I have to admit that I was unaware of Anne Emery before I received my copy of "Children In The Morning". Since completing my first experience as a reader of her work, I have to say that I have been happily surprised by what I have discovered; a previously unknown author (to me), who is an excellent story teller, and is able to do so in some of the most interesting and rich culture that Canada has to offer. I am both proud and excited that Canada is starting to deliver writers with a growing amount of talent and doing so more and more often. It is when I continually discover new and brilliant authors that I am reminded of how diverse of a literary scene that Canada actually has. I think that far too often, Canadian authors draw the short end of the stick because of the massive size of our country. You compare us to our southerly neighbors and you see that they are dealing with close to the same land-size as we are, but they have ten times the population which means they have ten times the funding to support all of their authors. We are sometimes mistaken for a huge country, but we are only large in the geographical sense, not in population. So, as I discover a new Canadian author, I celebrate each time, just a little, for me, inside. Yay.
Now, about the book. It's good. Great even. I immediately took to the main character / protagonist Monty Collins, who I was delighted (and somewhat embarrassed) to learn is a recurring character in a series that Ms. Emery has been writing. This book is the fifth in the series. Yes I said fifth as in 5th! So I've got some catching up to do! But having discovered that this is a well developed series, I didn't feel lost or that I didn't know what was going on, not even for a minute. This has always been a sign of a good series writer for me. Whether they are able to keep their series interesting, without having to repeat everything to the point of boredom for those who haven't been following along, and whether or not they can keep the story interesting and exciting for those who are only tuning in for the first time on the fifth book!
In this installment of the Monty Collins series, we are introduced to Beau Delaney, a bit of a showboat, a prominent lawyer whose exploits have become the subject of a Hollywood film. He is also the father of ten children (most of them adopted). He has been charged with the murder of his wife Peggy, which is how Monty comes onto the scene. Right away he is aware that his client has been keeping secrets from him, then a mysterious "eleventh" child shows up demanding to take part in the trial. Finally, the last words heard from Peggy are, "the Hell's Angels!"
This is only a small glimpse of what the author has assembled for this story. What follows is a veritable class in murder mystery fiction. Now that I am aware that this series has been written for years, I can really appreciate the professionalism and experience within the prose. Before knowing that she was an established writer, I was keenly aware that this was a writer with a gift and most likely some experience. The words flow seamlessly from her and you are instantly in the damp streets of Halifax and the fog filled days down by the wharf. With a gift like this, Ms. Emery can easily get on with the story without worrying about how to create a sense of place. Further, the reader is able to settle down for the journey without worrying about where they are or where they are going. Such is the writing from Ms. Emery that you are at once trusting of her as your pilot, and if you trust your guide, you are at once ready to go anywhere they may take you. In this novel, she has done so with such a generous helping of composure, that I would gladly ride shotgun for her anytime.
Once you add in Father Brennan Burke, a close pal of Monty's, and the tenuous relationship with his estranged ex-wife, Maura, you are able to see where Normie fits into all of this. Normie, along with Monty are the two narrators of this story. We are treated to an eye opening yarn from these two narrators and indeed, two perspectives. Through the eyes of a child, and through the eyes of a middle-aged lawyer, who drinks too much and is heavier than he should be, we are told the story of Beau Delaney and the murder of his wife. Normie is said to be gifted with the `second sight', just like her spooky grandmother from Cape Breton. When Normie starts having visions that seem to involve Beau Delaney, she can't tell whether they are something from his past, or something that he is going to do in the future.
Ms Emery's story is at once a delight, as we are guided through the wonderfully rich culture and lifestyle of Nova Scotia, and then evolves into a masterfully captained ship of a mystery that has you all but shouting out your own suggestions for how to solve the mystery. In the end, even I was fooled - and I like to think that I read enough of these to at least have a pretty good idea of `who dunnit', but in this case, I was really happy with how it all wrapped up. It was neat and tidy, yet kind of crazy all at the same time.
After reading a work such as this, it really makes me think it's about time we got our Canadian mystery and thriller writers out of obscurity and get them some exposure to the world at large. It's all too clear that we have a brilliant and deep vein of home grown talent for writing in Canada. It's time to mine more gems like Anne Emery, and show the world how wonderfully rich the Canadian literary scene is.
Excellent book and a great summer read if you're looking for a great `who-dunnit' to read while on holidays. Also, it's great to know that there are four other books in this series.
If you've read it, drop me a line about what you thought about it!
**special thanks to Sarah Dunn and ECW Press and NetGalley for supplying the ARC!!
The Hurley Edition
Children In The Morning by Anne Emery
Publisher: ECW Press
Publish Date: May 2010
Publisher website: [...]
Author Website: [...]
*please remember that, at the time of writing this, I receive no compensation for any of the reviews that I write here on the blog, nor do I promise any favorable reviews in advance of reading them.