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Confined Space [Paperback]

Deryn Collier
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.99
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Book Description

June 5 2012
When respected ex–Canadian Forces commander Bern Fortin cuts short his military career to take a job as the coroner for a small mountain town in the heart of BC, he’s hoping to leave the past behind. Bern’s looking forward to a quiet life, but the memories of what he witnessed during his stints in Afghanistan and other war-torn countries haunt him still.

When the body of one of the workers is found floating in the huge bottle-washing tank at the local brewery, Bern is called in for a routine investigation. What first appears to be a tragic accident takes a menacing turn when the body of the worker’s girlfriend is discovered in a nearby field. Bern needs the help of brewery safety investigator Evie Chapelle, who, burdened by tragedies she might have prevented, is more determined than ever to keep her workers, and their tight-knit community, safe. Soon, Bern and Evie find themselves risking their jobs—and their lives—to uncover a killer hiding in a place where it is awfully hard to keep a secret.

Deryn Collier’s debut novel is a taut mystery full of suspense. Confined Space was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for best unpublished first crime novel by the Crime Writers of Canada.

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Product Description


“Fans of Dana Stabenow and Deborah Crombie rejoice! Deryn Collier's maiden outing is superbly written, densely layered, and marvelously suspenseful. Confined Space is a tour-de-force heralding an explosive new series guaranteed to please the traditional mystery lover.”
-Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times-bestselling author of One Was a Soldier

"The kind of book to curl up with and savour...but maybe not with a beer. Bern Fortin is an enigmatic coroner with a deeply layered past. Believable characters and a multi-layered plot. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Deryn Collier's debut novel keeps you up late reading to find out more."
-Peggy Blair, Author

“A great debut novel. Confined Space perfectly captures the unique beauty of the Kootenay area of British Columbia as it introduces two conflicted, engaging, completely realistic characters."
-Vicki Delany, Author

About the Author

Deryn Collier grew up in Ottawa and Montreal and is a graduate of McGill University. She now lives in Nelson, British Columbia, with her family and welcomes visitors to her blog at

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new hero to love June 11 2012
What I most loved about Confined Space was the hero, Bern Fortin. He is kind, intelligent, a man who appreciates older women in all the best ways. Bern is not perfect; his war experiences have left him with a lot of baggage and sorrow. Deryn Collier develops every character with care and attention to detail, but the reader gets to know Bern the best. He is sympathetic and honorable. A man whom male and female alike would befriend - were he real. Evie, his counterpart in the story, is also a strong, complex and likeable character. Collier's writing is beautiful; lyrical, descriptive and interesting. The plot is a true mystery, not a thriller, and I personally love this kind of story. I got involved with characters, cared about what happened to them, and marveled along with them at the cruelty of the human psyche. The backdrop of the brewery, where the action takes place, is fascinating. Collier makes the process of creating beer almost sensual. I even got interested in gardening from the descriptions of Bern's green thumb skills - well, almost. I highly recommend this book as a good read for any gender, for mystery lovers, but also anyone who just loves a great story, vivid characters and gorgeous setting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Debut mystery a real page-turner March 4 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
We know small towns have secrets. Sometimes horrifying secrets. But that doesn't stop us from being seduced by an idyllic setting, or from hoping there are no dark places hiding in the picturesque.

The sleepy mountain town of Kootenay Landing is the setting for Deryn Collier's debut mystery, Confined Space. She chooses an unlikely location - a brewery - for a pair of unlikely deaths. A man dies in an apparent accident while repairing a bottle-washing tank, and his abducted girlfriend, kept captive in the same building, dies while attempting to escape.

Enter former soldier turned part-time coroner Bern Fortin. He's a man with heavy burdens: post traumatic stress disorder, one of his men awaiting trial for an unexplained crime, and a journalist digging into his past.

The townspeople surrounding Fortin are just as complex as they are ordinary, and Collier draws them with the skill that comes from a deep understanding of the human condition. For better or worse, they are as real as our own neighbours.

As for the mystery, Collier has constructed an engrossing plot that kept me up at night wanting to know what would happen next. There are no car chases here, no blood-curdling screams, and no obvious answers. The scale is utterly human, and the everyday Collier deftly weaves into the book - Bern Fortin sharing breakfast with his neighbour, tending his vegetable garden - makes the undiscovered murderer all the more menacing.

There are turns that are entirely unexpected, which is what every mystery reader craves. I will reveal nothing, and as someone who routinely blurts out lines before a character utters them, I don't mind admitting Collier delivered some genuine surprises.

The ending of Confined Space leaves plenty of unanswered questions. I have no qualms about the quality of sequels here. I'm eagerly anticipating the next installment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Star is born! Jan. 27 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
The arrival of a good new mystery writer is always a cause for celebration. Drink a toast to this one, and make it a Kokanee, the popular beer out here in the Kootenays where the story takes place.

Meet the sleuth: Bern Fortin has retired from the Canadian Armed Forces to the small town of Kootenay Landing. His past includes harrowing tours of duty in Rwanda, Bosnia and Afghanistan. In his new life he hopes to heal his soul by learning to garden, and expiate his survival guilt by bearing witness for the dead: he has a part time job as a coroner. To the job he brings a soldier's sharp instincts, as well as a struggle with PTSD.

Bern is a wonderful character. Likable and complex, his outsider status in a small Western town is made even more obvious by the fact that he is originally a Francophone. Like so many fictional crime solvers he has a nosy neighbour who fusses over him, the formidable Mrs K., short for Kalesnikoff. Named not for the gun but for the sawmill, a real family-owned business thriving just West of Nelson. The town may be fictional, the location is real. The description of place and local culture adds real depth to the novel.

The story is set in a brewery. A worker has gone into a confined space by himself to fix a machine and come to a rather horrid ending. His death is a blow to the safety manager, whose rigid protocol should have prevented the accident. Or was it an accident? Could there be a connection between the death and some games played by corporate management? There is the usual thriller stuff with the usual surprise ending. Evie, the safety manager, is a well developed secondary character, a combination of damsel in distress and fellow sleuth. It is well done.

I hope this novel is the first of many.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended May 20 2013
By ERBrown
The small town atmosphere is both friendly and claustrophobic. Bern Fortin is tough and smart, but haunted by ghosts of his past. Once I opened the cover I was hooked - Confined Space sucked me into the world of Fortin and Evie Chapelle and the goings-on in the Bugaboo Brewery. Collier has a unique voice and a nice way with a plot. Highly recommended.
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