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Free Reign [Paperback]

Rosemary Aubert
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 16.04
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Book Description

Dec 1 2009 Ellis Portal Mysteries (Book 1)
On the day he graduated from law school, there was little doubt that Ellis Portal would have a brilliant future. He and five of his similarly gifted colleagues commemorated the splendor of their shared expectations with the presentation, to each, of a specially commissioned signet ring. For a time, those expectations were borne out, and Ellis took his place at the top of Toronto society. However, he has fallen hard. Homeless now, cut off from his family, he lives in Toronto?s shadows and has almost succeeded in forgetting his own past. And then one day he makes a grisly discovery and comes across an unusual, unmistakable signet ring. And Ellis, against his will, begins to remember.

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Product Description

From School Library Journal

YA. This title's setting and plot should attract YAs. The protagonist is a former judge named Ellis Portal; he is also a convicted felon. Isolated from his children and friends, he resides in a shack in a wilderness preserve that runs through the middle of Toronto. One day he finds a hand in his vegetable garden; on it is a ring that the man knows is one of only five in existence. A former law school associate had the rings made for himself and four classmates. This discovery and subsequent investigations yield a reconnection with "normal life," romance, and extreme danger. Aubert has written a good first novel; her premises are plausible; the introduction of environmental issues, homelessness, human isolation, and personal scandal are current and well presented; and her plot is well paced.?Clodagh Lee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Ellis Portal was a compassionate and hardworking Toronto judge before a nervous breakdown landed him in a mental ward, and a scuffle with a woman he loved in law school sent him to prison. Now Portal is homeless and living in a shack near Toronto's River Don. While tilling his garden, he finds a severed hand with a ring from a secret law-school partnership. To solve the mystery of the hand, Portal draws from his past as the son of Italian immigrants and seeks help from friends in both his judicial and homeless lives. The mystery's solution emerges from a thicket of modern medicine and social problems. Aubert's writing in her first mystery is crisp and brisk, and her plot is capably constructed, offering many surprising and satisfying human and natural twists. The people in her story are all well developed and sympathetic, but her most intriguing "character" is the wilderness along the Don, which miraculously thrives in one of the world's busiest cities. John Rowen --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Real Slice of Toronto Life Feb. 9 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the atmosphere of both the street people and the legal profession. It was very interesting as social commentary, but not so much as legal procedural.
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4.0 out of 5 stars captivating, unusual & fabulous June 19 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What a wonderful story.Using a former judge as a homeless person and as the narrator is a stroke of genius. It was a well thought out mystery with good character development and an interesting premise. As a former Torontonian, I was thrilled to see the attention to detail. The descriptions of the locations, the people and the flavor of the city was so accurate it made me homesick.I can't wait to read more of her work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Homeless man as detective? May 12 1998
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Believe it or not, the story works. Rosemary Aubert writes like a dream. Her protagonist, Ellis Portal, offers us a glimpse into a world we hope never to enter. The mystery is as compelling as the hero. I'm not going to go on and on about the story as some reviewers do. I'll only say this: To those mystery lovers who yearn for a masterfully told tale, snap this one up!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proof that mysteries can be fine literature as well April 9 1998
By Kathleen T. Choi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Hero Ellis Portal was once a judge but now lives in a hut in Toronto's river park area. The novel is as much the story of his mental and emotional recovery as the solving of a crime. Aubert vividly describes the life of the homeless and the class barriers we all, often unintentionally, erect. Superb writing overcome a somewhat weak and rushed ending. Kathleen T. Choi, HAWAII CATHOLIC HERALD
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ellis Portal - A Different Kind Of Hero March 6 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Although this book is now out of print, it would be worth hunting for because the main character of the book - Ellis Portal - is definitely a different type of hero.
Although street people are not people I normally come in contact with, I began to appreciate the problems Ellis Portal faced the more I got into the book.
This book is definitely work looking for and reading.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Liked the beginning but didn't sustain my interest May 21 2000
By Maureen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I found the book interesting from being told from the perspective of a former judge who is now homeless. The details of getting showers and meals and 'pride of place' were good. The regrets of letting go of the best of his former life ring true. However, the suspense, for me, didn't last until the end; the story got progressively thinner and less interesting.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Free Reign Feb. 23 2000
By "blackjewel" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Once a powerful judge, Ellis Portal was convicted of a felony and disgraced. His life style has changed drastically. He is now living as a homeless person in a ravine along a Toronto river. While working in his vegetable garden, he finds a ring with a black hand attached to it. Ellis recognizes the ring as one of five that was exchanged between himself and four other law school graduates (all of whom were white). When the rings were exchanged, they were accompanied by a vow that each of them would perform one favor, no questions asked, for each of the others. During the book, this favor is called in twice for Ellis.
In order to solve the mystery of the ring, Portal needs to go back into the civilized world. When he does so as a vagrant, he is treated without respect. When he goes through great lengths to appear "normal", he is accepted. He first visits another street person, Queenie, who cannot help him but asks him to see how a young woman named Moonstar is doing. Moonstar is a prostitute who spent some time at a hostel called "Second Chances". She is convinced that the well-to-do hostel is responsible for spiriting away several people, including newborn babies of some of the women who reside there. Although this seems implausible to Ellis, he agrees to look into it.
His main connection whohelps in his investigation is a reporter named Aliana who treated him fairly during his worst ordeals. She is kind and helpful. She also serves a useful purpose in the story of being able to tap into information that Ellis needs to investigate Second Chances and the other lawyers with whom he made his pact.
The first two-thirds of the book were thought-provoking as it made the reader consider attitudes toward the unfortunates of society. However, the last third veered off into fantastic events, clichés and unbelievable happy endings for almost everybody. Aubert writes with great sensitivity about the intricacies of life on the streets as well as other issues such as prostitution, homosexuality and the vagaries of the justice system, all of which make this a book worth reading in spite of the overly fortuitous plot resolutions.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars captivating, unusual & fabulous June 18 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What a wonderful story.Using a former judge as a homeless person and as the narrator is a stroke of genius. It was a well thought out mystery with good character development and an interesting premise. As a former Torontonian, I was thrilled to see the attention to detail. The descriptions of the locations, the people and the flavor of the city was so accurate it made me homesick.I can't wait to read more of her work.
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