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The Calling [Hardcover]

Inger Ash Wolfe
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 4 2008
Voted one of the Best Mystery Books of 2008 by Publisher's Weekly

This dazzling crime-fiction debut — a dark, haunting, compassionate story of the hunt for a killer motivated by love — will be the international publishing event of the season.

This brilliant debut mystery has it all: characters so realistic they rise off the page; a devious plot that delivers both psychological depth and emotional heights; exceptionally fine, deft writing; a stunning cross-Canada manhunt; a detective like no other; and the promise of more mysteries in the series.

The first homicide that Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef, acting chief of the Port Dundas police, has had to investigate in almost three years is that of cancer patient Delia Chandler, a woman who once had an affair with Hazel’s father. When a few days later, and three hundred kilometres away, the mutilated body of an MS sufferer is found, painted in Chandler’s blood, Micallef realizes that someone is killing the terminally ill, and not for mercy’s sake. Hobbled by a bad back and a skeptical police bureaucracy, Inspector Micallef takes it upon herself to coordinate a nationwide manhunt for the killer; a man, she soon learns, who can save a life as dramatically as he can end one — a man with God on his mind, grief in his heart, and a desperate need to kill.

This thrilling psychological tale stands alongside the best contributions to the genre by Barbara Vine (aka Ruth Rendell), Minette Walters, and Patricia Highsmith.

The Calling is being published simultaneously in the U.S. by Harcourt and in the U.K. by Transworld.

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This bracingly original mystery from the pseudonymous Wolfe opens with the grisly slaying of an elderly cancer sufferer in Port Dundas, a remote Ontario town that has gone years without a homicide. The murder hits at a particularly tough time for 61-year-old Det. Insp. Hazel Micallef, who's struggling to come to terms with a surprise divorce and battles daily with her acerbic 87-year-old mother. A serious staff shortage and an injured back add to the department commander's woes. A second, even more disturbing killing raises the ante for Micallef, who's already doubtful she can solve the first case. As Micallef marshals her forces, Wolfe fans the already high suspense by cutting between them and their elusive quarry. With the body count climbing, the detective puts herself increasingly at risk in a desperate attempt to foil the grand, demented plan that the killer regards as a mission. Billed as a prominent North American literary novelist, Wolfe convincingly lays claim to a new mantle as a first-rate crime writer. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Review

The Calling is a wonderful, creepy and suspenseful serial killer novel with enough twists and compelling characters to make you want to devour it all at one sitting.” —Peter Robinson

“A superbly written novel with a brilliantly conceived and realized plot, featuring an aging Ontario Provincial Police officer who is unforgettable.” —Margaret Cannon, Globe and Mail

“I couldn’t put the damned thing down. . . .” —Los Angeles Times

“You’re in the hands of a master storyteller. The Calling is a stunner – dark, surprising and utterly compelling.” —Mo Hayder

“Hazel Micallef is a Canadian original. . . . You can’t help loving the woman.” —Toronto Star

“Wolfe creates a compelling, unlikely hero and delivers hair-raising thrills. A–.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Had me from the first page and never let me go.” —Kate Atkinson

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why didn't I read this one sooner!? April 28 2009
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
You know, when The Calling first came out in hardcover last year, I heard nothing but rave reviews. It was voted one of the best mystery books of 2008 by Publisher's Weekly. Well, the paperback releases today from McLelland and Stewart and I'm kicking myself that I didn't grab a copy sooner. What a fantastic read!

The book opens with Delia, a terminally ill woman, letting the mysterious, cadaverous Simon into her home. She has been communicating with him for a while now. As she willingly takes the herbal tea he offers and falls asleep, he chooses between the gun, hammer and knife he has also brought along, finally deciding on the knife. Delia lives in Port Dundas.

The wonderfully different protagonist is Inspector Hazel Micallef of the Port Dundas, Ontario Police Department. Hazel is 61, newly divorced, her elderly mother lives with her, she suffers from excruciating back pain and medicates herself with whiskey every now and then. The Port Dundas department is woefully underfunded and understaffed. The Ontario Police Services is hoping to close them down and amalgamate with a larger force.

With the discovery of Delia's body, Hazel launches her investigation. When she discovers that Delia is not the first victim and that the killer may be operating Canada wide, she chooses not to involve the Mounties - a decision that may have serious repercussions. Her rogue methods may backfire.

Hazel herself is a flawed, realistic character. I also loved the supporting police team - the enigmatic Wingate, crazy Sevigny as well as Hazel's feisty mother Emily. (Her response to someone who offers help to the 87 yr old - "Piss off, I'm not crippled.") The killer Simon is explored in detail as well. Is it love or madness that drives him on his missions of mercy?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All Night Page Turner June 13 2010
By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Calling sets a new bar for Canadian crime fiction. I found it very original with extremely engaging characters. Hazel Micallef and her mother, Emily along with an amazing supporting cast are highly believable. My wife is from Renfrew, a true Ottawa Valley Girl, so it was also fun to catch references I have become familiar with throughout (a Deacon's bench, Algonquin Park, Renfrew police). But the story is all Canadian - a coast to coast thriller that maintains a fantastic pace from start to finish.

A small complaint is that the author has thrown in so many woes for poor Hazel (medical, divorce, political pressures at work, alcoholism, family history shame) that it strains a bit too much. The actual crime plot is well constructed and twisted. I loved the small town versus big city tensions present throughout. Perhaps that will allow the author to explore the fact that Canada is a little more diverse in future books. No matter what province you may live in if Canadian you will recognize fictional Port Dundas, Ontario. And another fine mystery is who really is the pseudonymous Wolfe?

Lastly, you do not have to be Canadian to enjoy The Calling - the mystery and police procedures will engage and entertain.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who dunnit better than 'who wrote it' July 31 2008
By Dave and Joe TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
OK, I bought this book because of the hype around it. I was curious about the authorship of the book after having read a long article in the national paper. One paragraph in and I didn't care about anything more than the story. Wonderful characters, breathtaking plot and pacing that kept interest high. Did the book in two days. This is a great mystery and and even better thriller - as to the authorship whoever dunnit, dunnit good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Calling March 25 2008
Format:Hardcover
This book grabbed my attention from the very first paragraph and that interest didn't wane until the last page! IMO it is a thoroughly entertaining read and a real page turner. The mystery surrounding WHO is the person writing is a "bummer" - I think it's Margaret Atwood.
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