Oh, it has been waaaay too long since the last book by Inger Ash Wolfe in this absolutely wonderful Canadian series! My copy of A Door in the River arrived - I set it aside and picked the day I would read it. Yes, the one day, because I absolutely knew I wouldn't be able to put it down. (And I was right!)
A Door in the River again returns us to Port Dundas, Ontario and Inspector Hazel Micallef. Hazel is a wonderfully different protagonist - one I cannot get enough of. She is sixtyish, lives with her eighty eight year old mother (who is great character on her own - her snappy comebacks are priceless), has just recovered from back surgery (she recuperated in the basement of her ex husband and his new wife) and has finally kicked her addiction to pain pills, although whiskey still calls to her. She is obstinate, intelligent, tenacious and not the easiest person to get along with. But is she a good cop? Yes, but her talents will be tested with this latest case.
"The force of her will and her peculiar way of building evidence for a case was something to see. He understood why she'd driven Ray Greene crazy. And in the end you had to agree with her! There was no way you were going to make your own logic as internally consistent as hers. Supposedly this was "instinct". He'd never really seen it. Too bad she wielded it like a mallet."
A local all round good guy is found dead behind a native smoke shop on reservation land. The local band police investigate and do an autopsy. Death is ruled accidental - anaphylactic shock by a wasp sting. But Hazel knew the man and can't help but wonder why he was on the reserve late at night - he didn't smoke, the store was closed and why was he parked back in the shadows? And so she decides to re-examine their findings. And of course she ruffles some feathers. But what she turns up....
Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! The plot is an absolute nail biter. The tension was so high, I had a very hard time the last eighty pages not turning to the end to see what happened. I managed not to - and I'm glad I didn't. There are some twists I didn't see coming and I was lulled into a false sense of security by the last few pages. (Happily) Caught unawares again.
Now, the crimes are dreadful, (but really, could have been taken from newspaper headlines) so gentler readers be warned.
But for me it is the characters that make this series. For all her irascibility, Hazel does have some soft spots. And Detective James Wingate, is one of them. He is a gentler, calming influence on Hazel's team. James was introduced in the previous book and again takes a primary role in this book. Really, all of the characters come across as real and the dialogue is believable. You'll love to hate the bad guys.
It's so great to see a series set in Canada - and this is one of my all time favourites. Highly recommended.
There are lots of sub plots that hint at a continuation of this series. Hazel's previous deputy has returned as her superintendent, the force is being amalgamated and Port Dundas itself is slated for radical changes. I can't wait to read the next book.
For the first two books, the true identity of Inger Ash Wolfe was a mystery. Names of Canadian authors were bandied about, but Michael Redhill has claimed her as his own at last.
Reason for Reading: Next in the series.
I wasn't quite as blown away with this third entry into the Hazel Micallef mystery series as I was with the first two but I still thoroughly enjoyed this well-paced exciting thriller with a unique plot. The author manages to tell a story set upon a First Nations reserve with a few First Nations characters, even involving some issues of contention such as the sale of cheap cigarettes on reserves, without ever turning the story into one about race or race relations; in fact, the setting has nothing to do with the plot. I was highly impressed with this. The actual type of crime involved here is a secret which isn't let out until halfway through the book so I won't mention it but it is a very intriguing premise, especially the way that the author leads us up to it starting off with the violent murders of men, then an attack on one of their wives. I really enjoyed the mystery story here and found the dark, realistic ending true to life. I also absolutely delighted in the continuation of Hazel's relationship with her aging mother, plus the inside political story of the amalgamation of police forces into one big super-station which Hazel, is of course, against and leaves her now under the direct command of her former subordinate and nemesis. These plot points should carry over to the next book well.
PS: The real "Inger Ashe Wolfe" has finally 'fessed-up; Michael Redhill, wrote an articles on his subterfuge, but the whole thing is rather disappointing since I've never heard of him. Why use a pseudonym when only a unique clique knows who you are? Ah well, at least he plans on continuing as "Inger" for a while longer yet!
on September 13, 2012
The latest Inger Ash Wolfe novel is a good "beach read": it moves fast, has intersting characters, and a fair bit of action. However, the whole premise of all the subterranean "goings on" (not to give away the story) is preposterous. Ash Wolfe's first two novels were quite plausible but this one definitely straddles the line. Nonethless, it is fun to read.