Monday, August 02, 2010

When life imitates art

Last Sunday I finished Among the Departed, the fifth Constable Molly Smith book and sent it off to my editor at Poisoned Pen Press for her suggestions and comments. (Note: not to be confused with Negative Image, the fourth book in the series, due out Nov. 1st)

Very briefly the plot of Among the Departed is as follows: When Molly Smith was thirteen years old she had a sleep-over at her best friend’s house. She ate breakfast the next morning with the friend’s family and then her mom picked her up. Shortly thereafter her friend’s father went to the convenience store. He was never seen again. No trace of him was ever found, no one reported seeing him after he walked out the door, he did not have a criminal record and no known criminal contacts. Fifteen years later his remains are found in the British Columbia wilderness by Norman the police dog, searching for a lost child.

The very day I finished the book, I had company over for dinner. My friend, whom I shall call Jane, started telling us about her father.

Who disappeared into the B.C. wilderness and wasn’t found for seventeen years.

He was driving from Ontario to Southern B.C., last seen at a gas station in Calgary. His car was found far north of his expected route. Although in this case his car was found, for seventeen years there was no trace of Jane’s father himself. And then the body was found by a hunter. In the B.C. wilderness.

Isn’t that just too weird? I think if I hadn’t already written the book, I’d be getting ideas for a good plot.

In Among the Departed the focus of the book is, as well as on the reopened police investigation, the fallout of the man’s disappearance and how it pretty much destroyed his wife and two children.

My friend Jane was older than the children in the story, being in her mid-twenties at the time, but the disappearance had a devastating impact on her mother. Jane’s mother was suspected for a while of being involved in the disappearance of her husband and thus her bank accounts were all frozen. In Among the Departed the insurance company won’t pay out of course, and the wife has no source of income so is dependent on welfare and what she sees as condescending charity of the women of her church.

In the real life case, Jane and her brother are considering approaching the police to get what documentation they can, so they can try and find out the truth about the disappearance and death of their father.

In the fictional story... Well, you’ll have to wait until fall 2011 to find out what happens there.


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