Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Babies, babies, bab... er, books!

This is April, the season of renewal, rebirth, and new life. In the book business, it’s also the time when publishers release their “spring list”, hoping to tempt the buying public with fresh material for those long summer evenings on the patio or at the cottage. There are new mysteries galore for the reader eagerly awaiting something fresh.

There are far too many books for me to mention them all, so I will focus on just a few that readers may not hear about quite so easily otherwise. All are delightful gems by Canadians, who don’t often get much notice on the book review pages of the New York Times.

First off, my friend Mary Jane Maffini has just released the fifth in her witty, engaging Charlotte Adams series which features a personal organizer with a penchant for uncovering bodies in closets. Mary Jane also manages to keep two other series afloat, which is perhaps her subconscious motivation for writing The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder, a light-hearted take on the very serious topic of girl bullies. Don’t go to the cottage without it.

Next is another talented and prolific writer, Vicki Delany, another friend who manages to keep several series afloat. I am in awe of these two. Vicki lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario, but sets one series in the goldrush-era Yukon and the other in British Columbia. Being released this month is Among the Departed, the fifth in her Constable Molly Smith series set in small-town BC. These are classic but edgy whodunits with an emphasis on character and community connections.

Third I’d like to mention The Witch of Babylon, the eagerly awaited debut novel by Toronto writer Dorothy McIntosh. She is also a friend, but that’s because we are all friends in the Canadian Crime Writing community. Dorothy won the UnHanged Arthur Award for the best unpublished Canadian manuscript in 2007, and the book has been creating quite a stir. As the title suggests, it features an exotic time and place, and it should be stunning.

Fourth, a quick word about two other books just released this month from Orca Books. Brenda Chapman’s The Second Wife, and my very own The Fall Guy. These are part of Orca’s Rapid Reads series of short books meant to provide an easy, entertaining story for the busy or reluctant reader. Brenda and I will be holding a joint launch on May 15 along with young adult author Jeff Ross, so more on that later.

The Fall Guy is a new venture for me - I am experimenting with a very different style, characters and setting - and I hope readers will find the contrast to the Inspector Green novels refreshing. I did. My reluctant hero is Cedric O’Toole, a penniless country handyman who lives alone on a hardscrabble farm (roughly in the Sharbot Lake area of Eastern Ontario, where I have a cottage). Cedric is more interested in tinkering with his sheds full of junk than in getting ahead, but when the wife of the county’s wealthy car dealer falls to her death from a deck he built, he finds himself facing a manslaughter charge. And worse.

Conceived as books to engage and strength the skills of those with limited English literacy, Rapid Reads have been discovered by people looking for a fast-paced but meaty story. Perfect for the cottage dock. So check my website at for launch details. For the first time, I am holding a book launch in a pub on a late Sunday afternoon. That’s because it’s Cedric’s kind of place.


Vicki Delany said...

Good luck with the book. It sounds just great.

Erika Chase said...

Some great titles from terrific authors on the mystery scene! Should be on every reader's list!