WHEN THE FLOOD FALLS: The Falls Mysteries by J.E. Barnard
Calgary author, J.E. Barnard, won the 2016 Unhanged Arthur Ellis Award for the Best Unpublished First Crime Novel for her mystery When the Flood Falls. It’s a promising beginning to what appears to be a forthcoming series.
Lacey McCrae, ex-RCMP, has travelled from the Lower Mainland to Calgary with a lot of baggage – both literal and figurative. She hopes to leave behind a marriage gone sour, and a job that she used to enjoy. As she hooks up with her old university roommate, Dee Phillips, Lacey finds that the skills learned in her former job are called into play when Dee admits to being threatened on a number of different occasions.
Meanwhile, spring runoff threatens the main bridge crossing in the area and Lacey is particularly anxious about the possibility of being cut-off. There’s obviously a back-story to Lacey’s anxiety but Barnard only hints at it.
I found there to be too many loose threads in this novel and can only hope that a subsequent book will tie up these loose ends, helping us to understand the cause of Lacey’s fears, the reason she left the force, and why she needed a new start in a new location.
A DARKNESS OF THE HEART by Gail Bowen
Bowen’s 18th novel in the Joanne Kilbourn series brings a surprising revelation to the main character and proceeds to examine Joanne’s personal past in great detail. This revelation affects many of the people in Joanne’s circle but none so much as Joanne herself. She now has to re-examine her friendship with Sally Love and Sally’s family to understand how she, herself, fits into this new picture that has come into focus.
Roy Brodnitz, a writer of Broadway shows and a good friend of Joanne’s, hopes to examine the family history between Sally and Joanne in a mini-series and approaches Joanne about it while in town working on The Happiest Girl, his Broadway hit. Soon Taylor has struck up a friendship with the young actress in the starring role and the entire family is thrust into the often seamy side of the movie industry.
This story often got bogged down in the lengthy descriptions and explanations of past events and people and was slow to move forward where real action was at a minimum. I found many of the passages to be tedious and was inclined to quickly read over them. Now that Bowen has provided us with Joanne’s back-story, perhaps she’ll move on to more exciting events in the life of this character.