Joanne’s Mystery Picks

34064625BODY ON BAKER STREET  by Vicki Delaney

There aren’t very many surprises in this heavily formulaic mystery by Canada’s Vicki Delany.  When Gemma Doyle and Jayne Wilson, proprietors of the Sherlock Homes Bookshop and Emporium on Baker Street, are approached about holding a book signing with Renalta Van Markoff, the controversial author of the Hudson and Homes mystery series, it’s glaringly obvious who the victim will be in this second book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.  Not only that, but we know what the “murder weapon” will be a good twenty-four hours before the murder is committed (it couldn’t be more obvious if it was lit up with a neon sign!).

There’s the indignant Holmes’ expert who decries Renalta’s interpretation of Conan Doyle’s invention; Renalta’s long-suffering assistant; and finally, the handsome publicist.  All are considered suspects and Gemma and Jayne take it upon themselves to solve this murder before an innocent person is arrested.

9781487002749THE IMAM OF TAWI-TAWI by Ian Hamilton

Ava has just started a new relationship with the actress Pang Fai when she’s contacted by one of Uncle’s oldest friends.  He wants Ava to fly to Manila to look into the rumours of a college in Tawi-Tawi, an island in the Philippines, which is said to be training terrorists.

While the first part of this novel seems to consist of Ava “living” on her phone, the pace soon ramps up and Ava is thrust into an investigation that is anything but simple.  She partners up with a CIA agent and what they find when they finally are able to investigate the college will chill you to the bone.

Hamilton has raised the bar again with this novel as Ava has to rely on all the guile and wisdom that Uncle ever passed onto her while also digging deep into her own personal resources.


Canada Reads 2017 @ the Library


St. Albert Public Library joins the debate with our 2nd annual Canada Reads panel!

Last year, over 75 people came to listen to what our local celebrity experts had to say in defence of their book, and added their own voices to the debate.  This year our panellists include Lynda Moffat, Sharon Morin, Zach Polis, MLA Marie Renaud and returning champion Paul Shamchuk.

Be part of a fun, stimulating evening, and help us decide what Canada’s Next Great Read will be.  Click here to register for this fun, free evening.

Friday, March 17
7:00-9:00 pm
Forsyth Hall at St. Albert Public Library

Check out detailed information about the five contenders:

The Break by Katherena Vermette                 @ the Library
Company Town by Madeline Ashby                @ the Library
Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis                            @ the Library
Nostalgia by M.G. Vassanji                               @ the Library
The Right to Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier    @ the Library

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

28220985A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

If I were to describe this book in one word, that word would be “brilliant”.

I can’t think of a more powerful, well-crafted novel that I’ve read in many a long day.

It all starts with an old map – found in the walls of the bistro in Three Pines – and gifted to Armand Gamache when he decides to come out of retirement by taking on the task of commanding the Sureté Academy.  How could he ever know that his vision for the future of the Academy would be sculpted by a tragic moment in his own childhood?

The past moves along like a slow freight-train, mile after mile, day after day, gradually gaining momentum until it reaches its maximum speed and crashes into a solid force, with catastrophic results.  There are casualties; there is a profound sadness; and there is reconciliation and forgiveness.

If one can admire a fictional character, then I hold Armand Gamache in the highest regard.  Louise Penny has created a character with such compassion and understanding that anyone would be honored to know him.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

10189364A Door in the River by Inger Ash Wolfe

Henry Wiest’s death just doesn’t sit right with Hazel.  The coroner concludes that he was killed by a wasp sting, but without a stinger left in the body, Hazel is sceptical. When the results from a second post-mortem come back saying that his death was not due to a wasp sting but to a taser, Hazel turns up the heat on the investigation.  What was this man, a well-liked hardware store owner, doing in the parking lot of the local First Nations reserve?  Where did the wad of money that his wife found in a drawer in their home come from?

When Cathy Wiest, Henry’s widow, is tasered in her own home by a young, foreign, grubby-looking woman, Hazel knows that she won’t be getting any sleep any time soon.

Wolfe takes us on a wild ride with each new chapter revealing shocking details of a disturbing network of depravity and horror.  Hazel needs to keep her wits about her and a strong team around her in order to crack this case.

51pngnsxunl-_sx344_bo1204203200_The Night Bell by Inger Ash Wolfe

Wolfe’s latest novel could easily read as a headline from today’s newspapers.

The remains of teenaged boys are found and linked to an orphanage which closed

many years before.  However, none of the deaths are listed in the records of that time.  Hazel has a flash-back to when she was a teenager in Port Dundas, Ontario when the coroner dates the bones to the 1950s.  Her half-brother, Alan, aged twelve, was a suspect in the disappearance of a local girl, Carol Lim and Hazel will never forget the day that Carol disappeared.

When one of Hazel’s constables is kidnapped and people who’ve talked to the police are targeted, Hazel is sure that this case reaches further than the defunct orphanage.  Lies, corruption, and the blurring of the lines between innocence and guilt meet her at every turn.  “The evil that men do” is not just a cliché.  It’s the heart of this story.

RedhillBWInger Ash Wolfe, aka Michael Redhill, will be joining the Library as part of STARFest 2016.  He will be hosted by Writer in Residence Marty Chan on Saturday Oct. 22 7:00pm.

Tickets are $5, and available from the St. Albert Public Library or through Eventbrite.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

15751561Last Bus to Woodstock: The 1st Inspector Morse Mystery by Colin Dexter

There’s always a danger when reading the books that a TV series is based on that one will prefer the TV program to the books and that the actors on the program will not “fit” with the characters in the book. That danger doesn’t exist with the first Morse book. For Morse, in Dexter’s first book in this series, is so very different from the Morse portrayed on TV by John Thaw that it’s easy to treat the book and the TV series as completely separate entities. Yes, there are commonalities between the Morses: their love of Wagner, crossword puzzles, and the “occasional” pint, but there the similarities seem to end. Dexter’s Morse is not so self-assured; he second-guesses himself and waffles between the obvious and the obscure. When a young woman is found murdered in the car park of a pub, Morse determines that a sexual predator is at large and that the public is in danger. But with each lead dismissed, Morse struggles to make sense of the crime, believing that it needs to be seen in a different light. We see a small part of the private Morse and get a brief glimpse of his vulnerability. One of the more shocking aspects of this novel is the attitude that the characters have to the crime. Such an attitude would not be tolerated today, but then this book was published in 1975, when that was the status quo. It will be interesting to see if “book vs TV series” continues to be as dissimilar as this first instance as I work my way through the rest of the novels. One thing is for certain and that is that I liked the book equally as well as the TV program that was based on it.


languageThe Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Detective Esa Khattak and his partner Detective Rachel Getty of Canada’s Community Policing Section are thrust into the center of a terrorist cell that is planning an attack on New Year’s Day.  Khattack’s friend, Mohsin Dar, working as an informant for INSET, Canada’s national security team, has been killed while investigating this cell.  With Rachel undercover in the mosque that houses the cell, Khattak works the periphery, gathering what information he can to identify the target of the attack.

Family plays a prominent role in this novel.  The members of the cell must work together as a family to achieve their goal and Esa, as head of his family, must act harshly at times, to guarantee the safety of his.

Khan’s beautiful writing can make us shiver as she describes Rachel’s trek across the snowy sidewalk and warm us all the way through as Rachel takes her first sip of a cup of steaming hot chocolate.

The author has given us a wonderfully intense mystery, layered with compassion, forgiveness ,and acceptance and characters who speak to our humanity.