Crime Novels: Noir by Northwest

Book Cover Cut You Down

Sam Wiebe (whose most recent novel is Cut You Down, which “convincingly brings Raymond Chandler into the twenty-first century," according to a starred review in Publishers Weekly) recommends eight other crime novels set in the Pacific Northwest. 

*****

Find You in the Dark, by Nathan Ripley 

Seattle: Martin Reese is a retired tech millionaire who spends his free time searching for the bodies of undiscovered serial killer victims. Is he a heroic benefactor, doing what the police can’t, or is he motivated by something darker? Find You In the Dark captures the uncomfortable overlap of Seattle’s business and culture sectors.

*

Zero Avenue, by Dietrick Kalteis

Vancouver and the US/Canada border: Kalteis’s tale of 70s’ Vancouver focuses on the emerging punk scene, as well as the cross-border pot trade. His work has been compared to Elmore Leonard before, but he brings an understanding of the music industry all his own, and a flair for showcasing Vancouver’s outlaw history. 

*

Book Cover it All Falls Down

It All Falls Down, by Sheena Kamal

Downtown Vancouver: A dark story of love and death, partially set in a wildfire-ravaged Vancouver, It All Falls Down examines topics like North America’s treatment of refugees and soldiers. Nora Watts is on a search for clues to her father’s mysterious death, and to her own fractured family life. An engaging thriller, leavened with a sense of humour which veers between acidic and absurd.

*

Property Values, by Charles Demers

Suburban Lower Mainland: Property Values perfectly captures the despair of young people facing the Lower Mainland’s housing crisis. Scott, the book’s schlubby protagonist, is determined to stay in his family home. His solution: stage a gang shooting in the hopes of driving down property values. But what happens when real gangsters get wind of this?

 *

Marry Bang Kill, by Andrew Battershill

Victoria and Quadra Island: Mugger Tommy Marlo stumbles on the location of a stash of money belonging to outlaw bikers, kickstarting a breathless chase across Vancouver Island. It’s a propulsive book, populated with crooks and ne’er-do-wells reminiscent of a Coen Brothers film. Quadra Island and Victoria have never seemed more dangerous.

Son of a Trickster, by Eden Robinson

Kitimat and Terrace, Haisla territory: My local bookseller described Son of a Trickster as “First Nations Twin Peaks,” and that captures the combination of realism, dark humour, and the supernatural. Robinson writes about poverty and working class people in a way that calls to mind early Stephen King.

*

Cold Girl, by RM Greenaway 

Hazelton, Northern BC: Two small-town cops butt heads as they follow the trail of a killer in Northern BC. Greenaway takes the police procedural and drops it into unfamiliar and often-unforgiving terrain. B.C.’s answer to Henning Mankell’s Wallander series.

*

Stange Things Done, by Elle Wild

Dawson City: Wild paints a claustrophobic picture of Dawson City in wintertime. Trapped by snow and suspected of a politician’s murder, journalist Jo Silver has to extricate herself from the clutches of the law. An absorbing thriller steeped in the history and culture of the Yukon.

*

About Cut You Down, by Sam Wiebe

Vancouver PI Dave Wakeland returns, hot on the trail of a missing college student who may or may not have stolen half a million dollars. What starts as a straightforward runaway case soon gives way to a tangled mess of dirty money, betrayal, and murder, pitting the resourceful but over-his-head detective against suburban gangsters, a corrupt cop, and a contract killer with a fondness for blades—one of which seems destined for Wakeland's throat...

Sam Wiebe's morally challenged young detective takes up a cross-border chase that twists and surprises like only Vancouver's next master of crime could write. Never one to back down from the big issues plaguing his city of shining towers and forgotten corners, Wiebe returns with a vicious caper that threatens to leave no one—not his rogue detective, nor Wakeland's family and friends (or even a few of his enemies)—standing.

May 3, 2018
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