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Five Vancouver Crime Fiction Knockouts

"Vancouver is a beautiful, glossy and glossed-over town, and much like a minor aristocratic character in a Golden Age British murder mystery, its good looks have been known to distract from its shadowy criminal heart."

Book Cover Noonday Dark

In Noonday Dark, my Halifax-raised amateur sleuth/cognitive-behavioural therapist protagonist Annick Boudreau is drawn into the world of Vancouver civic politics as she searches for a missing patient—a young woman who wrote campaign-speech jokes for the recently-elected mayor of the city.

Vancouver is a beautiful, glossy and glossed-over town, and much like a minor aristocratic character in a Golden Age British murder mystery, its good looks have been known to distract from its shadowy criminal heart. Some of my very favourite fiction about my city happens, perhaps for this reason, to be its crime fiction, which often manages to show the Vancouver that never makes it to Instagram.


Book Cover Invisible Dead

Invisible Dead, by Sam Wiebe

The Dave Wakeland P.I. series has quickly earned legendary status as Terminal City’s grittiest, most intelligent, most sensitively observed contemporary detective series—a favourite of booksellers and literary critics and academics but also a hit with everyday readers, and that’s the only non-mystery about it. Dave Wakeland is a 21st century reimagining of the hardboiled Philip Marlowe shamus, unmistakably born and bred in a Vancouver that’s rapidly changing around him. Invisible Dead is the first instalment.


Book Cover Ladies Night

Ladies Night, by Elisabeth Bowers

Last year the terrifically talented Cedar Bowers burst onto the Canadian literary scene with her Giller-longlisted novel Astra. But in the 1980s her mother, while working in an East Van co-operative bakery, wrote a page-turning feminist mystery centred on busting an underage pornography ring. This out-of-print gem is just begging for a reissue: an Expo 86-era whodunnit full of chunky 80s answering machines and video technology and way-ahead-of-the-curve political sophistication.  


Book Cover Stupid Crimes

Stupid Crimes, by Dennis E. Bolen

The first book of a trilogy drawn from Bolen’s real-life career as a federal parole officer, this bleak, funny, scary book is told in vignettes of hip, straightforward prose that follow the warp and woof of deeply flawed, deeply human lives on both sides of the law.


Book Cover Blood Sports

Blood Sports, by Eden Robinson

Robinson’s novel is one of the most chilling, terrifying books I’ve ever read, unfurled with masterful patience and maximum impact in a flashback-like series of letters, legal documents, video transcriptions and more, whose aggregate effect is haunting such that it won’t let you look away. The book also captures the geographic and atmospheric hinge that once connected now-trendy Commercial Drive with its civic cousin, the Downtown Eastside—a connection now almost, but not totally, sundered by gentrification.


Book Cover The White Angel

The White Angel, by John MacLachlan Gray

It can be a difficult thing to write a period piece responsibly if you also want to have fun. The White Angela lightly fictionalized but highly imagined recreation of the murder of Janet Smith (a Scottish nanny in Shaughnessy—then and now the city’s richest neighbourhood), which convulsed Vancouver in racist paroxysms when it was blamed on a servant named Wong Foon Sing—miraculously pulls off an unflinching look at a more explicitly colonialist, racist, sexist, and socially hierarchical time in Vancouver’s history, and still creates a vividly rendered setting where the reader wants to spend imaginative time. Tiny, intricate, time-traveler details—no nostalgia. The perfect crime.


Book Cover Noonday Dark

Learn more about Noonday Dark:

An exciting second installment in the Doctor Annick Boudreau Mystery Series, the endearing and unflappable Dr. Boudreau returns in this complex and nuanced portrait of psychology and a city.

When Dr. Boudreau is contacted by the Vancouver Police and informed that her patient Danielle has been reported missing and there’s a suicide note, the psychologist is shaken. Danielle, who was being treated for a major depressive episode, had been doing well—talking about her new relationship and the contract she just completed as a speechwriter for a bike-riding politician’s successful mayoral campaign.

Dr. Boudreau is, once again, on a mission to discover what really happened and joins forces with Danielle’s estranged father, Ivor, a former radical journalist turned right-wing blogger. Along the way, the realpolitik is illuminated in a clash over the Knight Street trucking route, protected by the Satan’s Hammer Motorcycle Club, who has a strong presence on the waterfront and refuse to relinquish the port traffic to the suburbs.

Discover the clash and charisma of a city embroiled in politics in this twisting and turning story. Charles Demers renders a divisive cityscape entangled in questions of ownership and change—who owns the city and who has the right to change it—with humour, edge and compassion, revealing the intricacies of a metropolis on the verge of myriad transformations.

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