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Interviews, Recommendations, and More

Great Books to Get You Through Dark Times

A recommended reading list by the authors of the new mystery Bury the Lead.

Book Cover Bury the Lead

Bury the Lead is up for giveaway until the end of the month!

Head over to our giveaways page for your chance to win, and to see what else is up for grabs!


When we met in a park one frosty day in 2021, we were feeling blue. The pandemic had shut everyone in; frontline workers were putting their lives on the line, quite literally. So it seemed a little ungrateful to feel sad about the loss of our creative oomph—but that’s exactly how we did feel. What was getting us through those dark times? A lot of mystery novels, that’s what. We both grew up loving mystery novels, and so it was a natural genre for us when we decided to collaborate on our first book. In Bury the Lead, our heroine Cat Conway is a journalist caught up in a maelstrom of midlife—she’s been fired from her job, she’s divorced, broke, and on the outs with her son. Her only lifeline is her job at a community newspaper, the Quill & Packet, in the cottage town of Port Ellis. As far as lifelines go, it’s pretty threadbare. Until a famous actor ends up dead onstage at the local theatre. We drew inspiration from a lifetime of reading mysteries, and from reading journalism about all of the wonderful and terrible things in the world. Here are some of the books that inspired us, or that have a similar feeling to Bury the Lead.


Book Cover Mindful of Murder

Mindful of Murder, Susan Juby

Kate: I’ve studied mindfulness over the years, with varying degrees of success, so I loved spending time with Helen Thorpe, ex-Buddhist nun-turned butler-turned amateur sleuth. In Mindful of Murder (which is the first book in Juby’s series; the second, A Meditation on Murder, is also a lot of fun) Helen returns to the Yatra Institute, a retreat centre on an island off the coast of British Columbia, to help carry out her former employer’s last wishes. These involve the administration of a test to determine which of Edna’s distant relatives deserve to assume control of Yatra. Since it appears that Edna may have been murdered, Helen is surrounded by suspects and must rely on her awareness of human frailties to figure out whodunnit. Like Bury the Lead, this is a mystery that draws great humour from its quirky collection of characters, both allies (loyal friends from butler school) and antagonists (Edna’s awful relatives).


Book Coer A Killer in King's Cove

A Killer in King’s Cove, Iona Whishaw

Kate: I love a nostalgic British-style mystery, and Iona Whishaw’s Lane Winslow mysteries never disappoint. In this first book of the series, Lane is escaping memories of difficult war as a member of the British intelligence service. The year is 1946, and Lane has arrived in a small town in British Columbia looking for anonymity and peace. She’s enjoying writing poetry, working in her garden, and accepting baked goods from her curious and elderly neighbours. All is going according to plan until a man’s body is found in the creek behind her property, with her name written on a scrap of paper in his pocket. When Inspector Darling and Constable Ames arrive from Nelson, Lane is pulled into the investigation…but her secrecy about her wartime past makes the detectives wonder if she could be the killer. The Lane Winslow mysteries, like Bury the Lead, make fine use of the geographical setting; like the King’s Cove weather, this mystery is mild if slightly moody, and occasionally unexpected.


Book Cover I Only Read Murder

I Only Read Murder, by Ian Ferguson and Will Ferguson

Kate: With a high-five in solidarity to another co-written comedic murder mystery, I Only Read Murder is a very fun romp that takes full advantage of all the cozy mystery tropes: the small-town setting, the cast of locals with adorable secrets, the red herrings, and most of all, the flawed amateur detective with a heart of gold. Miranda Abbott knew brief fame as Pastor Fran, a beloved television detective, but now she’s fallen so far out of fashion that she can’t even get reality TV gigs. Hoping for a fresh start and a place to live, she follows her ex, Edgar, to Happy Rock, Oregon, where he now runs a bookstore specializing in crime fiction. Her arrival is greeted with a striking lack of enthusiasm, but new friends and old fans encourage her to stay in town and audition for the local theatre company while she tries once again to win Edgar’s affections. When one of the actors is murdered on stage it falls to Miranda to investigate, channelling the detective she once played on screen. Utterly lacking in self-awareness or restraint, Miranda is hilarious company.


Book Cover Dead Cold

Dead Cold, by Louise Penny

Liz: This is the second in Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache series, and the first of the books I read. It’s icy and warm at the same time: The ice that covers Three Pines, the setting for the Gamache novels, is a crucial element in the murder. (And what a murder! It’s shocking.) There’s ice at the heart of CC de Poitiers, our murder victim, who could have been done in by any number of people, including members of her own family. The warmth, of course, comes from Gamache, who is the most humane of detectives. Nothing hard-boiled about him, but he’s not soft either. His brain is a razor. The Three Pines community, tightly knit but sometimes fractious, is exactly the kind of town we were hoping to create in our fictional Port Ellis. A place that is perfect from the outside, but from the outside only.


Book Cover Death at the Savoy

Death at the Savoy, by Prudence Emery and Ron Base

Liz: There are few things I love more than historical mysteries. If you tell me the mystery is set in 1960s London, and that it features appearances by Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Margaret … well, take my money, please. I loved this fizzy, giddy tale of Priscilla Tempest, the Canadian who does public relations for the glamorous Savoy Hotel and ends up investigating a murder (the fact that co-author Prudence Emery was actually the PR person at the Savoy in the 1960s accounts for the delightful level of detail.) This is the first book in a series, and what I loved about Priscilla is that she’s basically a good-hearted lass who sometimes makes terrible decisions, but she keeps bouncing back. Our heroine in Bury the Lead, Cat Conway, also makes questionable decisions, but her intentions are always in the right place. Who wants to read about perfection?


Book Cover Had It Coming

Had it Coming: What’s Fair in the Age of #MeToo? by Robyn Doolittle

Liz: The only nonfiction book on our list, and it’s a corker. The Globe and Mail’s Robyn Doolittle has done such important and groundbreaking work for The Globe and Mail covering sexual assault and its aftermath. In this nuanced and deeply researched book, which sprang out of her Unfounded series for the Globe, she looks at the ways that sexual assault laws operate (or don’t) in this country, and how survivors are impacted by their interactions with the criminal justice system. In our novel, Cat Conway is dealing with the legacy of sexual misconduct on a town and the people in it, and it was important to have a scaffolding of real-life research to turn to. Had it Coming is such an important and readable book.


Book Cover Bury the Lead

Learn more about Bury the Lead:

A big-city journalist joins the staff of a small-town paper in cottage country and finds a community full of secrets … and murder.

Cat Conway has recently returned to Port Ellis to work as a reporter at the Quill & Packet. She’s fled the tattered remains of her high-profile career and bad divorce for the holiday town of her childhood, famous for its butter tarts, theatre, and a century-old feud.

One of Cat’s first assignments is to interview legendary actor Eliot Fraser, the lead in the theatre’s season opener of Inherit the Wind. When Eliot ends up dead onstage on opening night, the curtain rises on the sleepy town’s secrets. The suspects include the actor whose career Eliot ruined, the ex-wife he betrayed, the women he abused, and even the baker he wronged. With the attention of the world on Port Ellis, this story could be Cat’s chance to restore her reputation. But the police think she’s a suspect, and the murderer wants to kill the story—and her too. Can Cat solve the mystery before she loses her job or becomes the next victim of a killer with a theatrical bent for vengeance?

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