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Fiction Historical

A Sorrowful Sanctuary

A Lane Winslow Mystery

by (author) Iona Whishaw

TouchWood Editions
Initial publish date
Sep 2018
Historical, Women Sleuths, Cozy, Amateur Sleuth
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2018
    List Price

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In the fifth book of the series that the Globe and Mail calls “terrific,” Lane Winslow investigates the murder of an unidentified man she found adrift in a boat near King’s Cove.

Lane Winslow is enjoying a perfect, sunny day at the lake when she spots a gravely injured young man drifting in a sinking rowboat. Hypothermic, bleeding, and soaked in icy, bloody water, he is unable to speak, leaving Lane at a loss. What series of events brought him to this grisly fate?

Darling and Ames are quick to pick up the case, but leads are few until Angela’s young son finds an unsettling clue on the beach—a bright red swastika lapel pin—that points to the National Unity Party of Canada. When the anonymous man succumbs to his injuries, Darling and Lane are thrown headlong into a murder investigation with ties to the old country.

Fans of Maisie Dobbs, Bess Crawford, and the ever-popular Kopp Sisters will be enchanted by Lane Winslow, a clever, no-nonsense sleuth based on the author’s own mother, who was a wartime spy.

About the author

Iona Whishaw was born in British Columbia. After living her early years in the Kootenays, she spent her formative years living and learning in Mexico, Nicaragua, and the US. She travelled extensively for pleasure and education before settling in the Vancouver area. Throughout her roles as youth worker, social worker, teacher, and award-winning high school principal, her love of writing remained consistent, and compelled her to obtain her master’s in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. Iona has published short fiction, poetry, poetry translation, and one children’s book, Henry and the Cow Problem. A Killer in King’s Cove was her first adult novel. Her heroine, Lane Winslow, was inspired by Iona’s mother who, like her father before her, was a wartime spy. Visit to find out more.

Iona Whishaw's profile page

Excerpt: A Sorrowful Sanctuary: A Lane Winslow Mystery (by (author) Iona Whishaw)

Friday, July 18, 1947

When the shot came it deafened him. He fell backwards, down, down, until he lay rocking, facing the night sky, wondering who had been hit. Above him stars whirled like a carousel in the moonless dark, and he felt himself smile at their antics. There was the Great Bear, its north-pointing star, still in the maelstrom, a sign for him. He closed his eyes but felt the rain on his face, wet, falling, as he was. How had he mistaken the rain for stars? He opened his eyes, trying to will the stars back, trying to hear something besides the din reverberating in his skull. He did not hear the urgent whispers or the pounding of the running feet, nor was he aware of the man hiding in the water under the pier, shivering with cold and terror because he had seen it all. He could not remember any moment in his life before this one had engulfed him.


Saturday, July 19

“How long has it been?” O’Brien said into the telephone. It was first thing Saturday morning, and the desk sergeant at the Nelson police station was having a difficult time with a caller. He was leaning heavily on the counter, prepared to take notes but already impatient at the unnecessarily panicked tone of the woman. Young men rarely went missing. Gadding about, more likely.

“He went to work yesterday, and he hasn’t been back. It’s not like him. If he’s planning to stay away, he always tells me. He writes down the phone number if there is one and tells me exactly when he’ll be back.”

“How old is he, ma’am?” O’Brien wrote Friday in his notebook and underlined it.

“He’s twenty. And he never misses work. Mr. Van Eyck at the garage has no idea where he is.”

“Are you sure he hasn’t gone on a bender with some friends, or gone off to see a girl?”

There was a longish silence. “Are you going to help or not? I want to talk to somebody.” The woman sounded desperate and angry.

“I’ll put you through to the inspector,” O’Brien said. Let him deal with it. It was time he got back into the swing of things after his little holiday in London.

Darling was at his desk reading through the notes about an affray at the local hotel bar the day before. Both men had spent the night in jail and had been released that morning, rumpled and smelling of stale beer. They’d fought over a woman. A bigger cliché was difficult to imagine, he thought. He earnestly hoped she would drop them both. The phone triggered a hope that some real meaty case was in the offing, or better yet, that it was Lane Winslow calling.

“That fellow I was talking to is a useless lump! Are you going to help me or not?”

Not Lane, then. “If I can, madam. Tell me what’s happened.”

“My son, Carl, is missing is what’s happened. He went off yesterday. He comes home from the garage at noon every day for his meal, only he never came back at all, and he’s not been seen since. As I told that imbecile a minute ago, it is not like Carl. I’m his mother. I should at least know what is and is not like him, and this is not.”

Darling was sympathetic. In his experience people not behaving like themselves was something to pay attention to.

“Can you tell me your name and where you live?”

“Vanessa Castle, and I live near Balfour. We have a poultry farm. My husband is dead, no surprise, and I’m running the farm. Carl works at the garage. He left in the morning, like usual, put on his hat, and went to work. Only he didn’t, because Van Eyck doesn’t know where he is. He was quite offensive. He asked why I thought he should have seen him.”

“And how old is he?”

Barely containing her impatience, Mrs. Castle snapped, “Twenty.”

“You’re worried something has happened to him,” Darling said, wanting to get away from the barrage of questions.

“Look, he’s always been a good straight boy. Doesn’t drink, even after he signed up near the end of the war and was with those other fellows in training. He used to come home on his leave and tell me some hair-raising stories about how they all behaved. He never did go overseas, but he liked the work on the vehicles and got a job at the garage. I called one of his friends from school, but he’s gone up north to some mining camp. You have to believe me. What’s your name again?”

“Inspector Darling.”

“You have to believe me, Inspector Darling, when I tell you Carl would never go off and not tell me. He was none too happy with his dad’s treatment of me, and he’s kind of tried to make up for it.”

“I imagine you’ve contacted anyone he knows?”

“That’s not a long list. I had to wrestle the name of the mining outfit from his friend’s mother, but I finally got through to him and he hasn’t seen or heard from Carl.”

“His friend’s mother was not willing to tell you where her son was?”

“No, she was not. Kept telling me she didn’t want her son involved.”

That’s odd as well, Darling thought. “Did she say involved with what?”

She hesitated. “I asked her what she meant, and she said something about it being better that her boy got away from all that. The war is over, she tells me. Best leave things be, she tells me. Then she rang off. The idea that Carl is ‘involved’ with anything is ridiculous.”

Darling noted her hesitation. “Did he belong to a club, go to a legion or anything?”

“He went into town sometimes, after work, but he isn’t a drinker. He’d always come home early.”

There was that insistence again that he didn’t drink.

“And you’ve checked the hospital?”

“They don’t have him. I wanted to be relieved when they told me that, but I’m more frightened than ever.”

“Did he go off in a car?”

“Yes, his dad’s old Chevrolet. Yellow, about ten years old. Are you going find him?”

“I’ll need the licence number if you have it. Then I can get on to my colleagues in the RCMP, and my constable and I will come out to see you, if we may. Look at his room and so on. Please don’t tidy up or touch anything till we get there.”

“I don’t know the licence plate. I’ll look for it.” She didn’t sound hopeful.

Darling took down her address, resisted being reassuring, called down the hall to Constable Ames, and was rewarded by silence.

“Where’s Ames gone?” he asked O’Brien irritably.

O’Brien shook his head at the phone receiver. “You said he could have the morning off, sir. He’s helping his mother move some furniture.”

“Why can’t she get moving men like normal people?” It was a rhetorical question, but O’Brien seemed to feel it wanted an answer.

“Because that’s what sons do for their moms.”

Darling hung up his phone and thought about sons and their mothers. He never had much opportunity to do much for his own mother. She had died an agonizing death of cancer when he was sixteen. To this day he couldn’t think clearly about what that had meant to him. The shock of her suffering and the finality of her absence had seared itself into his young mind, and he had stored the memory, tightly sealed and unexamined, in the farthest recesses of his consciousness. His father had once called one of his high school friends a “mama’s boy” and had made an unflattering observation that at least he, Darling, had been saved from that by his mother’s death. All he felt he’d been saved from was understanding women, and perhaps—he thought of Lane Winslow and swallowed—giving himself freely to a relationship without fearing that it would all be taken away.

Glancing at his watch, he saw that the morning was nearly over, and he was feeling a little hungry. He’d have to wait for Ames anyway. “I’m going next door for a quick sandwich. Tell Ames to meet me there.” O’Brien saluted and got back to the crossword puzzle he kept under the files he was meant to be working on.

“Good morning, Inspector. No trusty sidekick today?” the waitress at the counter said. Darling knew April because Ames had gotten into a lot of trouble with her the year before when he dropped her for his current flame.

“He’s helping his mother move some things. I expect him here soon, though, so get your game face ready.”

“A regular fair-haired boy, then. Honestly, I stopped being mad a long time ago. I just love to get his goat.”

“Me too. I admire your technique.”

April beamed engagingly. “What can I get you?”

“A grilled ham and cheese and—” The sound of the door opening caused him to turn. Ames was taking off his hat and advancing cautiously to where Darling was sitting. “And whatever he’s having. Make sure he gets the bill.”



—From A Sorrowful Sanctuary

Editorial Reviews

A Sorrowful Sanctuary (#5)

”An excellent mystery complemented by an appealingly down-to-earth look at life in postwar Western Canada.” —Kirkus Reviews

"Whishaw’s intricately plotted fifth Lane Winslow mystery opens with a bang. . . . Whishaw brings all the narrative threads together for a satisfying finale. Progress in the often-fraught personal relationship between Lane and Darling will please series fans." —Publishers Weekly

“Engrossing and deftly plotted, the latest Lane Winslow Mystery is sure to enthral readers. Filled with rich history, clever intrigue, and subtle romance, this series is perfect for fans of Jacqueline Winspear and Susan Elia MacNeal.” —Anna Lee Huber, bestselling author of the Lady Darby Mysteries and the Verity Kent Mysteries

“If you’ve yet to meet Lane Winslow, erstwhile spy and reluctant detective, you’re in for a treat. Iona Whishaw writes with an eye for the telling detail; she conjures a vanished British Columbia out of thin air. Complex, suspenseful, and deeply felt, this is a smart series for the ages.” —Francine Mathews, author of the Nantucket Mysteries

"There’s no question you should read it—it’s excellent . . . . While you could wait forever to read the series from the start (many books, little time, etc.), the taste offered by A Sorrowful Sanctuary of Lane Winslow and her companions pretty much guarantees you won’t be waiting much longer to go back to the beginning and read everything about them." —Toronto Star

“Captures the tone and depth of a mystery entwined in a story about people taking painful steps forward with post-WWII life. Vivid plotting, inventive dialogue in a setting that puts you right in the action. This is one of the best series currently in print.” —Don Graves, Canadian Mystery Reviews

"An enthralling mystery. The plot intrigues and resonates, sadly, with current events, while the deepening relationships and evolving characters of all the main players add to the appeal of this book . . . Recommended." —Historical Novel Society

Praise for the Lane Winslow Mysteries

A Match Made for Murder (#7) is winner of the 2021 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award

"The ‘find of the year’, Iona Whishaw’s Lane Winslow series is a real treat. Set after WWII, Lane has left England for Canada . . . settling in the small village of King’s Cove. With a quaint cast of characters and the feel of Louise Penny’s Three Pines, the independence and quick wit of Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher and the intelligence of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, this mystery series has it all!" —Murder by the Book, Texas

"Relentlessly exciting from start to finish." —Kirkus Reviews

"Whishaw deftly intertwines plot and psychology, giving readers insight not only into Lane's crime-solving strategies, but the perspectives and lives of her neighbors. The series also follows Lane's inner journey, from complicated family history to postwar trauma to the beginning of new love. Well plotted and laced with dry wit, Lane's adventures are entirely satisfying summer reading." —Shelf Awareness

"Iona Whishaw is a writer to watch." —Globe and Mail

"There’s no question you should read it—it’s excellent." —Toronto Star

“Iona Whishaw’s writing is worthy of taking its place alongside the works of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers. . . deftly crafted and briskly paced.” —Fiona Valpy, author of The Dressmaker’s Gift

"Another fantastic entry in the unique and compelling Lane Winslow series!" —Anna Lee Huber, author of the Lady Darby Mysteries

“I absolutely love the modern sensibility of these novels, of their feminism, sense of justice, their anti-racism, their progressiveness, which somehow never seems out of place in a tiny BC hamlet in 1948. . . But it’s never preachy or pedantic, and Whishaw continues to use her murder mysteries to explore the limitations on women’s lives and freedom that were contemporary to the period, and which are not yet so far away in the rear view mirror.” —Kerry Clare, author of Mitzi Bytes and Waiting for a Star to Fall

"Complex, suspenseful, and deeply felt, this is a smart series for the ages." —Francine Mathews, author of the Nantucket Mysteries

"Exquisitely written, psychologically deft." —Linda Svendsen, author of Sussex Drive

"Iona Whishaw has again raised the bar . . . This is seriously good storytelling." —Don Graves, Canadian Mystery Reviews

"In the vein of Louise Penny . . . a compelling series that combines a cozy setting, spy intrigue storylines, and police procedural elements—not an easy task, but one that Whishaw pulls off." —Reviewing the Evidence

"The setting is fresh and the cast endearing." —CrimeReads

"An enthralling mystery." —Historical Novel Society

"This series . . . continues to get better and better." —Reviewing the Evidence

"A simply riveting read by a master of the genre." —Wisconsin Bookwatch

"A series that’s guaranteed to please." —Mercer Island Books, Washington

"Full of history, mystery, and a glorious BC setting . . . a wonderful series." —Sleuth of Baker Street, Ontario

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