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Business as Usual

by (author) Michael Boughn

NeWest Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2011
General, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2011
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    Publish Date
    Dec 2011
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David Sanders is a penniless poet struggling to hold onto his lowly teaching position in his university’s English department. When his girlfriend, botany professor Claire Dumont, receives an invitation from an old friend to investigate a mystery at his vineyard in Niagara wine country, David convinces her to let him tag along. But what starts out as a lark—a chance to escape their stuffy offices and play Nick and Nora Charles—soon puts these amateur sleuths on the trail of a conspiracy far more complicated and deadly than those old mystery novels ever led them to expect.

Michael Boughn’s Business As Usual is a charming, captivating caper that proves a little learning really can be a dangerous thing.

About the author

Michael Boughn worked in the Teamsters for nearly 10 years before returning to university to earn a PhD in 1986 after studying with poets John Clarke and Robert Creeley. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including Iterations of the Diagonal, Dislocations in Crystal, 22 Skidoo / SubTractions, Cosmographia – a post-Lucretian faux micro-epic (short-listed for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 2011), and most recently, Great Canadian Poems for the Aged Vol. 1 Illus. Ed. (BookThug, 2012). He has also published books for young adults, including the Maple Award nominated Into the World of the Dead, a mystery novel, and a descriptive bibliography of the American poet, H.D. He recently edited (with Victor Coleman) Robert Duncan’s The H.D. Book for the University of California Press. He has also published numerous articles on film, writing, architecture and music, most recently "The War on Art and Zero Dark Thirty" in CineAction. He has taught courses at the University of Toronto since 1993, recently focusing primarily on American writing with special emphasis on the innovative writers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Michael Boughn's profile page

Excerpt: Business as Usual (by (author) Michael Boughn)


Monday, August 23, 1993

Bernie Donatello held his breath and jiggled the accelerator pedal. The old truck coughed, jerked, and almost stalled. He yanked his foot off and jammed the clutch in, then tried it again, easing down on the pedal as he slipped the clutch out, praying mechanically, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, blessed is the fruit of thy womb …” His forehead was beaded with sweat, his jaw rigid. The muscles in his right leg were so tight they almost cramped. The truck lurched, coughed, then finally caught and jerked forward, easing out of the dark tunnel mouth of the bridge.

A cone of light flooded the doorway of the empty Customs shed as the truck inched past. Bernie caught a glimpse in the mirror of a uniformed man lurking in the shadows. The truck hiccuped again, faltered, then slid forward, finally slipping out of the bridge like a sick worm oozing out of a metal hole into the wet Canadian night. He hauled the steering wheel to the left, turning the rig toward Bridge Street, checking his mirrors again to make sure the trailer was okay. As the end of the rig cleared the bridge, he saw a shadow flit through the light and disappear into the shed.

Bernie started breathing again. He didn’t know what worried him more—the old rig breaking down, or getting jammed in the little bridge. He knew just how it would feel—he’d run it through his mind so many times—the screech of metal on metal as the rig suddenly jerked to a stop. He’d be trapped like a rat. It was bad enough worrying about the damned guard without having to worry about breaking down or getting stuck. What the hell would he do then? Jump out and run for it, he figured—hightail it back to America and leave the damn truck for Sal to worry about. It would serve the son of bitch right, too.

He breathed deeply, trying to slow down his racing heart. The headlights reflected off the puddles on the greasy black asphalt of Bridge Street. A sharp pain shot through his stomach, and he got that funny taste in his mouth. How much longer could he take this? Every time he came across, it was the same damn thing. It didn’t matter what Sal told him about it all being fixed. It didn’t even matter how many times he made the trip and nothing happened. A million things could go wrong. The truck could get jammed up. Or break down, more likely. They could change the Customs guy, put him on another shift at the last minute. Then what would happen? Bernie would eat it big time, that’s what. And Sal would be gone so fast, all you’d see was a little dust cloud, like in those cartoons.

He thought about being taken under the ground. He tried not to, but he couldn’t help it. Ever since that time he and Edie took the bus up to Toronto, he couldn’t get that picture out of his head. He hated going on the bus because he knew they’d get hassled, but she was worried about him drinking up there and she didn’t want to take the car. She’d put her foot down and that was that. He was right, though. They always stopped you when you were on the bus.

Editorial Reviews


"Business As Usual is bolstered by thorough and engaging character descriptions, and the protagonists are endearing and complex."
~ Jenny Aitken, The Coastal Spectator


"Business As Usual has a light, fresh appeal, with an entertaining and interesting playful rapport between the likeable Claire and David …"
~ The Mystery Site

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