Ever since the accident, ex-cop Tom Parsons’s life has been crumbling around him: his marriage and career have fallen apart, his grown children barely speak to him, and he can’t escape the dark thoughts plaguing his mind. Leaving the urban misery of Winnipeg, he tries to remake himself in the small lakeside town of Valhalla, with its picturesque winter landscape and promise as a “fisherman’s paradise.” As the locals make it clear that newcomers, especially ex-RCMP, are less than entirely welcome, he throws himself into repairing his run-down cabin.
But Tom has barely settled in the town when he finds the body of a fifteen-year-old Indigenous girl on the beach, not far from his home. The police write off Angel’s death as just another case of teenagers partying too hard. But the death haunts Tom, and he can’t leave the case closed—something just doesn’t add up. He begins visiting the locals, a mix of Icelandic eccentrics, drug dealers and other odd sorts you’d expect to find in an isolated town, seeking out Angel’s story. With the entitled tourists with their yachts and the mysterious Odin group living up the lake, Valhalla is much more than it originally seemed. And as Tom peels off the layers, he hopes to expose the dark rot underneath.
W.D. Valgardson’s expert manipulation of metaphor and imagery brings a mythic scale to the murder mystery at the heart of In Valhalla’s Shadows. He shapes a portrait of small-town living with frank depictions of post-traumatic stress, RCMP conduct, systemic racism and the real-life tragedies that are too often left unsolved.
About the author
W.D. Valgardson was born in Winnipeg in 1939 but spent most of his childhood in Gimli, an Icelandic community on Lake Winnipeg. He is chair of the writing department at the University of Victoria. His novel Gentle Sinners (1980) won the Books in Canada first novel award, and he has written books for children and young adults and four collections of stories. "A Matter of Balance," a winner in the 1980 CBC Canadian Literary Awards, is included in What Can't Be Changed Shouldn't Be Mourned &34;1990".
“W.D. Valgardson’s terrific new novel is populated by xenophobic Vikings, pagan back-to-the-landers, a trio of witchy crones, and more than one lonely woman hoping to seduce the wounded ex-cop protagonist. Set in an isolated lakeside town that seems simultaneously contemporary and broodingly medieval, our reluctant sleuth delves into a sudden death and his own traumatic past in a tale brewed from a potent concoction of myth, mystery, and the waters of an ancient inland sea.”
Elizabeth Philips, author of The Afterlife of Birds
“W.D. Valgardson has done it again! From the author of one of my all-time favourite books, The Girl with the Botticelli Face, comes a novel about rebuilding after unbearable loss. In Valhalla's Shadows is both an unfolding mystery and a delightful surprise when it comes to a thrilling cast of characters and the soul renewal that can come from finding a new home in the world. Bravo and mahsi cho, Bill, for pulling us into, under and through Valhalla.”
Richard Van Camp, author of The Lesser Blessed
“In Valhalla’s Shadows opens with the mystery of a young woman’s body on a shore and a stranger in town, a touch of noir and a touch of Chekhov. The story circles around fractured families, suspicion, smuggling, and wounded warriors with Viking echoes—an Icelandic Fargo about the end of the road and brand new beginnings by a masterful writer.”
Mark Anthony Jarman, author of Knife Party at the Hotel Europa
“A damaged ex-Mountie seeks refuge in a lakeside village in Manitoba, to find himself in a Twin Peaks–like web of extreme characters, dark secrets and Nordic lore. Compelling and absorbing from beginning to end.”
John Maclachlan Gray, author of The White Angel