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Fiction Private Investigators

Last Song Sung

A Cullen and Cobb Mystery

by (author) David A. Poulsen

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
May 2018
Private Investigators, Crime, Hard-Boiled
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price

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A musical cold case has Cullen and Cobb back on the beat.

On February 28, 1965, a young singer named Ellie Foster stepped into the alley behind The Depression, a Calgary folk club where she shared the bill with Joni Anderson, later to become famous as Joni Mitchell. During a cigarette break in the back alley, Ellie was forced into a car and the musicians with her were shot and killed. The investigation that followed turned up no sign of the kidnappers, and Ellie Foster was never seen again.

Now, more than fifty years after the singer’s disappearance, Ellie’s granddaughter approaches Cullen and Cobb to try to find out what happened to her grandmother. The search for the truth about Ellie Foster takes the two investigators straight into the past. They find themselves investigating a failed political assassination and discover that there are those who will stop at nothing, even half a century later, to ensure that certain secrets remain untold.

About the author

David A. Poulsen has been a broadcaster, teacher, professional cowboy, football coach, stage and film actor and—most of all—writer. His writing career began in earnest when his story The Welcomin’ won the 1984 Alberta Culture Short Story Competition. Now the author of 27 books, many for middle readers and young adults, David spends 60 to 80 days a year in classrooms and libraries across Canada (and beyond) as a visiting author/presenter. The UBC Creative Writing alumnus and former Writer in Residence at the Saskatoon Public Library recently made his inaugural foray into the world of adult crime fiction with Serpents Rising, the best-selling first book in the Cullen and Cobb Mystery series. There are now four titles in the series and the fourth—None So Deadly—hit bookstores in the spring of 2019. The Man Called Teacher, coming in 2019, is his first adult western. David lives on a small ranch in Alberta’s foothills where he and his wife Barb raise and train running-bred quarter horses for barrel racing competitions.

David A. Poulsen's profile page

Excerpt: Last Song Sung: A Cullen and Cobb Mystery (by (author) David A. Poulsen)

There was something Holmesian about it.
Cobb and I were sitting in his office, drinking Keurig Starbucks, me looking out the window at 1st Street West below us and watching a beautiful twenty-something blonde cross the street and head toward Cobb’s building.
My memory told me that was how several Holmes stories began — except, of course, it was Holmes’s apartment on Baker Street that he and Watson were in and Holmes was either playing the violin or reading the newspaper. Cobb had spent the last hour invoicing clients and telling me in general terms the nature of their cases. To my knowledge, Cobb did not play the violin.
There was, however, a bit of a similarity between Watson and me. Although Holmes’s companion was a doctor and I had spent most of my adult life as a crime writer, first for the Calgary Herald and then as a freelancer for the last several years, the fact was that, like Watson, I was something of a chronicler of the cases Cobb and I had worked on together. I was, at that time, working on a couple of articles I hoped to shop to magazines — articles that recounted the details of our recent investigation into the violent deaths of a number of right-wing media luminaries. That was the reason my computer sat at the ready on a small table in one corner of Cobb’s second-floor space on the corner of 12th Avenue and 1st Street West in the Beltline, an elder statesman among Calgary neighbourhoods.
“You’re about to have company,” I said, not looking away from the street or the young woman, who had clearly favoured denim when she had made the day’s fashion decisions. I was confident of the correctness of my assertion because at the moment, Cobb was the lone tenant of the building, all the others having been temporarily evacuated while renovations were taking place. I’d asked him how it was that a private detective was not inconvenienced with having to vacate his office when other firms with more office space and several actual employees had been. Cobb had smiled as he told me that, as soon as the building manager had mentioned Cobb would have to leave the building for a couple of weeks, Cobb made as if to begin the packing process, pulled several firearms from his closet, and set them on his desk. The manager, apparently not certain whether the weapons were part of the move or had been taken from the closet for some other purpose, decided that Cobb’s office looked “okay as it is” and backed out the door with considerable dispatch.
“Male or female?” Cobb asked, without looking up from his own computer.
“Decidedly female,” I told him.
“And you know she’s coming here because …?”
“Because (a) there’s bugger all else on this side of the street, (b) she keeps looking up here as she gets closer, and (c) she’s now entering the front door of the building.”
“Ah … that last one’s a dead giveaway.”
He closed up his computer in an apparent attempt to look more detective-like for the new arrival and had just completed that task when the knock came at the door. I turned from the window, crossed the office, my slippery city shoes (as Ian Tyson called them) drumming on the aged hardwood, and opened the door. My closer look at the young woman confirmed what I had been fairly certain of from my window view of her. Though the September wind had done her mid-back-length blond hair no favours, she was striking. Young — twenty-ish, I guessed — and … striking.
“Is this the office of Michael Cobb, private detective?” she said in a voice that was breathy but firm. My first impression of her was that she was no-nonsense.
“It is,” I said, and stepped back to allow her to move into the office.
She stepped inside, and Cobb stood up to greet her. There was a momentary look of confusion on the young woman’s face as she looked from me to Cobb and back at me.
I gestured in Cobb’s direction to allay further confusion.
“I’m Mike Cobb,” he said, “and this is my associate, Adam Cullen. Please have a seat.” Cobb indicated a brown leather chair that, until I’d stretched my legs by moving to the window, had been my spot. I took a new position on a hard-backed, hard-seated, cloth-covered thing that offered a comfort level equal to that of a church pew.
When she was settled into her chair, Cobb looked at the young woman. “What is it you think I can help you with, Ms. …?”
“Brill. Monica Brill.”
“Would you care for a cup of coffee, Ms. Brill?”
She shook her head, sat forward in the chair, and looked at Cobb with eyes that confirmed my earlier assessment. She was all business. “I’m interested in hiring a private detective, but I need someone who does more than spy on wayward spouses in divorce cases.” She wasn’t smiling.
Cobb was. “I won’t lie, Ms. Brill, I did a few of those back in the day, but haven’t for a long time. I’m an ex-cop, worked robbery for a few years, homicide for a few more.”
She nodded, then looked over at me, eyebrows lifted. “That’s what my research indicated. Your partner does the divorce work now?” “Neither of us does, actually,” Cobb said, as she turned back to him. “Mr. Cullen is, as I mentioned, my associate. We occasionally work together. Mr. Cullen is particularly good at conducting research. I tend to be more at ease … in the field.”
“Will you be working together on this case?”
“That depends on the nature of the investigation you want me to carry out. Maybe you should tell me how I can help you.” She nodded, pursed her lips, and said, “Maybe I’ll take that coffee, after all.”
“On it,” I said, heading for the Keurig machine. Adam Cullen, researcher and gofer. “How do you take your coffee?”
She smiled. “One sugar, please. No milk.” She turned again back to Cobb. “I’d like you to find my grandmother.”
“Your grandmother is missing?”
“She is. That is, she has been for some time.”
“How long has your grandmother been gone?” Cobb asked.
“Fifty-one years.”
“Make that two coffees,” Cobb said to me.
There was silence in the room for a few minutes, but for the gurgling of the coffee machine. I glanced over my shoulder at the two of them. Cobb was studying the young woman, a quizzical, slightly surprised, but not thunderstruck look on his face. I had never seen Mike Cobb look thunderstruck.
Finally, he spoke. “And are you certain your grandmother is still alive?”

Editorial Reviews

Very well researched—brought tears to my eyes reading about my old haunts and old friends no longer with us … kind of brought them back to life for me.

Amos Garrett, International Blues/Jazz Recording Artist

A great Canadian set read with a great sense of a misunderstood city.

The Book Trail

David A. Poulsen is a brilliant storyteller and observer … Last Song Sung is destined to go to number 1 with a bullet.

Ron MacLean, host, Hockey Night in Canada and Rogers Hometown Hockey

Fans of detecting duos who don’t know Cullen and Cobb need to make their acquaintance immediately.


This tense, suspenseful story has plenty of humor and offers vivid glimpses into Canadian music history.

Publishers Weekly

Last Song Sung is plot driven, compassionate storytelling.

The Bay Observer

Brims with nostalgia for a fondly remembered era set forth in a relaxed, amiable style.

Kirkus Reviews

Fans of The Sixties folk music era will be intrigued by David A. Poulsen’s latest Cullen and Cobb mystery.

Ottawa Review of Books

Other titles by David A. Poulsen