***THE HOWARD ENGEL AWARD FOR BEST CRIME NOVEL SET IN CANADA - SHORTLIST***
Sebastian Synard is back. It’s the off-season, and the Newfoundland tour guide introduced in One for the Rock has crossed the island with his spirited teenage son for a weekend exploring the wonders of Gros Morne National Park. But on a hike across the spectacular rockscape of The Tablelands, they discover the half-buried body of a murder victim. Life as a tour guide had its twists and turns, but now Sebastian—with his offhand, Scotch-enriched nature—is crossing a more dangerous landscape, on a path that will leave him face-to-face with a killer.
“Author Kevin Major is adept at providing dramatic locales which are, for the most part, distinct to Newfoundland. While his first Synard mystery is set in St. John’s, Two for the Tablelands takes its name from a geological phenomenon in the grand and austere Gros Morne National Park. Synard and Nick hike over periodite described by the narrator as, ‘a vast geological coup, a sublime triumph of beige.’ This bizarre, unyielding landscape makes a terrific backdrop for murder. The book’s real charm lies with Synard, who is a divorce survivor, slightly pathetic, cynical and on the brink of physical ruin. He apparently imbibes his fair share of Scotch (and then some) while showing remarkable eagerness for adventures between the sheets. In some ways, the character does play to a familiar cliché. However, Synard shines in his exchanges with Nick, a sensitive kid still reeling from his parents’ divorce and achingly in need of his dad. Relationships between fathers and sons are poorly represented in fiction. Here, the one between Nick and Sebastian, is believably drawn and tender. The firm bond with lovable mutt, Gaffer, makes Synard even more endearing (Gaffer is based on a real canine pal of the same name to whom, I noted, the author has dedicated this book.) Synard’s social web--muddied with exes and their cop partners, among others--requires him to push through assumed grievances. The result is a relatable middle-aged man who struggles, and sometimes succeeds, in bettering himself. Major is an accomplished writer; his style is easy and seamless and his work is a pleasure to read.”
“Two for the Tablelands is a well-written tale with more than enough thrills, chills, and unexpected twists and turns to satisfy even the most jaded readers among us.”
"...compelling to the reader is Major’s use and description of a contemporary Newfoundland, with its variable weather and blossoming craft breweries. And one thing that really keeps us with [Sebastian] is his connection with Nicholas, one fueled by guilt and hope and humour... This installment broadens the scope, as well as setting us up for the next in the series. (Three for … somewhere on the Bonavista Peninsula maybe?) This is an interesting project for Major, best known (so far) for his YA novels and historical fiction."