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Crime Fiction Virtual Round Table

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Check out our blog for our Crime Fiction Virtual Table, in which the following authors partake in some fantastic conversation.
Blood Red Summer

Blood Red Summer

A Leo Desroches Mystery
edition:Paperback
also available: Audiobook
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Why it's on the list ...
Wayne Arthurson is an indigenous writer, author of the award-winning and bestselling Leo Desroches series including Fall From Grace, A Killing Winter and the just released Blood Red Summer. He lives in Edmonton and is the 2016 Writer in Residence for the Edmonton Public Library.
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A Cast of Falcons

A Cast of Falcons

A Birder Murder Mystery
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Excerpt

1
The noise. The deafening, terrible noise. The sound of air, rushing through his clothing, tearing at his hair, clawing his lips back into a grotesque grin. Ten seconds? Perhaps. Thirty-two feet per second, per second. A memory. School? Shadows. Sadness. Anger.
     Lightheaded now, lungs unable to snatch the air rushing by. Panic. The rock face a grey curtain hurtling past at one hundred and twenty miles per hour. Terminal velocity. Another memory. School? Or college? Good times. Laughter. Women. Bars. Five seconds? Terminal! I’m dying.
     He had seen the angel, a brief glimpse as he released his grip on the rock face. On life. Pure, white, beautiful. An angel that had brought him death. Angels. Heaven. Too late? Never too late, his mother said.
     His mother. Regrets. Words not spoken. Actions not taken. Taken. Birds. Fear, now. Plunging down through open space. I’m going to die. Repentance. The key. God, forgive me. For the birds. For—
The man watching through binoculars fixed the body’s landing place against the scarred granite backdrop, and then swept the horizon in either direction. Nothing else stirred. He focused again on the rock face and relocated the crumpled form, remembering the sickening flat bounce as life had left it. He lowered his binoculars and sat, deep in thought, seeming not to notice the fierce buffeting of the winds that scoured the bleak landscape. After a moment, he tucked his bins into a canvas bag resting against his hip, careful not to damage the other item inside. Things had changed now, but perhaps there was still a way; and perhaps this other item, now nestling gently against the bins, held the key. He rose from his crouched position and began to make his way toward the towering presence of Sgurr Fiona.
     He moved with haste over the uneven terrain, beneath a sky that was grey and leaden. Swollen rain clouds were riding inland on the onshore winds. A fierce Atlantic squall was on its way and the exposed heath would offer no shelter once the storm arrived. The man wore only a heavy fisherman’s sweater, denim jeans, and walking shoes. He had no coat or waterproofs to ward off the horizontal rains that would soon drive across the landscape.
He had estimated the distance to the rock face at a quarter of a mile, and he could tell now, as he crossed the ground with his steady, purposeful gait, that he’d been about right. Even experienced walkers underestimated distances in these parts. The stark, featureless landscape seemed to draw in the mountains on the horizon, making them appear closer. But the man had spent enough time in the natural world to be alert for its deceptions. It was those of the human world he found harder to detect.
     He moved over the tussocks easily, barely noticing the sprigs of gorse and brambles that snatched like harpies at his trouser cuffs. Once or twice he stumbled over the craggy, moss-covered mounds, but for the most part his progress was sure-footed, even in the flimsy, well-worn soles of his walking shoes. On the horizon, the grey mass of a low cloudbank had begun its inexorable time-lapse march across the landscape. He would need to work quickly if he was to find shelter before the storm came. He had a window, a tiny chink of opportunity: The coming storm would discourage others from venturing out here. But squalls passed over these coastal areas quickly, chased into the inland valleys and hill passes by the relentless coastal winds. Behind the storm would come the clear white-blue skies of the North Atlantic. And then the walkers would return to the trails. It wouldn’t be long before the body was found and reported. He must do what had to be done long before that happened. He needed to be far away by then.
     The last of the vegetation died away and he emerged onto a slight slope of scree that led up to the base of the rock face. Sgurr Fiona towered above him, its peaks already lost in the greyness of the clouds. He stopped for a second to take in its grandeur, and as he looked up, he paused. Until now, only the images of the death, the violent impact of the man’s body hitting the ground, had occupied his thoughts. But the initial shock was starting to wear off,, and he began to recognize a meaning behind what he had seen; an explanation, perhaps. Had the other man recognized it, also, in those last, long terrifying seconds? Had he, too, acknowledged what it might mean? Either way, it was just him, now, standing alone on this empty, windswept heath, who possessed this wisdom, this secret, entrusted to him by another man’s death. He looked up at Sgurr Fiona once again, but the sky below the clouds was empty.
     He approached the body and forced himself to look down at the broken, rag-doll form. It was clear the man had died on impact. The damage seemed to be mostly to the head and face. It was difficult to even make out the features now. He shook his head. It was as if the fates themselves had determined to cloak the death in a double layer of mystery: not only of who the dead man was, but of what he had looked like in life.
     The man felt a momentary wave of sadness for the empty shape at his feet. All that was left of Jack de Laet, with whom he had drunk, and laughed, and swapped lies — and unknowingly, a few truths too — over the previous few weeks. He was a bad man, Jack, one of the worst. But he had been a person, a living, breathing human being. And now he was … what? The man didn’t have time to consider the question. Musing about the afterlife, the great beyond, was for a warm pub, where he would head after this, for a hot meal and a glass of single malt whisky and the comfort of a gently burning fire. Out here, at the base of a granite rock face, under a low, roiling, gunmetal sky, he had work to do.
     He knelt beside the body and slowly began to withdraw the day pack from beneath Jack de Laet’s stiffening form. He worked with great care. He couldn’t see any blood coming from under the body, but if there was any, he knew the small pack could disturb it, smear it, perhaps in a way that a good forensic examiner might be able to detect. He breathed a sigh of relief when the pack finally slithered free showing no traces of blood. He lifted it to one side and peered in. “Ah Jack, you lied to me,” he said quietly, without malice. Using a handkerchief, he withdrew a book from his canvas shoulder bag. It was battered and dog-eared, with a long-faded cover from which the images of a couple of birds, well-drawn and easily identifiable, stared back at him. He took a pen from his pocket and wrote two words on the flyleaf, holding the cover open with the handkerchief. Then he leaned forward to delicately lift the flap on one of De Laet’s jacket pockets. He slid the book in.
     He patted the pocket slightly as he closed the flap and rose from his kneeling position clutching the small day pack.
     “See you soon,” he said. But he wasn’t talking to Jack de Laet.

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Why it's on the list ...
Steve Burrows has pursued his birdwatching hobby on five continents. He is a former editor of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society Magazine and a contributing field editor for Asian Geographic. The first book in the Birder Murder Mystery series, A Siege of Bitterns, won the Crime Writers of Canada 2015 Award for Best First Novel. His latest is A Cast of Falcons. Steve lives in Oshawa, Ontario.
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Blood Always Tells
Why it's on the list ...
Hilary Davidson has won the Anthony Award, the Derringer Award, the Crimespree Award, and two Ellery Queen Reader’s Choice Awards. The author of 18 non-fiction books, Hilary uses her background as a travel journalist in the three novels of her Lily Moore series, setting them in places such as Peru and Mexico. Her latest is the hardboiled standalone Blood Always Tells, which led Tess Gerritsen to call Hilary “the master of plot twists.” Her short story "The Siege" is currently up for an Arthur Ellis Award and an Anthony Award. Visit her online at www.hilarydavidson.com.
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Triggerfish

Triggerfish

A Crime Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : crime
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Why it's on the list ...
Triggerfish is Dietrich Kalteis’s third novel. His debut novel, Ride the Lightning, won the bronze medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Awards and was hailed as one of the best Vancouver crime novels. More than 40 of his short stories have been published internationally, and his screenplay, Between Jobs, was a finalist in the Los Angeles Screenplay Festival. He resides with his family in West Vancouver and is currently working on his next novel.
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The Unquiet Dead

The Unquiet Dead

A Novel
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

“Khan is a refreshing original, andThe Unquiet Dead blazes what one hopes will be a new path guided by the author's keen understanding of the intersection of faith and core Muslim values, complex human nature and evil done by seemingly ordinary people. It is these qualities that make this a debut to remember and one that even those who eschew the [mystery] genre will devour in one breathtaking sitting.” —The LA Times

Despite their many differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Es …

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Crazy Dead

Crazy Dead

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
More Info
Excerpt

The pain of the dark. Eternal blackness smothering my mind. I felt so alone, lying there, staring at the ceiling. It hadn't changed through all my days of darkness, and neither had I. We were both water-stained. Me by tears, and the ceiling by the rain seeping in through some wayward hole. But at least the stain on the ceiling vaguely represented something: a seagull sailing on the wind, its wings tilted up toward the sky in the exact opposite direction that I represented, which was nothing, miles and miles of nothing, in a spiralling descent downward.
I could hear the clatter of dishes down the hall, but the dissonant sounds didn't mean anything to me. It was just noise. Dark noise. And into that wrenching blackness, a voice — my brother Ryan’s, who could not reach me where I was.
“It’s time to go, Cordi.”
I didn't care about going or staying. I was beyond that. Ryan had to pull me off my rumpled bed and lead me out into the sticky black sunshine. I found myself in his dusty old car and wondered vaguely why I was there. I sat immobile and watched the cars go by as we drove through the congested streets of Toronto, until the motion of the car put me to sleep.
Ryan woke me and helped me out of the car into a parking lot covered with a monotony of cars. We weaved our way through them. We went inside a big concrete building that loomed eight or ten storeys above us, and Ryan sat me down in a crowded hallway and left me there. One among many, sitting on hard metal chairs, waiting. Waiting for what?
It was some sort of hospital because there were people in white lab coats. But I stayed there, where Ryan had left me. I guess time passed and he came back for me, bringing with him a red-headed woman dressed all in white, who extended her hand to me. I stared at it, but I did not take it. Seemed so pointless. Why take a hand when the emptiness inside me would render the gesture meaningless?
“I have to go now, Cordi,” said Ryan, and I looked up at him and saw nothing, felt nothing. He kissed me on the forehead and turned to go. I did not turn to watch him leave.
The nurse babbled on about nothing in particular as she led me to an elevator and we went up and up, the little red floor numbers above the door flashing red as we passed them, until the elevator spewed us out into a small lobby. There were glass doors at either end and a glassed-in nursing station straight ahead. She opened one of the doors and led me down a wide grey-tiled hall with painted cinder-block walls. The room I followed her into was a box with beds. I was vaguely aware that there seemed to be a lot of them, and that made me think for some reason of an orphanage, although I had never been to one.
I was an orphan, too. I was an orphan from life.
She must have told me her name, the nurse, but I hadn't taken it in as she gently placed my belongings on one of the beds and said something else I didn't take in. Didn't care to take in. I looked at my belongings. They looked so pathetic and lonely, just like me. The nurse left and I curled up on the bed, cradling my head on my hands. There wasn’t even a curtain to give me some privacy
“You try to kill yourself?” The voice was soft and quiet. She moved her head into my line of sight. Jet-black hair cut in a Cleopatra hairstyle that made her improbably round face look like a balloon. But there was nothing balloonish about her troubled eyes. They were so sunken that they almost imploded into themselves, reflecting a world surely alien to mine. Or maybe not. We stared at each other, but I did not move from where I lay. Not a muscle.
“Naw. You're too out of it to have tried that,” she said, answering her own question. She’d been there, to that place where you couldn’t even lift a finger to help yourself, the place where I was now. I knew it without her having to tell me.
She sat there and talked at me. She kept talking about her “sieve of a mind.” I do remember she told me a joke that made her cackle with a laugh that went on and on and on. And made me want to cry and cry. It was about two little birds on a telephone wire and one little bird says to the other little bird, “Don't some people's voices make your feet tingle?”
I didn't laugh. I remember that. Looking back now, I wonder if she had sensed what was coming, in some way.
When she left I slept for centuries, dreaming dark dreams and empty hopes. I was in a huge barn, with a man, a man who was not my father, and I was swinging on a swing strung high from the rafters and I saw my parents and my brother crying, because they could not find me. Back when I was a little girl. Back when I was going to be a writer. So long ago. So far away.
And the nightmares mercifully faded and I was conscious only of eating, of swallowing pills, aware of people crowded around my bed asking endless questions to my stony silence.
No, I did not try to kill myself. Of that I was sure.
I lived in a daze, the memories of my mind interlaced with the tendrils of a fog that watered down everything I did, everything I was, till I felt I was but a blur on my mind’s horizon, wearing a caution sign that read Severely Reduced Visibility Forever Ahead.
And then one morning I woke up and the sun didn't look quite so black and I felt a tiny quickening in my mind that I had despaired of ever feeling again. I nursed that little glimmer the way one would a small ember in a hearth and day by day it got bigger until one day I spoke. It wasn't much, but it was a way back.
There was, finally, a grey dingy light at the end of the tunnel.

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Why it's on the list ...
Suzanne F. Kingsmill is a zoologist by training and the author of the Cordi O’Callaghan mystery series, four non-fiction books, and numerous magazine articles. She lives in Toronto. Crazy Dead is out in June.
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Another Margaret

Another Margaret

A Randy Craig Mystery
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Why it's on the list ...
Janice MacDonald writes fiction and nonfiction for both children and adults. She is best known for creating amateur sleuth Miranda "Randy" Craig, who appears in the first detective series to be set in Edmonton, where Janice lives and works. Another Margaret,the latest in the series, was published in 2015.
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Green River Falling

Green River Falling

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : cozy
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Why it's on the list ...
R.J. McMillen has spent over 30 years sailing the remote Pacific Northwest on a 36-foot sailboat she and her husband built, visiting the remote coastal communities where her family worked in the early 1900s. She is the creator of the Dan Connor mystery series, which features the occasional partnership of a semi-retired cop and a world-weary Indigenous man. Green River Falling is the third book in the series.
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