New Books and Featured Reading Lists

Each week on the 49th Shelf homepage, we highlight new releases. We also make theme-based lists and showcase lists from guest contributors and 49th Shelf members. This page archives these selections so they are always available to our members.

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New Non-Fiction for the week of May 21st : New Food and Drink Books
Unicorn Food

Unicorn Food

Rainbow Treats and Colorful Creations to Enjoy and Admire
edition:Hardcover
tagged : desserts, cakes, pastry
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Sweet Bake Shop

Sweet Bake Shop

Delightful Desserts for the Sweetest of Occasions
edition:Hardcover
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Awesome Ancient Grains and Seeds

Awesome Ancient Grains and Seeds

A Garden-to-Kitchen Guide, Includes 50 Vegetarian Recipes
edition:Paperback
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Dirty Gourmet

Dirty Gourmet

Food for Your Outdoor Adventures
edition:Paperback
tagged : camping
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The Chickpea Revolution Cookbook

The Chickpea Revolution Cookbook

85 Plant-Based Recipes for a Healthier Planet and a Healthier You
edition:Hardcover
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Eating Local in the Fraser Valley

Eating Local in the Fraser Valley

A Food-Lover's Guide, Featuring Over 70 Recipes from Farmers, Producers, and Chefs
edition:Paperback
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The Great Shellfish Cookbook

The Great Shellfish Cookbook

From Sea to Table: More than 100 Recipes to Cook at Home
edition:Paperback
tagged : seafood, canadian
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Steak Revolution

Steak Revolution

All Cuts, All Ways—Perfect Every Time
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
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101 Amazing Uses for Turmeric

101 Amazing Uses for Turmeric

Reduce joint pain, soothe your stomach, make a delicious dinner, and 98 more!
edition:Paperback
tagged : nutrition
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This week's recommended reading lists

Go Jump in the Lake

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New Fiction for the week of May 14th : New Mystery/Thriller
It Begins In Betrayal

It Begins In Betrayal

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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The Marmalade Murders

The Marmalade Murders

A Penny Brannigan Mystery
edition:Hardcover
tagged : cozy
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Last Song Sung

Last Song Sung

A Cullen and Cobb Mystery
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

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?”

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Murder Among the Pines

Murder Among the Pines

A Maxine Benson Mystery
edition:Paperback
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An Old, Cold Grave

An Old, Cold Grave

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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The Imam of Tawi-Tawi
Excerpt

“What is this potential problem?” Ava said.

Chang hesitated. She thought she heard ice clinking in a glass and wondered if he was drinking. “Ava, I would like that explanation to take place in Manila,” he said. “I know this will sound vague and maybe even conspiratorial, but I’m not comfortable explaining it to you over the phone. First, it’s very complicated, and I’m not as well informed as some other people I’d like you to talk to. Second, this isn’t something that can be explained in half an hour, or even several hours. I believe you should meet and take the measure of the people who’ve related at least part of their suspicions to us.”

“And you have no one in the Philippines you can turn to?”

“Absolutely not. As I said, this is about trust, and the number of people who Tommy and I truly trust we can count on one hand. Of those, only one lives in Manila, and he’s the first person we want you to talk to.”

“Uncle, I really don’t know what to say. I have other responsibilities now.”

“Give us one day,” he said quickly. “Get on a plane tomorrow and come to Manila for one meeting. If you decide to go back to Toronto or Hong Kong or wherever after that, the issue will never be mentioned again and we’ll still be grateful for your time.”

“I’m expected in Shanghai tomorrow for a business review that’s scheduled to last several days.”

“Postpone it,” Chang said. “Please, Ava.”

The word please startled her. It wasn’t something she could remember Chang or Tommy Ordonez ever uttering. Not only was it out of character, in her mind it was an acknowledgement that she was their equal.

“I can’t give you an answer this minute,” she said. “I have to think about it, and I also want to talk to my partners and the people expecting me in Shanghai.”

“Of course, do that,” he said. “But there is urgency to this matter. Waiting four days to talk to you wasn’t easy — more than once I reached for the phone. Can you possibly speak to them tonight?”

“Yes, I can, and I’ll call you when I have.”

“I’ll stay up until I hear from you,” he said.

“Uncle, you do understand this doesn’t mean I’m leaning towards saying yes?”

“Please, give us that one day, Ava,” Chang said. “My belief is that if you do, you’ll commit to helping us get to the bottom of this problem.”

He’s dangling bait, she thought. She admired how skillfully he had handled his end of the conversation: He had started it by invoking their connection through Uncle. Then he’d complimented her while insisting that he thought she was above flattery. Finally, he had framed his request as a personal favour. She didn’t know why he thought he had the right to ask for one, since he and Ava were hardly friends, but he had anyway and it had been exactly the right approach. Indeed, it was probably the only approach that had a chance of succeeding with her.

“Let me make some calls,” she said.

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The Grave's a Fine and Private Place
Excerpt

•One•

I am on my deathbed.

Again.

Although I have done everything in my power to survive, it has not been enough. A human being can only bear so much.

I turn my face to the wall in bitter remembrance.

Father had died suddenly at Christmas, leaving a colossal vacuum which we quickly realized would never—­could never—­be filled. In some strange way, he had been the secret glue which held us all together, and with his passing my sisters and I, never friends at the best of times, had now—­and quite inexplicably—­become the most deadly of mortal enemies. Each of us, wanting desperately to be in charge—­to gain some control over her shattered life—­found herself at odds with the others at every turn. Words and crockery were thrown with equal carelessness. It didn’t seem to matter much who was hit.

With our family on the verge of breaking up, Aunt Felicity had come down from London to sort us out.

Or so she claimed.

In case we had forgotten it, we were quickly reminded of the fact that our dear auntie was—­as the Book of Common Prayer so charitably puts it—­a woman who followed the devices and desires of her own heart.

In short, she was at best a stubborn old woman and at worst a bully and a tyrant.

Buckshaw was to be sold at once, Aunt Felicity insisted, even though in law it was mine to do with as I pleased. Feely was to be married off to her fiancé, Dieter Schrantz, with all haste—­or at least as quickly as possible—­as soon as a respectable period of mourning had been observed.

Daffy would be sent up to Oxford to read English.

“Who knows but that, given time, you might even become a gifted teacher,” Aunt Felicity had said, upon which Daffy had thrown her teacup and saucer into the fireplace and stormed out of the room.

Tantrums were useless, Aunt Felicity had told us icily. Tantrums solve no problems, but only create new ones.

As for me, I was to be taken up to London, along with my cousin Undine, to live with Aunt Felicity until she could decide what to do with us. In my case, I knew that meant sending me somewhere to continue those studies which had been interrupted when I was chucked out of Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, in Canada.

But what of Dogger and Mrs. Mullet? What would become of them?

“They shall be paid off and each given a small pension in proportion to their years of service,” Aunt Felicity had decreed. “And I’m sure they will both be very grateful.”

Dogger fobbed off with a pension? It was unthinkable. Dogger had given us almost his entire life: first to my father, then to my mother, and later to my sisters and myself.

I pictured him sitting on a quaint wooden bench by a river somewhere, dressed in a rough-­spun pensioner’s jacket, forced to beg bread from the passing tourists, who took occasional snapshots of him to send home to their cretinous relatives.

Dogger deserved better than that.

And Mrs. Mullet?

Left to cook for total strangers, she would languish and die, and we would be responsible.

Our lives were looking exceedingly grim.

Then, at the beginning of February, to make matters worse, King George had died: King George VI, that lovely man who once sat and chatted so happily with me in our drawing room as if I were his own daughter; and with his passing, the entire nation—­indeed all of the Commonwealth countries, perhaps even the whole world—­joined in the shock and sadness of our own recent bereavement.

And what of me? What of Flavia de Luce?

I would perish, I decided.

Rather than submit to a lifetime locked in some dismal pigeon-­infested London square with an aunt who valued the Union Jack more than her own blood, I would simply do away with myself.

And as an authority on poisons, I knew precisely how to accomplish it.

No cyanide for me, thank you!

I knew the symptoms all too well: the vertigo, the dizziness, the burning in the throat and stomach and, as the vagus nerve becomes paralyzed, the difficulty in breathing, the cold sweat, the feeble pulse, the muscular paralysis, the crushing heaviness of the heart, the slobbering .?.?.

I think it was the slobbering, more than anything, that put me off the cyanide. What self-­respecting young woman would want to be found dead in her bedroom drowned in her own drool?

There were easier ways of joining the Heavenly Choir.

And so, here I am on my deathbed, all warm and cozy, my half-­closed eyes moving slowly for the last time across that ghastly red-­clotted mustard-­yellow wallpaper.

I shall simply fall asleep and they will never find so much as a trace of what it was that did me in. How clever of me to have hit upon it!

They’ll be sorry, I thought. They’ll all be sorry.

But no! I mustn’t let it end like that. Mustn’t let it end with such a commonplace expression. That was the kind of platitude milkmaids died with—­or match girls.

The death of Flavia de Luce demanded something greater: some great and noble words to hold in my mind as I stepped across the threshold of the universe.

But what were they to be?

Religion had been done to death.

Perhaps I could conjure up some great insight into the peculiar electron bonding of diborane (B2H6), for instance, or the as yet unsolved atomic valences of Zeise’s salt.

Yes, that was it!

Paradise would welcome me. “Well done, de Luce,” the vast crystal angels would say, flickering with frozen fire as I set foot upon their doorstep.

I hugged myself, cuddling in my own warmth.

How comfortable death was when properly done.

“Miss Flavia,” Dogger said, breaking in upon my pleasant thoughts. He had stopped rowing the skiff for a few moments and was pointing.

I snapped out of my reverie in a split second. If it had been anyone but Dogger, I’d have taken my sweet time about it.

“That’s Volesthorpe over there,” he said, pointing. “St. Mildred’s is just to the left of the tallest elm.”

He knew I wouldn’t want to miss it: St.-­Mildred’s-­in-­the-­Marsh, where Canon Whitbread, the notorious “Poisoning Parson,” had just two years ago dispatched several of his female parishioners by lacing their Communion wine with cyanide.

It had been done for love, of course. Poison and Passion, I have discovered, are as closely connected as Laurel and Hardy.

“Looks a harmless enough place,” I said. “Like something from the pages of Picturesque England.”

“Yes,” Dogger said. “Such places often do. Horrific crimes can sometimes bleed a location of all feeling.”

He fell into silence as he gazed across the water and I knew he was thinking of the Japanese prisoner-­of-­war camp in which he and Father had been so badly abused.

As I have said, Father’s death, six months ago, was the reason we were now adrift on the river: my sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, and, of course, me, Flavia.

Undine, as originally planned, had already gone up to London with Aunt Felicity.

In the bow, her face damp with mosquito repellent, Feely lay languishing on a couple of striped pillows, staring down at her own reflection in the still water just ahead of our punt. She had not spoken since we set out this morning. The fingers of her right hand hammered out a tune on the gunwales—­one of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words: I recognized it by the rhythm—­but her face was a perfect blank.

On the raised wicker seat, Daffy sat hunched over a book—­Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy—­oblivious to the glorious English landscape sliding slowly by on either side.

Father’s sudden and unexpected death had knocked our family into a kind of coma, brought on, I believe, by the fact that we de Luces are constitutionally incapable of expressing our grief.

Only Dogger had broken down, howling like a dog in the night, then silent and impassive in the long and tortured days that followed.

It was pitiful.

The funeral had been a shambles. Denwyn Richardson, the vicar and one of Father’s oldest and dearest friends, had been seized at the outset by uncontrollable sobbing, unable to continue, and the service had to be halted until a stopgap clergyman could be found. In the end, poor old Canon Walpole was located in the next village, dragged from his sickbed, and rushed to St. Tancred’s, where he finished what his colleague had begun, barking from a rattling chest cold at the graveside like a hundred hounds.

It was a nightmare.

Bent on taking charge, Aunt Felicity had (as I have said) swooped down from London, the death of her only—­and younger—­brother having driven her into a frenzy, during which she treated us all like particularly dim-­witted galley slaves, slinging orders about like a grill cook:

“Straighten those magazines, Flavia. Put them in alphabetical and then in chronological order, right side up, in the cupboard. This is a drawing room, not a jackdaw’s nest. Ophelia, fetch a mop and pull down those spider’s webs. The place is like a tomb.”

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The God Game

The God Game

A Dan Sharp Mystery
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

Things weren’t going well for private investigator Dan Sharp. He had just spilled coffee on his new suit, and he sat dabbing ineffectually at the stain with a damp cloth. Just five minutes ago, he’d learned the warehouse that housed his investigations office would close permanently come summer, to be gutted for condominiums. This was prime real estate overlooking the Don River; it was bound to happen sooner or later. Like it or not, he had three months to find a reasonable substitute for the place he’d thought of as a second home for the past five years.
On top of that, the food for the wedding had come in priced at nearly twice what he was expecting. They’d already tossed out the idea of flowers as an unnecessary expense, but this was a gay wedding and food was a must. It went without saying that theirs had to be a spectacular menu.
Weddings were not Dan’s idea of fun. Not because he was afraid of commitment; he just didn’t like circuses, whether three-ring or of the domestic variety. For Dan, a vow meant giving your word and sealing it in your heart. Ceremonies were for the crowning of monarchs, the consecration of altars, and the opening of shopping malls and theme parks.
Getting married was Nick’s idea. At first, Dan had laughed. He thought his partner was joking. They’d barely known each other a year then. He shook his head and said, “Thanks, but I’m not the marrying kind.” Nick had stared him down. “Well, I am.” Then he got up and left the room, leaving Dan sitting there dumfounded.
That wasn’t the end of the subject. Not by a long shot. Dan wasn’t sure whether they were having an argument or just a difference of opinion. Nick could be garrulous one moment and silent as the grave the next. Something about him demanded attention. Put it down to all the police training. Even off duty, cops commanded authority; they didn’t confer it on others. Any time they disagreed, Dan felt as if he were being given the third degree by an officer of the law investigating with probable cause.
For Dan, it boiled down to whether he wanted to buy into an institution that had long denied the validity of non-traditional relationships. But he hedged, couching it in material terms when they next discussed it: “It’s a racket, Nick. Thousands of dollars for what? To say ‘I love you’ in a church?”
“How much is my love worth to you?” Nick asked.
Low blow,” Dan countered. Still, he knew better: to give Nick an inch was dangerous. He went in for the kill. “As an institution, marriage is conservative and backward thinking. I’ve given you my word. Do you need to own me on paper like some sort of real estate transaction?”
“It’s a statement, Dan. A very radical statement. It says we’re willing to stand up and be counted in a world that denies our legitimacy. They hate us. They outlaw and kill us in many places around the globe. Why not say we’re proud of who we are in one of the few countries where we can do that? And in case you’re wondering, I wouldn’t marry just anyone. It’s you or no one.”
In the end, they had compromised: a small ceremony, but legal. Not much pomp and lots of standing up to be counted among those who mattered to them. Which still didn’t mean Nick was willing to settle for cheap, Dan reminded himself. And that was why he found himself staring at a quote from a very chic catering company offering a menu created by a three-Michelin-starred chef for twenty-five people at four hundred bucks a plate. Maple-glazed bison on black truffle pasta, grilled Mission figs stuffed with Stilton and wrapped in prosciutto, wild boar meatballs in almond sauce, an arugula-walnut-cranberry salad, and lemon tiramisu with white chocolate lace pastry to finish. All this with hand-selected cheeses and wines. Nothing but the best. Yes, it was more than impressive, but was it worth it? Dan struggled with that. Ten thousand dollars would go a long way toward paying for his son Kedrick’s education, for instance. Or feeding a homeless person or getting LGBT youth off the street and into safe living conditions.
Being conscientious had its price.
Dan pushed the quote aside and picked up the phone to tell Nick they needed to find another caterer. He was interrupted by a knock. A shape hovered over the frosted glass like a milky alien outline. Cold calls were rare in Dan’s world. Most first-time clients were either fearful of consulting a private investigator or else so obsessed with their privacy that they contacted him by phone or email.
This one apparently wasn’t put off by such concerns. The door opened on a big man with a bulky torso, bristling with energy. On seeing Dan, he entered without waiting to be asked and offered a large, furry hand. “Peter Hansen.”  The name sounded vaguely familiar.
“Dan Sharp.”
Hansen’s gaze went around the office, gauging and appraising: old furniture, raw brick, original art, classic texts on the bookshelf. A man in a hurry. Better to make your assessment first and then decide what you want.
“You come recommended,” he said, seemingly satisfied. “Yeah, you’re the one I want.”
It wasn’t much of a compliment, but Dan could tell a man like Peter Hansen wouldn’t have come had the recommendation been half-hearted.
He named a client Dan had worked for several years previously. The case hadn’t been unusual or noteworthy, but Dan’s results were both quick and decisive. That, more often than not, was why people kept coming to him.
Hansen placed a valise on Dan’s desk, snapped it open, and slid a black-and-white photograph under Dan’s gaze.
“My husband,” he said in a tone that suggested a deep ambivalence.
Dan looked down at a thin, handsome face whose expression hovered somewhere between uncertain and fearful. A man trying to escape notice.
“Name?”
“Tony Moran.”
“How long has he been missing?”
Peter regarded him warily. “How did you know he was missing?”
Dan looked him up and down. “You don’t look like the kind of man who would pay someone to sort out his domestic affairs if you thought you could do it yourself.”
“Fair enough. Tony’s been missing since the weekend. Friday, probably. I was away for the evening. He wasn’t home when I got back in the early hours on Saturday.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“I don’t want sympathy. I want you to find him.”
Dan overlooked Peter’s abruptness. “Do you suspect foul play? Kidnapping? Anything dire?”
Peter shook his head. “Not at this point.”
“Where do you think he might be?”
“He’s got a fear of flying and he doesn’t drive, so chances are he’s right here in the city. I’ve cut off his credit cards.”
“Any obvious reasons for disappearing? An affair, perhaps?”
“No.” Peter paused. “Maybe. We had an argument. Over money.”
“Did you hit him?”
Hansen made a face. “No.”
Dan pushed the photo back and looked at Peter. “Well, then that pretty much covers it. My guess is he’ll come home when he cools off and runs out of places to stay.”
“I’m not so sure,” Peter added. “He’s a gambler. He lost a lot of my money and doesn’t want to have to confront me over it.”
Nor would I, Dan thought. “How long have you been married?”
“Three years.”
“I still say he’ll be back when he’s ready.”
Peter stabbed Dan’s desktop with an angry finger. “I came here to hire you.”
“And do you want your husband back or just the money?”
Peter bristled. “Just find him. Please. Before he causes me any more embarrassment.”
“Have you been on my website? Do you know my terms?”
Peter nodded. “I have. I do.”
“Okay. I’ll take a look around. If I agree to take on the case, I’ll draw up a contract and we can set up a time to go over it together in the next couple of days.”
Peter shook his head. “No contract. I don’t want anything on paper.”
Before Dan could protest, Hansen put up his hand. “I’m in politics, Dan. My boss is a high-profile minister at Queen’s Park and there’s an election coming up. I can’t have a whiff of this hitting the street. I want no paper trails. I need your absolute discretion.”
He reached into his case, drew out an envelope and placed it on the desk.
“Here’s your retainer. I don’t want a receipt. All I care about is results. Everything you need to know about Tony is in here.” He glanced down at the caterer’s quote on Dan’s desk. His eyebrows went up. “Thinking of getting married?”
Dan nodded.
“My advice? Don’t do it. They’re always more trouble than they’re worth.”
He turned and strode to the door. Then, with one hand on the knob, he looked back at Dan. “If you need more money, let me know.”
The door opened and closed. The whirlwind subsided.  Dan waited till Hansen’s footsteps receded, then slit open the envelope. He thumbed through a pile of thousand-dollar bills, ten in total, wrapped in a sheet containing Tony Moran’s particulars. His eyes ran down the page. Tony was a high school graduate, with a further couple years at a business college. A few of his past jobs were noted, including a stint as assistant manager of a Wendy’s franchise.  Not a big achiever, then.
Dan glanced at the picture again. Despite Tony’s good looks, there was something skin-deep about them suggesting he might attract a certain type of partner quickly, but not stay the term. His polo-shirt-and-sweater combo smacked of conservative taste, but with a narcissistic undertone. Then again, he had a low-rent sort of sex appeal. The sort of man a Peter Hansen might look on as material for moulding, someone to impress with a helping hand out of the gutter. Pygmalions were a dime a dozen.
Three local addresses were listed at the bottom of the sheet. Dan suspected they would turn out to be gambling dens. He picked up the bills again. It was a lot of money, far more than what he normally asked for as a retainer. It seemed Peter Hansen was serious about wanting his husband returned. Maybe Nick would have his chi-chi caterer after all.

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Bleeding Darkness

Bleeding Darkness

A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Excerpt

“You have one fine set of knockers, you know that, right?”
Lauren propped herself up on the hotel pillows and knocked a cigarette out of the pack on the bedside table. She blew a perfect smoke ring while Salim’s tongue worked its way from one breast to the other and licked its way down her stomach. Her hand found the top of his head and gently pulled until he stopped and looked up at her. His black eyes reminded her of a cat’s, sly and otherworldly.
“What?” he asked.
She kept the regret she was feeling out of her voice. “I don’t have time for round two. I’m leaving the city for a while.”
“Where’re you going?” His finger circled her belly button.
“My father’s not well and I promised my mother I’d … God, don’t stop whatever it is you’re doing.”
He grinned. “Did your schedule open up all of a sudden?”
“Yes. I mean no.” She pushed herself off the pillows and lowered her face to kiss the top of his head. She was going to have to be the one to show some self-restraint. She said with feigned conviction, “I have to go and you have to get back to the office, Salim.”
He rolled onto his back and crossed his hands over his chest. The loud release of air through his nose expressed his frustration, but she ignored him. She stood and stretched her arms over her head, breasts and belly pushed forward, all the while knowing that he was looking at her body and liking the feeling. She dodged his hand as he reached over to pull her back on top of him.
“I can’t get enough of you,” he said, his voice low and thick with lust.
“Don’t sound so surprised.”
He plumped up the pillows she’d vacated and flopped against the headboard. “When you hired me, I had no idea this is what you had in mind, but I’m not complaining.”
“No, I don’t suppose you are.” She crossed to the desk where she’d laid her clothes across the back of the chair. “I need to have the kitchen drawings completed before Monday morning.”
“You’re going to owe me one if I have to work on my day off. I have an idea how you can pay me.”
“Whatever it takes.” She smiled. “You’ve almost nailed the design but she’s not happy with the position of the island and the flow into the dining area.”
“I’ll see what I can do. Will you be back early in the week?”
She hesitated on her way to stepping into her panties. “I have no idea how long I’ll be away. Let me know when you’ve saved the drawings and I’ll access them from my laptop. If worse comes to worst, you can take the meeting with the client and I’ll call in.”
“Hurry back.”
“Believe me, I wouldn’t even be going if I had a choice.”

Three hours later, Lauren sat in the driver’s seat of her Honda Civic, forearms resting on the steering wheel, staring at her parents’ house on Grenville Crescent. The last time she’d been home had been the year before in the spring for her dad’s birthday, having gone south for Christmas on an all-inclusive holiday with Salim to avoid the usual holiday depression. The trip home in April had been a quick overnight visit, and then back to the safety of her life in Toronto. Her parents had lived in this house since their wedding day forty years ago. A seventies split-level with a twocar garage on a treed lot — oak and maple now bare of leaves. Shingles on the roof were lifting in spots where snow hadn’t accumulated. The white siding had turned a dull beige in the fading sunlight. A light snow had fallen the last hour of her drive from Toronto and coated the driveway and sidewalk. Her father would have cleared both by now if he’d been home.
She looked to the right of their property, at the Orlovs’ house, and saw the same slow decay taking over the property. Boris and Antonia had been living there as far back as she could remember. They’d never had any kids and Lauren had resented them for it when she was younger. She’d longed for a girl next door to hang out with instead of her two brothers.
On the other side of her parents’ house, the woods stood thick and dark, the deciduous tree limbs bare of foliage. A path cut through the trees, marking an opening to the Rideau Trail, almost four hundred kilometres of interconnected pathways through the back country between Ottawa and Kingston. She’d planned to bike the length of it once but never had. A boulevard of trees across from their house in the middle of the road blocked out the neighbours and made her feel as if they lived in the country.
She took another drag from the cigarette burned down to a stub between her gloved fingers. A car she didn’t recognize was in her parents’ driveway and she wondered which of her brothers had made it here ahead of her. Probably Adam. Tristan and Vivian would make an entrance as usual, or at least that’s how the vivacious Vivian would arrange it.
She began to feel the chill through her thin wool coat, so she butted her cigarette out in the ashtray and opened the car door at the same time that her mother opened the front door of the house. Her mom stood backlit by the hall light. Clemmie was next to her, tail a waving flag as he looked up, waiting to see if they’d be going for a walk. She swiped a hand across her eyes and swore softly.
Damn it all to hell. I hate that I have to be here. I hate that this is happening.
Lauren hugged her mom, who hugged her back with one arm, her ear pressed to a cellphone. “Just talking to Ruth,” she said. “I’ll order pizza when we’re done. Take your old room.”
Lauren felt the familiar disappointment. Against all reason, she’d hoped for a warmer greeting this time with her dad so ill, but her mom put little pressure into the hug and turned away as she waved Lauren inside, already saying something into the phone. Lauren carried her suitcase upstairs and lay on the single bed for a moment, closing her eyes and breathing in the smells of her childhood. She knew that it was only the fabric softener, but it was the same fabric softener her mother had bought forever.
Welcome home, Lauren.
She found Adam in the den working on his laptop. He glanced up at her and back down at the keyboard. “Hey, kid.”
“Hey,” she answered and sat in the chair next to him. Clemmie flopped at her feet. She reached down to scratch behind his ears. She and Adam had never had a demonstrative relationship, but a hug wouldn’t have killed him. “Mom’s finishing up a phone call with Aunt Ruth and then she’s going to order pizza.”
“I’m starving so that’s good news.” He typed a few more words before shutting his laptop. He smiled at her. “I like your hair short and white. Very on trend. Hipster.”
She touched the back of her neck, surprised at the compliment. “Thanks, I think. When are Tristan and Vivian expected to arrive?”
“Mom said tomorrow morning.”
She studied her brother, whom she hadn’t seen in over a year. He looked tired, his brown eyes that could snare a woman’s interest with one glance bloodshot, and the way he slumped into the couch, dripping exhaustion. He’d lost weight since the last time they’d met up in Toronto on one of his stopovers. “Are you still on the western and northern routes?” she asked.
“I accepted a new itinerary at the end of the summer. I’m flying between Vancouver and Hong Kong now. Didn’t Mona tell you?”
“No, but we haven’t spoken in a while. That’s a big change. Did you ask for it?”
“I was ready for something else.”
“How does Mona feel about that?”
“Good, I guess. I’m home more now since half the stopovers are in Vancouver.”
“I was hoping to see her this trip.”
“It’s hard for her to leave her class and Simon isn’t good when his routine is disrupted, but she’ll come for the funeral.”
They were silent for a moment, thinking about their father’s impending death without the idea of his passing seeming real. Lauren didn’t want to contemplate the change this would bring to her family … at least, not before it happened. “What grade is Mona teaching this year?”
“Four, and Simon just entered grade three at the same school. He’s got a full-time teacher’s aide with him, which is helping.”
Even though they hadn’t seen each other in a long time, she knew her brother well enough to hear the frustration underlying his words. “I imagine it’s been tough for you.” She remembered how hard he’d taken having a son with special needs. Mona had wanted to try for a second child but Adam had so far refused.
“Tougher for Mona,” he said. “Your kitchen and bath design business appears to be doing well.”
“Can’t complain.”
She started to talk about her latest kitchen project but before she’d finished her first sentence, Adam opened his laptop again and clicked on a couple of keys. He glanced up at her and back at the screen a few times, pretending an interest in her work that she knew he didn’t have. She let her words trail off after a few moments and stood up. Clemmie was instantly on his feet, eager chocolate eyes fixed on her face. “Just heading out for a walk with Clem,” she said.
“Right, see you later then.” Adam glanced up and smiled one last time. She heard the keys tapping in earnest as she went in search of her coat and the dog’s leash.
“Well, Clemmie,” she said as she bent down to grab his collar, “At least you’re always glad to see me.”

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Swim-Lit

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New Non-Fiction for the week of May 7th : New: Life Stories
The Never-Ending Present

The Never-Ending Present

The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

Day for Night

Jimmy McDonough: “Did you want destroy your audience as soon as you got it?”

Neil Young: “Turnover. Like in clubs where they turn over the audience. Did you ever notice that if the same audience stays, the second set usually isn’t as good as the first set? But if they turn the audience over, the second set could be better than the first set? Because with me that’s the way it is.”

--

Rock’n’roll should make you scared. It’d kinda what it does. Scared with the thrill of intoxication, of sexuality, of danger, of staring into either the darkest abyss or the most blinding light.

If you’re the money man, however, your greatest fear is that the record just won’t sell.

When Allan Gregg first heard Day for Night, he called Jake Gold. He told him, “Look, ‘Nautical Disaster’ is a radio hit. The rest is almost unlistenable. They’re not finished. They have to go back into the studio.” Gold brought this news to the band. It did not go over well. A meeting was called. “This is the finished record,” the band insisted. Then, being Canadian, they offered Gregg a gentle out: “We think it might be better to have you as a friend than as a manager.”

Gregg was ready for this news. He’d had a hell of a year, during which the Hip’s ascension was the only good thing going for him. In the fall of 1992, he led the failed referendum campaign in favour of the Charlottetown Accord. One year later, he was campaign manager for prime minister Kim Campbell’s election campaign, in which the governing Progressive Conservatives were driven to a fifth-place finish in the general election, threatening to wipe the founding political party of the country off the map. On top of that, he was surrounded by cancer: both his father and his best friend died of it, and his wife was diagnosed. He wasn’t totally happy with recent band decisions, either: they had gone to Australia and filmed a video for “At the Hundredth Meridian” that Gregg thought was a “fucking abomination.”

He was exhausted. So when the Tragically Hip dropped off a mysterious, murky album on his desk with no obvious singles, he was less than receptive. “Look,” he told them at the band meeting, “at the end of the day, your fucking name is on this record—not mine. If you can live with this shit, that’s up to you. But I won’t have any part of it.” Though he remained a financial partner with Jake Gold in the Management Trust, Gregg receded into the background and didn’t have any direct involvement with the Tragically Hip again.

Day For Night sold 300,000 copies in the first four days of its release on Sept. 6, 1994. It went on to sell 300,000 more. (Fully Completely, by comparison, took three months to sell its first 200,000 copies.) It spawned six radio singles and four videos. In February 1995, it allowed the band to launch the biggest-ever tour of Canada by a homegrown band, playing the arenas in ever major market, sometimes with multiple dates; it was a feat they would repeat two years later.

It was by no means a sure bet; Allan Gregg had every reason to be antsy. The Tragically Hip had gone dark. It’s right there in the title. They left the radio-ready ways of Fully Completely behind and made a sludgy record that was more Eric’s Trip than Tom Cochrane. They could have gone bright pop. They could have cashed in and gone grunge, playing catch-up with Pearl Jam. They could have wrapped themselves in the flag. They didn’t. Because of Fully Completely’s blockbuster status, the Hip found themselves in a position to indulge. For the first time in their career, they were not eager to please. It was time to roll the dice.

--

An artist’s first album after a massive success is always tricky. Do you try to climb the same mountain? Do you try to climb a similar mountain? Or do you try deep-sea diving instead? Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk. Prince’s Around the World in a Day. Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love. REM’s Automatic for the People. Nirvana’s In Utero. Radiohead’s Kid A. All those records rejected a formula that had reaped considerable commercial reward just a few years before, a formula that made all those artists household names. All those records were welcomed by a collective WTF, only to embraced as classics, some sooner than later.

The Hip didn’t necessarily know what they wanted, but they knew what they didn’t: a repeat of the Fully Completely experience. Downie had described the London studio where it was made as a “fairly sterile environment,” and that they “were lucky enough to pull a record out of it that we liked and had some sense of atmosphere. We vowed never to do that again.” They knew who they wanted to help them shake up their sound. The choice was obvious: Daniel Lanois, with whom they’d toured on the 1993 Another Roadside Attraction tour. His first two solo albums, Acadie and For the Beauty of Wynona, were Hip favourites. And, obviously, he’d made three of the biggest international records of the last 10 years: Peter Gabriel’s So and U2’s The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. Not to mention Robbie Robertson’s solo album, the Neville Brothers’ Yellow Moon, Bob Dylan’s Oh Mercy, and a slew of great Canadian new wave records in the early ’80s (Martha and the Muffins, Parachute Club, Luba), as well as his work with Brian Eno on ambient music. The biggest new rock band in Canada working with the country’s most internationally acclaimed producer: it seemed like a perfect fit.

Except that Lanois turned them down. But the Hip were also friendly with Lanois’s right-hand man, engineer Mark Howard, who was responsible for helping Lanois translate his ideas to tape, and also assisted in setting up studios in wonderfully weird parts of North America. It was Howard who, during the first Another Roadside Attraction, recorded the “Land” single in Calgary, featuring Midnight Oil, Crash Vegas, Lanois and the Hip. Watching him work was a revelation after Fully Completely, which Howard says, “was just a common way of making records. They hated it so much. When they saw how I made that song with them on the road, it opened their eyes to thinking, ‘Wow, we could make a whole record like this.’ ”

The Hip decided to go back to New Orleans and hire Howard as co-producer. After years under Lanois’s wing, this was his first production credit for a major client. Lanois wasn’t around; he and Howard had just finished setting up shop in a Mexican mountain cave. “The walls were all natural rock and there was a grass roof over it and it looked over the Sea of Cortez,” says Howard. After making that new studio functional, Howard flew back to New Orleans and started work on what would be Day For Night.

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Depression the Comedy

Depression the Comedy

A Tale of Perseverance
edition:Paperback
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Voice in the Wild

Voice in the Wild

A Memoir
edition:Paperback
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Punching and Kicking

Punching and Kicking

Leaving Canada's Toughest Neighbourhood
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Homes

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A Refugee Story
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The Bird List

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New Non-Fiction for the week of April 30th : New Nature Books
Listening to the Bees

Listening to the Bees

edition:Hardcover
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Where Rivers Meet

Where Rivers Meet

Photographs and Stories from the Bow Valley and Kananaskis Country
edition:Hardcover
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Grizzlies, Gales and Giant Salmon

Grizzlies, Gales and Giant Salmon

Life at a Rivers Inlet Fishing Lodge
edition:Paperback
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The Hard Work of Hope

The Hard Work of Hope

Climate Change in the Age of Trump
edition:eBook
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In Defence of Home Places

In Defence of Home Places

Environmental Activism in Nova Scotia
edition:Paperback
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Essential Fish Biology

Essential Fish Biology

Diversity, structure, and function
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At Home in Nature

At Home in Nature

A Life of Unknown Mountains and Deep Wilderness
edition:eBook
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Breaching the Peace

Breaching the Peace

The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand against Big Hydro
by Sarah Cox
foreword by Alex Neve
edition:eBook
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Birdmania

Birdmania

A Remarkable Passion for Birds
by Bernd Brunner
translated by Jane Billinghurst
foreword by Pete Dunne
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