Remote Access by Barry Finlay

A political thriller penned in “cozy” mode (no profanity, no sex scenes) by retired Government of Canada employee (and award-winning author) Barry Finlay is actually #3 in the Marcie Kane series of thrillers. While I have not read the previous two installments, I found that not knowing her backstory in no way hampered my enjoyment of this book. The action begins almost immediately and the implications are profound: Annie Logan, the wife of the President’s Cheif of Staff has been hacked by a professional hired by a Chinese businessman and a government official (unbeknownst to each other) to help defeat a Presidental order to put in force steep tariffs on imported Chinese goods.… Continue reading

Sea Change: A Man, A Boat, A Journey Home by Maxwell Taylor Kennedy

I am a landlubber, but I love all things maritime whether it is naval ships, submarines, or the days of wood and sail. It started with Joseph Conrad’s sea stories and carried on through those of James Fenimore Cooper and C.S. Forster. Then there were the classic true-life sailing experiences of Richard Dana Jr. in Two Years Before the Mast and Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World through which I lived a vicarious life on the sea.… Continue reading

Watermark by Jennifer Farquhar

When I was a young lad, my parents owned a cottage that fronted on a small lake in South Eastern Ontario. While I swam in the water by day, I never ventured near the shore at night. That was when all kinds of things came forth out of the depths to languish on the shore – or so my young mind reasoned. In Jennifer Farquar’s Watermark (2018, Latitude 46 Publishing) Mina McInnis and her brother David actually sneak out of their house at night to swim in the cold waters of Lake Huron!… Continue reading

Through Sunlight and Shadows by Raymond Fraser

Sadly, Through Sunlight and Shadows would prove to be Raymond Fraser’s swan song, as he passed away just a few short months after its publication. It is his fourteenth book of fiction and is an all-new volume of “memoirs” of his fictional/semi-autobiographical character, Walt Macbride. While regular readers of Mr. Fraser’s will be familiar with Walt in all his manifestations, his youngest days growing up in Bannonbridge (an alias for Chatham, NB) are lesser-known.… Continue reading

The Land’s Long Reach by Valerie Mills-Milde

This is the book that I was awaiting from Valerie Mills-Milde. I had to patiently wait two years from the time that her exceptional debut novel After Drowning (2016, Inanna Publications) was released. That book won a 2017 IPPY Silver Medal for Contemporary Fiction. Of After Drowning, I stated: “After Drowning is an intriguing, well-paced and mysteriously captivating story of everyday lives impacted by tragic events and the collateral damage they inflict as well as the long road back to recovery and reconciliation.” In a sense, The Land’s Long Reach is also a captivating story of lives impacted by tragic events (WWI, domestic violence) and the collateral damage inflicted (mental, medical and psychological stress, strained family relationships) on each and every character. … Continue reading

The Light a Body Radiates by Ethel Whitty

At fifty-eight pages into The Light a Body Radiates by Ethel Whitty (2018, Caitlin Press), Eileen Macpherson’s grandmother tells her:

“If you’re a storyteller, it’s your job to make it a story that wants to be told. Where we come from, the one who always keeps the stories is the granddaughter.” Then she murmured, “You can be that granddaughter to me.” In response to the confusion she read on my face, she continued in a less conspiratorial tone, “Don’t worry, they’ll be good stories.”

The Light a Body Radiates comprises a good story in its 280+ pages.… Continue reading

New 2018 Fiction from Goose Lane Editions

are a couple of mini-reviews of two recent fiction titles New Brunswick’s Goose Lane Editions, Marry Bang Kill by Andrew Battershill and Catch my Drift by Genevieve Scott.

Marry Bang Kill by Andrew Battershill

The title of this book comes from a popular question: when presented with three things (typically celebrities) who would you: (need I say more?). While this question is only posed once in the book, the title is a sure attention getter, and the writing between the covers, while perhaps not to everyone’s taste is excellent.… Continue reading

Songs for the Cold of Heart by Eric Dupont (translated by Peter McCambridge)

Note to readers: In lieu of the regular review that I would normally post, I am instead publishing a letter* I received from a reader regarding Songs for the Cold of Heart (2018, QC Fiction). I found it fairly sums up my thoughts on the book, and I reprint it here with the sender’s permission.

Dear Mr. Fisher,

May I call you James? I am one of the 12 subscribers to your blog (I do hope you get more soon, people don’t know what they are missing) and I wanted to not only thank you for alerting your few readers to the fact that the east coast of Canada has many fine writers, but la belle province has a number of them as well.… Continue reading