When The Dead Are Razed by Samuel Martin

Feisty hipster Teffy Byrne is not one to take a back seat to anyone. Part owner of an independent newspaper and always on the lookout for a story, Teffy is about to become involved in a sinister plot in an attempt to protect her boyfriend Ger from his former drug boss, Troy Hopper. Teffy will stop at nothing even if it means becoming a drug mule for the newly released convict; a transaction that quickly gets out of hand when Teffy finds herself stranded on a remote Newfoundland island with a pound of Troy’s heroin hidden inside a dead woman’s urn. On top of all this, the stolen coded journal in her possession that once belonged to Ger’s old flame from his former life contains information that could blow everything wide open, exposing sensitive information about the illicit drug and sex trade that exists within the nooks and crannies of the island province of Newfoundland. When The Dead Are Razed by Samuel Martin is a harrowing North Atlantic noir that explores the dark underworld of ordinary people living a not-so-ordinary life.

She dives into the rain and finds her way to Ellie Strickland's gallery. Pushes the door open easily - no alarm, thank God - and digs the gum wrapper out of the striker plate and pockets it. The door clicks shut behind her and she heads up the stairs to the gallery, avoiding the clank and grind of the rickety lift. She steps into the gallery, the only sounds her ragged breath and rain slashed against glass. Shadows blue the fishbowl room, cast from the faint glow of unseen harbour lights out the rain-pelted windows. The whale's tail seems to flick in the strange light and the whole room tilts nauseously toward her, making the humpback look as if it's diving deep from outside the storm, its maw wide to swallow her whole.

Just pick up the package, she tells herself, gulping against the sudden urge to vomit. Call the cops on the way back across the island. Say Troy blackmailed you into playing delivery girl and abducted your boyfriend to force you.

Yeah right, she thinks.

When The Dead Are Razed is Samuel Martin’s third novel, following This Ramshackle Tabernacle (2010) and A Blessed Snarl (2012). Hailing from the mainland province of Ontario, Martin moved to the east coast in 2008 to begin studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. It was during this time that he fell in love with his new island home and embarked upon this latest novel as “a love letter to a place” he terribly missed before leaving to teach in Iowa in 2012. Readers will be mesmerized by multiple plotlines and will be propelled mercilessly through the harrowing and sometimes jarring details of Martin’s vivid and unrelenting prose. A suspenseful read, I occasionally got lost in the fast-paced action of the many ordinary characters and the things that happened to them. Martin’s crime thriller does an excellent job at highlighting the many complex reasons for the crimes these regular people commit. In this narrative, love is the bright light that eventually triumphs over evil, but at what cost? The formidable protagonist Teffy Byrne’s strong desire to protect Ger from harm and avenge the death of his ex-girlfriend is what propels the narrative. Readers will find themselves immersed in Teffy’s world of poor decision-making and at times, utter mayhem, shaking their heads but wanting more.

She jolts awake yelling and whips the covers against the wall. A second ago, Jake had been riding her like an old hag, prying down on that scraper's bar. Choking her.

Spitting in her face.

Then the sleep paralysis broke. And now it's just her in the room. Christ on the wall there, holding out his Sacred Heart. The house quiet but for the wind knocking the window frames. That breath on her face. Ger's breath. She listens. A roundabout wind by the sounds of it. How did Fin say it? Anything can happen in a roundabout wind.

Out the toilet-side window, she sees Ellie's car in the drive still and Daryll's goats grazing freely beside the house. Still not a sound. So she zips up and thinks it's now or never to make that switch and call Troy. Find out where she can drop this shit, then get a hold of Ger.

When The Dead Are Razed by Samuel Martin is an explosive, well-written novel. Readers will tread lightly with one eye covered as they are thrust into the violent underbelly of the criminal side of Canada’s friendliest province. This novel is published by Slant Books.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Slant (Sept. 1 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 258 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 172525896X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1725258969

Stephanie Collins is a retired school administrator and teacher from Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. A lover of literature and an avid reader, Stephanie loves travelling, outdoor activities, and riding shotgun in her RV or on the back of a motorcycle. Stephanie enjoys writing about her travels, reviewing new titles, and is an aspiring children’s book writer. Her reviews can be found at Fireside Collections and you can follow her on Twitter @MrsCollinsNL.