The Forbidden Dreams of Betsy Elliot by Carolyn R. Parsons

The Forbidden Dreams of Betsy Elliot is Carolyn R. Parson’s debut novel for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Flanker Press, and she joins such authors as Ida Linehan Young and Gary Collins as storytellers of the first rank. It is set in 1933-34 in the outport community of Elliot’s Cove just after the Commission of Government took over control of Newfoundland’s governing at the start of the Great Depression.…

Blindshot by Denis Coupal

On the cover of Blindshot is the silhouette of a crow, which is significant for, near the beginning of the story, a crow flies into the massive window of Valhalla, the country estate of Paul and Catherine Carignan, located in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. This can be taken as a bad omen, and Catherine quickly finds the injured bird and places it near the woodpile for it to either fly away if better, or die in peace.…

The Promise by Ida Linehan Young

Newfoundland’s Flanker Press has been publishing books by some of that province’s best storytellers and Ida Linehan Young must be added to that esteemed company with the release of her latest book, The Promise. It is a follow-up of sorts (but not a sequel) to Being Mary Ro, her best-selling debut novel. Mary Ro is back, but in the supporting cast as young Erith Lock takes centre stage as the protagonist of this story. …

Side by Side by Anita Kushwaha

According to the Government of Canada website, every day, an average of more than 10 Canadians dies by suicide. For every person lost to suicide, many more experience thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts. For every death by suicide, at least 7 to 10 survivors are significantly affected by the loss. For Kavita Gupta, the protagonist of Anita Kushwaha’s award-winning novel Side by Side, it is the loss of her brother Sunil that has affected her and her parents.…

Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale by Ann Shortell

A fine example of Canadian historical fiction, Ann Shortell’s Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale (2018, Friesen Press) is constructed around the actual assassination of D’Arcy McGee, one of the fathers of confederation, on April 7th, 1868 as he was returning from Parliament to Mrs. Trotter’s boarding house. The assailant was never seen, but Patrick J. Whelan (“Jimmy”) was later arrested, convicted and hanged as the culprit.…

Random Act (A Jack McMorrow Mystery) by Gerry Boyle

Random Act is #12 in the Jack McMorrow Mystery Series penned by Gerry Boyle and published by Maine’s Islandport Press. As soon as I received this Advance Reading Copy in the mail, I eagerly started to read it, for having read most of the series, I am an unabashed fan. Number twelve does not disappoint. I read it in a few hours, only interrupted by the need to sleep.…

Quill of the Dove by Ian Thomas Shaw

I am going to preface this review by mentioning that political thrillers are not one of my favourite fiction genres. Back in the days of the Cold War, it was easy to keep track of the adversaries. The Middle East? That’s another kettle of fish, as the saying goes. I’ve never truly understood it all, and after reading Ian Thomas Shaw’s Quill of the Dove (2019, MiroLand, an imprint of Guernica Editions), I’m afraid I’m no further ahead, although Mr.…

The Carpenter From Montreal by George Fetherling

I love noir fiction (and film), so I was eager to read this book of criminal men with power, some in control, some out of control in the Prohibition Era of 1920-1933. On the back cover of The Carpenter from Montreal (2017, Linda Leith Publishing) it states to any curious reader that may pick up this novel: “In this cinematic and genre-bending novel, George Fetherling both honours the roots of serious noir fiction while also pushing its boundaries.”…

Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits

Note: this review is based on an Advance Reading Copy supplied by the author in return for a fair review.

Perennial author Lisa de Nikolits is back in 2018 after publishing No Fury Like That in 2017 and The Nearly Girl in 2016. While Rotten Peaches is a slight departure from those two well-known books, the four main characters in Rotten Peaches are cut from the same vile cloth as No Fury’s Julia Redner and her boss/squeeze Junior.…

Arrow’s Flight by Joel Scott

Joseph Conrad’s autobiographical short story Youth, we are introduced to Marlowe, who upon initially sighting the ship he is to join in his first commision wistfully states:

“There was a touch of romance in it, something that made me love the old thing – something that appealed to my youth!”

Similarly, when Arrow’s Flight protagonist Jared Kane sights the wooden ketch Arrow for the first time:

“She was laying into the sunset and seemed to float in a coppery sea of light, her tall amber masts suspended above her.…

Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons by Jocelyn Cullity

There are certain books – not many- that I pick up to read and soon put down, not because I don’t fancy them, but I simply didn’t feel it was the right time (for either the book or me) to read it. Such was the case with Jocelyn Cullity’s Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons (2017, Inanna Publications). At the time I was not ready to read a book with exotic names and a locale I was not familiar with.…

Most Anything You Please by Trudy J. Morgan-Cole

Most Anything You Please (2017, Breakwater Books) is the first book I have read by Ms. Morgan-Cole and it is a solid saga of the Holloway family through several decades. The author was born in, and still lives in the Rabbittown neighbourhood of St. John’s:

“Over the years, I’ve discussed with many friends the fact that, when we were growing up in the 1970s, there was a family-owned convenience store on every corner, most of which have since disappeared.

Wall of War cover

Wall of War (A Drake Alexander Adventure) by Allan Hudson

Wall of War is New Brunswick author Allan Hudson’s follow-up to Dark Side of a Promise and is the second book in the Drake Alexander Series. I read Dark Side of a Promise, a copy of which was kindly provided by Mr. Hudson approximately one year ago, in December 2016.

While action-adventure novels are not typically my genre of choice, I nevertheless found it a ‘good read’ stating (at Goodreads):

“If you like action, adventure in various locales and don’t mind f-bombs, violence, sexual abuse and other disquieting themes then Dark Side of a Promise will appeal to you.”

Resort by Andrew Daley

Daley is a novelist and screenwriter. He was raised in Orangeville, Ontario, and moved to Toronto to attend university. Aside from a year in England, he’s lived there ever since. He’s done a variety of jobs and seems to have settled in the film business. His two novels, Tell Your Sister (2007) and Resort (2017), are both published by Tightrope Books.

Death at the Harbourview Cafe by Fred Humber

Three deaths: one, a popular Chinese businessman, the second his adopted son, and the third a rookie RCMP constable in a popular cafe and store in the unassuming town of Botwood Newfoundland. If that doesn’t have the makings of a good mystery-thriller, then I don’t know what does. But this isn’t fiction, it’s a true crime story that occurred in 1958, and it remained untold for many years, but lay dormant in the collective memory of the town and any eyewitnesses that happened to be in Botwood that fateful November day.…