Tag Archives: Missing persons

Pull Focus by Helen Walsh

“Yet the show must go on”, Jane Browning has been pole-vaulted from artistic director of the Worldwide Toronto Film Festival (WTFF) to acting CEO after her boss Paul DelGrotto has been removed for sexual harassment. Pull focus is defined as a filming technique used in film and television whereby the focal point is drawn towards the viewer. Walsh’s use of description will pull the readers into the story which is told over ten days.

Jane’s partner Bob goes missing and needs to find out if he’s in danger. Jane is also dealing with the politics of running WTFF, the Hollywood power brokers, Russian oil billionaires, Chinese propagandists, and members of the festival board.

“Walsh should get this story onto a script so more people can experience this thrill ride.”

Pull Focus is a sexually driven thriller and gets steamer with every turn of the page. Starting off on day one with a dick pic featured on the gossip TV show TMZ. Hashtags and rants trending on Twitter, apologetic emails, and an overcrowded party filled with A-list celebrities, media scum and the police. All wanting to know more!

With this unique Torontonian storyline, you really need to pay attention to all the characters as I found myself reading over some pages for the second time. This book reads like watching a movie, in which you don’t want to miss any character or storyline as the days unfold.

If you’re a fan of Film Festivals this book is definitely a must-read. Walsh’s description of behind the screens and the inner workings of a film festival is very interesting and in-depth. You can tell Walsh has a background working within the film industry. Being a movie buff myself I think Walsh should get this story onto a script so more people can experience this thrill ride.

“Part Real Housewives, part grown-up Nancy DrewPull Focus gleefully skewers all players in the international film scene while deftly unspooling a good old-fashioned thriller. Walsh creates a world of glamourous parties, dirty money, and weaponized sex.”

― Missy Marston, author of Bad Ideas


Helen Walsh is the founder and president of Diaspora Dialogues, Canada’s premier literary mentoring organization. Formerly the publisher of the Literary Review of Canada and a founding director of Spur, a national festival of politics, arts, and ideas, Walsh spent five years working as a film/digital media producer in L.A. and New York. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ ECW Press (Sept. 7 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1770415793
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1770415799

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Operation Vanished by Helen C. Escott

Helen C. Escott’s Operation Vanished follows closely on the heels of her bestselling Atlantic Canadian thriller Operation Wormwood (2018, Flanker Press). While that book dealt with an investigation by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, Operation Vanished has the RCMP investigating some unsolved abductions and murders of women back in the 1950s. Heading up the investigative team is RCMP Corporal Gail McNaughton, whose own father is a retired career Mountie. Her Staff Sergeant, Boyd Michaels assigns her a stack of files of missing and murdered persons whose files remain open since they are unsolved.

Staff Sergeant Michaels continued. “You’ll spend your first three months digging into these cases. I’ll warn you, don’t get too discouraged if you don’t get anywhere.”

“Really?” McNaughton picked up the first file. “Why is that?”

“You’re dealing with historical crimes.” Michaels leaned forward and took the next file off the pile. “Like we discussed last week before you went to see Mary Ryan, witnesses have passed away, memories fade, there are false confessions from nuts who want to be famous, psychics who convince the families they know where the body is.” He laid the folder back on the pile. “There was no such thing as DNA or even protecting the scene’s integrity back then. There’s some evidence collected from a few files, like clothing, or bodily fluid samples, but even with today’s science, results are very limited.”

“These are going to be challenging.” McNaughton looked at a black and white photo inside the file folder.

“Every tip has to be thoroughly investigated,” he continued “It causes a substantial amount of work, but as you know, we don’t close a file until we solve the case. I believe each new investigator brings new skills and a new set of eyes. Maybe you’ll close a few of these files.” He shrugged.

Undeterred, and loving a good mystery, Gail delves into her work. First, there is a missing child file that she investigates, then files of three women who were abducted sexually abused and murdered, all in different parts of the province. Another storyline involves that of Gail’s mother, who is in a senior’s care home due to her increasing dementia. The theme of memories and remembering is strong throughout Operation Vanished. McNaughton presses on despite her own insecurities, particularly when visited by the “Old Hag” a witch who brings nightmares along with her. One thing McNaughton is not insecure about is her hard-earned qualifications and her stand against “the old boy’s” network which is a constant fight for any visible minority in the RCMP (or any policing organization). She goes toe-to-toe with the second-in-command, Sergeant Wayne Harvey, on the issue of women in the force. This makes for added tension in her hectic work/life situation. Operation Wormwood is less of a so-called “cozy mystery” than Operation Wormwood. There is some coarse language, but no graphic violence, despite the subject matter.

One would like to see more of her characters such as RCMP Corporal Gail McNaughton, and her archivist/contact at The Rooms, Larry Morgan. With an enthusiastic archivist at her disposal, Gail (as well as the reader) are educated on various aspects of Newfoundland’s fascinating history. As they themselves admit, they make a great team! Ms. Escott’s experience as a retired civilian of the RCMP has made her privy to many aspects of life in an RCMP detachment and both books definitely profited from this. Operation Vanished is a must-read Newfoundland mystery-thriller!

Operation Vanished by Helen C. Escott
Flanker Press

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This article has been Digiproved © 2019 James FisherSome Rights Reserved