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Brenda Chapman

Sixty seconds with Brenda Chapman...

Brenda Chapman began her writing career in children's fiction. Her first adult mystery, IN WINTER'S GRIP, was published in 2010. She is the author of the Stonechild and Rouleau mystery series. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Chapman: I'm creative, competitive, sometimes impatient, family-oriented, loyal and optimistic, enjoying a good laugh whenever one is to be had.

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Chapman: To keep my spirits up and creative juices flowing, I'd take Paul Simon's Graceland.

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Chapman: My first ambition was to be a waitress in a truck stop on Highway 17.

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March 7, 2015

It seems to be retrospective week here at RTE. Quite a few of the books we are looking at have their eyes firmly fixed on the past and on how long-gone events continue to cast their shadows in the present.

Consider, for example, Olen Steinhauer's ALL THE OLD KNIVES, which Christine Zibas liked very much. Most of it takes place in the present in Carmel, but flashes back to the past lives of the two spies who meet over dinner. An ex-CIA agent and his Swedish daughter are at the centre of Joakim Zander's debut thriller THE SWIMMER, with particular emphasis on earlier events that are playing out in the present. Christine Zibas says that it is both well written and well translated.Then there's 12 ROSE STREET, by Gail Bowen, in which the most significant event took place fifteen years before the present action. I thought this was the best in the series for some time.

Impaired memory of past events is at work in Tami Hoag's COLD COLD HEART. Here the victim of a serial killer has to struggle with a dodgy memory if she is to discover who attacked her and perhaps solve the mystery of her highschool friend's disappearance years ago. A mother in Jessica Treadway's LACY EYE struggles to regain memory of the night she was attacked and her husband murdered in order to clear her daughter of suspicion. Sharon Mensing calls it "complex and nuanced," and the author one to watch. A troubled judge suffering from early Alzheimer's is worried about a death penalty conviction in NIGHT IS THE HUNTER, by Steven Core and asks an ex-homicide detective to try to determine if justice was done. While Phyllis Onstad had some reservations about the book, she concludes that it raises important and serious issues.

In Brenda Chapman's BUTTERFLY KILLS, the second in her Ontario-set Stonechild and Rouleau series, the pair investigate a very current series of crimes, but both main characters are still working out past personal problems. Family is an issue here and I was struck with the dexterity with which Chapman handles a complicated set of plot lines. Family concerns are also a consideration in Michael Sears' financial thriller LONG WAY DOWN. Christine Zibas says Sears brings both style and substance to this particular sub-genre. And two branches of an extended family, the Mexican and the Texas Wolfes, have to combine forces to rescue one of their own across the border. Meredith Frazier enjoyed this thriller. In THE CITY OF BLOOD, by Frédéric Molay, when an art project is disinterred after its burial thirty years before, the body of the artist's son is found as well. Sharon Mensing was less than impressed.

You need only say Irish crime fiction to know that memory will play a large role in the plot. So it is with Adrian McKinty's GUN STREET GIRL, which appears to be the fourth in his "Troubles" trilogy. Karen Chisholm is delighted with McKinty's math and hopes the trilogy can be stretched even further. GUN STREET GIRL is set in the 1980s and Stuart Neville's THE FINAL SILENCE in the present day, but it reaches back for decades. Jim Napier says it is one of the strongest novels he has read in a very long time.

Considering the current fear of terror being encouraged, at least here in Canada, one might wonder at the prospects for a light-hearted account of a terrorism threat, but Steven Axelrod manages just that in NANTUCKET FIVE-SPOT where the DHS is taking what might be a highschool prank very seriously. Diana Borse enjoyed it, saying that while it was not too demanding, it was complex in structure and full of surprises.

In an issue full of books that look back to the immediate past, we have only one that is a genuine historical novel. THINGS HALF IN SHADOW, by Alan Finn is set just after the American Civil War and deals with spiritualists who prey on the families of the war dead. Ben Neal says it is both an exciting historical thriller and a strong character-driven work.

Finally, Anne Corey deserts her favourite international thrillers this week to report on Celeste Conway's UNLOVELY, which she calls a chilling young adult thriller.

Our guest in the "Sixty Seconds With..." corner this week is Brenda Chapman. Do drop by and see what she has to say in answer to our questions.

If you want to read more about what's happening in British crime, take a look at CRIMEREVIEW where our former colleagues can help you out.

If you're almost anywhere in North America tonight, you'll be setting your clocks ahead an hour. It may not look like Spring quite yet, at least not in my backyard, but at least I'll have an extra hour of daylight in which to contemplate the snow.

Back again in a couple of weeks. Do come back and join us.



P.S. If you wish to submit a book for review, please check here before contacting us. Please note that we do not review self-published books.

Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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