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PERISH THE DAY
by John Farrow
Minotaur, May 2017
304 pages
$25.99
ISBN: 1250057701


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In this, the final volume of the Storm Trilogy, retired Montreal police detective Emile Cinq-Mars and his wife Sandra find themselves in New Hampshire and eastern Vermont, in part to witness the graduation of their niece Caroline from the acclaimed Dowbiggen School of International Studies and in part to be there for Sandra's eighty-nine-year old mother, who is near death. Not entirely a pleasure trip, then, but it's about to turn a lot worse.

Caroline is part of a small group of close friends who are also graduating from Dowbiggen. But one of them, Addie Langford, has gone missing. Vernon Colchester is also a student at Dowbiggen, and an ex-boyfriend of Addie's. When he heads for the library he learns that a campus security officer has discovered a body there, and texts Addie's friends alerting them to the discovery.

Caroline prevails upon her uncle to see whether it's her friend. And the local police chief, Alex Till, allows Cinq-Mars to view the body. He confirms it is Addie, and she's been strangled, her body arranged in some sort of macabre deathly tableau, and features a distinct, and to Cinq-Mars' eyes, expensive necklace around her throat. Cinq-Mars offers his services, but the investigation has been taken over by an officious State Trooper named Hammond, and he sidelines the both of them.

Meanwhile at Dowbiggen, Philip Lars Toomey is on what most people would consider a most unusual journey. But not for Toomey, an ex-spy who has carved out a convincing cover as a tweedy professor there, the better to conceal his clandestine activities. After meticulous efforts to avoid being followed, Toomey makes his way to a wooded hiking trail and reaches into the trunk of a tree first to deposit a note, then to retrieve a another, cryptic in its simplicity. It says Breached. Run! Determined not to be spooked, he makes his way to his lover's house, where he discovers her lifeless body. She's been shot through the head. Hearing someone approaching, he hastily removes a necklace from her neck and leaves the scene. This time, all subterfuge abandoned, he runs. But it will be in vain.

PERISH THE DAY caps Montreal author John Farrow's Storm Series of novels, preceded by THE STORM MURDERS and SEVEN DAYS DEAD. Each is a distinctly different tale, the common denominator being the engaging characters of Emile Cinq-Mars and his wife Sandra. In this, the strongest of the three, readers will find less attention devoted to Sandra, though the poignancy of her mother's death comes through clearly. Instead, the novel focuses on the nuanced world of an ex-spy, contrasted with the rigid thinking and clumsy actions of a State Police investigator determined to exclude the involvement of what he sees as meddling amateurs. A cat-and-mouse plot on several levels, the story is enhanced by the use of multiple viewpoints, including that of the killer, whose identity is kept from readers until the conclusion. The whole makes for a compelling and layered tale that will appeal to a wide range of readers.

Since 2005 Jim Napier's reviews and interviews have appeared in several Canadian newspapers and on various crime fiction and literary websites, including his own award-winning site, Deadly Diversions. His own crime novel, LEGACY, was published in the Spring of 2017. He can be reached at jnapier@deadlydiversions.com

Reviewed by Jim Napier, July 2017

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