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by Philipp Schott, DVM
ECW PRESS, April 2022
258 pages
ISBN: 1770416145

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Vet Peter Bannerman is on his way to a farm call when he sees smoke coming from his friend Tom Pearson's swine barn, and then there is an explosion. There is a non-porcine body inside that barn; who is it and where is Tom are two of the questions Peter wants answered, even if he has to find those answers himself.

Tom Pearson is a small-scale hog farmer in rural Manitoba. His friend, veterinary Peter Bannerman, is on his way someplace else when Tom's barn explodes. Peter calls 911 and then mourns the lives of the fifty-four pigs killed. He's that kind of a guy. He also believes that logic and measurable facts can and do play a part in solving most, if not all, problems. When a human body is found in with the pigs, and it turns out not to be Tom Pearson, he decides to do his level best to clear Tom of the murder it is murder and Tom is the obvious and missing suspect. Peter's brother-in-law Kevin is an RCMP officer, which is both a help and a hindrance for both of them. Some other strange things have been going on in and around New Selfoss. There have been some seemingly random break-ins, and the strange part is that the only consistent element in those break-ins is that frozen meat in the freezers is taken. Even Peter's house is hit, which makes his wife Laura and Peter both a tad nervous. Then a local, Elton Marwick, is killed in his own kitchen. Is it connected to the pig slaughter and the previous murder? Or does it have something to do with his shed being broken into a few weeks ago? Kevin hadn't wanted to investigate and when Peter took a look at it, he didn't see anything significant.

Dr. Schott writes a pretty good, laid-back mystery novel. His characters suit the story and the setting very well. Peter takes his time and ponders all sorts of things during the course of the story; some are relevant and some not, which is to be expected. His relationship with his wife is a delight to observe; there is obviously a lot of love and understanding between the two. Manitoba in mid-winter (January and February) is definitely cold and snowy; Peter is used to it and copes well with the usual hassles involved in northern climes. His friendship with Tom gives him insights into possibilities that the RCMP can't or won't consider; Peter's belief that Tom is not a killer sustains him in the face of patent disbelief from others. Schott has written other books, none of them mysteries. It would be a shame if this were a one-off. Peter Bannerman is a character that will bear revisiting.

P.J Coldren: I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, February 2022

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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