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BLACKFLIES ARE MURDER
by Lou Allin
Rendezvous Crime, March 2002
288 pages
$10.95
ISBN: 092914192X


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The long winter is over and Belle Palmer, the amateur-sleuth-cum-real-estate-agent who first appeared in Northern Winters Are Murder has emerged from her home near Sudbury, Ontario to show some property and swat the blackflies that make northern summers less than idyllic. As the snows recede, some oddities begin to show up. There is evidence that bear poachers are at work, killing bears for their prized paws and gall bladders. Belle's elderly but feisty neighbour, Anni, is convinced she knows who the culprits are and swears to bring them to justice. Some weeks later, Belle finds Anni freshly dead and with a head wound. Has she provoked the poachers beyond endurance or is there some other reason stemming from her past that might account for the attack? And where did that expensive van in her yard come from?

Belle cannot focus all her attention on this problem„her elderly father continues to deteriorate in his nursing home and this is prime real estate season. One of her clients is a man from Ottawa looking for a quiet retreat in which to spend his retirement; he settles on a house near Belle's and promises to turn out to be a cultivated addition to the neighbourhood. Unfortunately, he too turns up dead in his sauna and questions immediately arise. Did he die of natural causes or is he too the victim of murder? If so, are the two deaths related? What could conceivably connect Anni, the elderly widow from Manitoba with this courtly man from Ottawa?

If you are looking for a cosy with major Canadian content, you can't go wrong with Belle. She is delighted to discuss all things Canadian, from the health care system to Tim Hortons (without the apostrophe), to the national flag. When she is not remarking on the residential school scandals or Paul Bernardo, she draws upon an encyclopedic knowledge of old films to illustrate her thoughts. She's an attractive, if a bit unpolished a character. She even provides a recipe for zucchini cake. The mystery here is not too puzzling; it is the local colour that is of primary interest. Allin is, however, shortly to run into trouble if she continues the series. The number of corpses is beginning to mount alarmingly in an area as unpopulated as the rural North. And two more books and she runs out of seasons. Actually, she may be there already. You know what they say about the North: nine months of winter and three months of poor sledding.

Reviewed by Yvonne Klein, August 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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