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LUNENBURG
by Keith Baker
Harper Collins, March 2001
345 pages
$24.95 CDN
ISBN: 1552782115


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Halifax, Nova Scotia police officer Annie Welles has paid a hefty price for the job she loves. Her husband left her for another, less independent woman, and in the divorce she lost custody of her twin sons. Worse yet, she's in trouble in the department, ever since her former partner made a pass at her that she rejected. He now believes that it is her fault that they have been assigned to different partners and is conspiring with her superior to get her fired. John Taggart, a Scottish journalist on the Royal watch beat, has much the same problem. Having rejected the play his female boss made for him, he finds himself in Halifax unexpectedly without a job. Taggart has long been troubled by the fact that he does not know the identity of his father, but until he learns about them from Annie, he has been unaware of his deep roots in Nova Scotia. Now he joins forces with the policewoman to find his father, a convicted murderer, discover what, if any, connection he has to the series of murders that has boosted Halifax's homicide rate beyond expectation, and perhaps clear his name.

This is an odd sort of book in a number of ways. It is billed as a thriller and the opening pages lead us to believe that the plot will involve a terrorist conspiracy at the very least. But this issue gets dropped very quickly in favour of what turns out to be a straight detective story. It's not a bad one; just not what seemed to be on offer. The author is a former head of News and Current Affairs for the BBC in Northern Ireland and his prose style is a bit staccato, perhaps as a result of his journalistic training. His biography does not reveal what his connection to Nova Scotia may be, but he gives evidence of a considerable fondness for this Canadian Maritime province. It is this affection that sets this novel apart; there aren't all that many crime novels set in Halifax, let alone Lunenburg, that I know of and this is an entertaining one. It also made me quite nostalgic for the briny smell and the amazing Maritime light.

This review refers to the Canadian edition, which appears to be identical to the original British one.

Reviewed by Yvonne Klein, October 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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