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Review: William Deverell’s Whipped, Rene Denfeld’s The Child Finder and Iona Whishaw’s An Old, Cold Grave

Whipped

By William Deverell

ECW, 392 pages, $28.95

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Sex, scandal, politics and a sinister New Age guru with the larcenous heart. Yes, we are in the world of Arthur Beauchamp, scion of an old British Columbia family, retired lawyer, raconteur and general gentleman. And, as always, he's a joy. This time out, Beauchamp's client is his own wife, Margaret Blake, Leader of the federal Green Party. Margaret is being sued by an MP for leaking a hot little video of him being seriously spanked by a Montreal dominatrix. There's also a fatwa from the Montreal Mafia. Beauchamp was planning on spending his Golden Years in a hammock on Garibaldi Island but here he is, back planning a defence and wondering if Margaret is really spending all that time working. Or is there someone else? Then there's the guru. Fans love Deverell for his wit and Beauchamp's sane Canadian take on the madness of modern life and this one delivers the goods.

The Child Finder

By Rene Denfeld

Harper, 272 pages, $31.99

I love to discover new authors and, though Rene Denfeld has been around for a while, this is the first novel I've read by her. It's stunning. From the first page, when we meet Naomi, the child finder, and learn of the loss of Madison Culver, who went into the Oregon woods to cut a Christmas tree with her parents and disappeared, we are in a strange, forbidding territory. Madison has been missing for three years. The parents have consulted everyone, including a psychic. They simply cannot believe their child is gone, and probably dead. Even if she's not dead "she won't come back the same," Naomi tells Madison's mother. "You have to know that." From that beginning, we go on the journey of discovery with Naomi as she opens the "portals" that will give her clues to what happened the day Madison disappeared into thin air. As she follows those clues we learn more about Naomi herself, who was once another lost girl. Dead or alive, she plans to learn of Madison's fate for her desperate parents. Once I started reading, I couldn't put this book down.

An Old, Cold Grave

By Iona Whishaw

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TouchWood Editions, 329 pages, $16.95

Lane Winslow, the intrepid sleuth of King's Cove, is back in her third adventure and, like the first two, it's a charmer. Once again, British Columbia's own Iona Whishaw's delightful modern gloss on the venerable British cozy provides a perfect weekend getaway. Fans know that Winslow (a character based on the author's mother, who was a real British spy) has a history with military intelligence. The new book begins two years after the end of the Second World War, although the war of rationing and saving is still holding on, and so the Hughes sisters are preserving and potting and storing it all in the root cellar. When a nasty odour signals potential ptomaine, sister Gwen heads down for a cleanup. What she finds is far more than spoiled carrots and runner beans. There's a dead body in the cellar, and it appears to be that of a child. Enter Winslow and her on-again-off-again friend/lover Inspector Darling. Just what did happen in the root cellar? This is a cleverly plotted story with a delightful setting and amusing characters. Once again, Whishaw keeps us guessing to the end.

Video: Stratford play looks at 500 years of Indigenous history (The Canadian Press)
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