Some genuine laugh-out-loud moments poke fun at the British, perhaps unintentionally. There’s a wonderful mini-plot around llamas which draws a chuckle, whilst the actual detectives in the story are bumbling but not unbelievable.
This isn’t to say that the characters in The Filthy Marauders aren’t memorable. If anything the opposite is true; Freville’s gift seems to lie in his ability to craft flesh-and-blood eccentrics with voices that are all their own. It is only too disappointing that he has more enthusiasm for their suffering than he does for their redemption.
This meticulous nature of her research into each story marks her out from other writers. This is again evident in another beautiful story where a Parsi youth is obsessed with creating his own brand of perfume (Parfum). Rochelle goes into a heady mixture of the scents and perfumes employed. She even has a lab where the protagonist works to manufacture that one perfume that can be his own. Finally, instead of his wife, he finds solace in the arms of a maid whose function is merely to be like a springboard of scents.
Cold Enough for Snow is a deeply beautiful novel, richly potent in its themes, while resisting simple explication. It reads quickly, driven forward by the tension between presence and absence, love and shame, caring and being cared for, past and present, belonging and otherness, while its meaning unfolds slowly, lingering.
The descriptive narrative sets the stage, allowing the reader to step into the story and feel a part of it. Dialogue is well constructed, paying particular attention to the topics of discussion and the vocabulary relevant to this era. The protagonist, Annie, is a fun-loving young woman with a passion to succeed, to make something of herself, and to follow her dreams.
April on Paris Street has several areas of interest: the charms of Paris and Montreal; the varied work of a private investigator; the dark, dangerous world in which we live, and above all, the importance of staying connected to our families, whether they be blood relatives or “intentional families” of friends.
A complex, imaginative novel, The Counsel of the Cunningby Steven C. Harms, offers readers international thriller pacing combined with the precision of a police procedural and just the right gloss of mad scientist. It opens with a howler monkey and a kidnapped scientist, and it never slows down or lets up from there as the characters—good and bad—travel through vast landscapes and much danger. Broad in scope, the story is a bold adventure with harrowing interludes in which the prevailing question seems to be “what exactly is going on here?”
What really unifies this collection is all the characters who are in denial and/or honestly trying to suss out who they really are, how they fit into their bureaucracies, their families, the society in general, their authentic selves. It’s a very contemporary collection, too, with references to January 6 and a character named “The Dealmaker” who is plainly Donald Trump.
There is always a degree of artifice in the process of creating a narrative. A story must be constructed, and the many and multiple perspectives of reality fixed into something linear and sensical, which is, in its way, antithetical to the reality of life. Allen plays with this notion, weaving together multiple narrative threads into a story that sets itself up as a noir thriller with an engaging tagline: a writer held hostage by a beautiful woman, forced to type on his typewriter as a decoy to an assassination.
Mostly True Tales from Birchmont Village is a gentle comedy reminiscent of Stephen Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and Garrison Keillor’s novels. The humour derives from idiosyncratic characters who appear in the seven, chronological stories that make up the book.