Archive for July, 2009

Honour Among Men

This is a fantastic book.  I picked up Honour Among Men (published by RendezVous Crime) by Barbara Fradkin as a summer read to take on holiday. It won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel by the Crime Writers of Canada in 2007. What a lucky find for me!

I usually don’t like books that go back and forth in time, but Fradkin does such a great job of weaving the past and the present. The present involves Ottawa and Halifax, the past is a peacekeeper’s diary written while on a mission in Croatia. The diary entries are brutal and vivid, and they bring to light an aspect of peacekeeping that we tend to forget about… that there often is no real peace to begin with. The present involves Patti Oliver from Sydney, Nova Scotia. She was found murdered in Ottawa  in an area where a lot of homeless people congregate. The first part of the puzzle to solve is “why was she in Ottawa?”. It seems her murder may have a link to the military and a murder years ago in Halifax. Inspector Michael Green and the Ottawa police work with Sergeant Kate McGrath of the Halifax police to try and tie up all the links and leads they have pertaining to the case, to see if it is connected to the case McGrath dealt with years ago in Halifax that was never solved.  It sounds complicated, but it isn’t. The writing is great, it’s easy to follow the storyline, and the diary bits really make you think about Canada’s role in peacekeeping missions. And the local references to Ottawa really appealed to me. Especially the dig about city council’s continuous debate over light-rail projects and tulip festivals.

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Margaret Atwood’s new novel

Margaret Atwood will will launch her new novel, The Year of the Flood, at The Word on the Street in Toronto on Septembert 27th. It will also be released simultaneously in Vancouver and Halifax. She will use her patented LongPen technology which enables her to appear live in Toronto while chatting with fans on either coast as she signs their books remotely.

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Advice for Italian Boys

Advice For Italian Boys ( published by HarperCollins) is Anne Giardini’s second book. I like her writing. But I have to admit that I didn’t want to read her first book, The Sad Truth about Happiness, because I was sure that I’d be looking for her mother in every sentence. Her mother was the late, GREAT, Carol Shields. But when I thought about it, I realized that if she became anywhere near as popular as her mother was, I was going to have to at some point read her books. Am I ever glad I did. I definitely felt her mother’s influence in that first book, but she also has her own way of writing that I’ve come to love and look forward to.

This is a hard book to write about. It isn’t a story with a beginning, middle and ending. It’s about understanding who we are, and how we relate and interact with others. Nicolo, the middle grandchild of his nonna, Filomena Giuseppina Pavone, is the one who understands her best, and appreciates her seemingly unending supply of  proverbi, her “losenge-like adages of old-timer’s advice”. Nonna has never come to feel at home  in Canada and is often lost in memories or dreams of her youth in Arduino, Calabria. Something so common to many immigrants who arrive here beyond their youth. The only thing she has that originates from her homeland are her proverbi and she uses them often. Nicolo isn’t exactly sure what he wants in life but he thinks that taking a night class in psychology will certainly help him in his role as a personal trainer and working at the gym. With nonna’s proverbi of old world advice, and his new introduction to psychology, Nicolo attempts to better understand his relationship with his clients, as well as his family and his friends. This book is not an action thriller. It’s food for thought on how we interact and relate to others in our daily lives. I really enjoyed it.

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