As the calendar flips the page here in New Zealand, from March to April, today is of course April Fool's Day (also known as All Fool's Day in some countries). I remember this day with great fondness from my childhood and university days - a great excuse to play pranks and hoaxes (of a hilarious but harmless nature of course - nothing malicious) on friends, families, and strangers. Trying to see who is gullible, and how creative you can be.
Growing up in New Zealand, I remember the pranks are only meant to last until midday, with anyone trying to pull a prank after midday being the fool themselves, rather than the person they play the prank on. I'm not sure if the radio stations etc still conform to that 'rule' anymore, or take the tack of a few other countries (e.g. USA, Canada, France, Ireland, etc) where April Fool's Day is seen as an all-day 'event'. I understand that in terms of literature, the earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness can be found in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1392).
So, since we are hitting one of those well-known days that aren't holidays or other formal celebrations, but merely culturally well-known (like Friday the 13th etc), I thought I would take the opportunity to republish a review I wrote on some crime fiction associated with the day; APRIL FOOL by the excellent Canadian crime writer William Deverell. Unfortunately Deverell's work isn't widely available down here in New Zealand (I picked up my copy when I was travelling on Vancouver Island in early 2008), but I'd recommend any crime fiction fans in North America to get their hands on some of his work. I gave APRIL FOOL 4-stars, but in hindsight it perhaps should have been a 4-1/2 star rating. The main character, and Deverell's unique writing style, stick with you long after you've put the book down.
One of the greatest joys of travelling overseas is experiencing things not readily available Downunder; different sights, different tastes, different activities, and different cultures. And for bibliophiles, you can even discover different writers. Just like there are fantastic antipodean authors not distributed widely overseas, there are also international gems unavailable on bookshelves here.William Deverell is one such gem. The doyen of Canadian crime writing, Deverell continues to rack up awards and acclaim thirty years after first picking up the fiction-writing pen as a sideline to his career as a top criminal barrister.
The award-winning April Fool marks the return of one of Deverell’s most beloved characters; Arthur Beauchamp, a Denny Crane-esque legal legend now retired to a hobby farm on one of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands. Beauchamp’s quiet life is upturned when his environmental activist wife decides to protest logging by living in a tree, at the same time as a roguish ex-client is accused of a heinous rape and murder.
The heroically fallible Beauchamp is forced onto an entertaining rollercoaster combining courtroom thriller with mystery whodunit. For readers, Deverell’s unique writing style – melding quirky characters, witty dialogue, contemporary themes, and literary touches into a richly authentic Canadian setting, makes the ride all the more worthwhile. (Highly)Recommended.
So, what April Fool's Day crime or thriller fiction have you read and enjoyed? What are some of the best crime/thriller fiction tales based around or inspired by the funloving pranks and foolishness of the day?