I've received plenty of credit for the creation of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, including in a few media stories about the rise and growing recognition of Kiwi crime fiction (read Herald on Sunday article here, Listener article here, Fairfax magazines article here), but the truth of the matter is that it was very much a team effort to bring New Zealand's first-ever crime fiction award to fruition late last year.
Amongst those who played a key part were the panel of judges, who generously gave their time to read novels that (in some cases) weren't even available in their own countries. One of those fantastic judges was Lou Allin, the Vice-President of Crime Writers of Canada, and a mystery novelist in her own right (write?). As an aside, last year Lou and I realised that we would have actually crossed paths back in April 2008, when I attended a CWC event announcing the Arthur Ellis finalists at the Vancouver Public Library, while I was travelling through Canada.
It's great to see that Lou is now getting positive reviews for her own latest mystery novel, SHE FELT NO PAIN, part of her RCMP Holly Martin series. Here's the blurb for the novel:
Summer in sleepy Fossil Bay on Vancouver Island gets a rocky start when the body of a homeless man is found near a popular creek. With his death confirmed as an overdose, RCMP Corporal Holly Martin discovers that he’s the long-lost criminal brother of a respected local woman, who’s planning to start a wellness centre. Living at home in her first command post, Holly is also troubled by slow progress in solving the disappearance ten years ago of her activist-lawyer mother. A record drought heats up the vacation paradise, and one match could send Canada’s Caribbean up in flames.
Spinetingler magazine said: "The author concentrates on developing the story against the raw beauty of nature and environment, which not only provide a truly forceful setting for the plot, but also a powerful conclusion" (read full review here).
Joan Barfoot in the Toronto Sun said: "Allin writes vividly and at length about the landscape and appeals of southern Vancouver Island, about some of the holistic practices popular in some circles there, and about aspects of aboriginal culture" (read full review here).
Margaret Cannon of the Globe and Mail said: "Allin is great at putting the bits together and keeping readers glued to the page. This one is lots of fun" (read full review here).
Harriet Klausner of Genre Go Round said: "An engaging whodunit that contrasts murder with the beauty of Vancouver Island. That comparisons of nature’s stark beauty to humanity’s avaricious homicidal tendencies makes for a strong whodunit as Holly investigates the murder and her own heritage with every step she takes enhanced by the setting she traverses." (read full review here).
Way to go Lou!
You can read my 9mm interview with Lou Allin here. I haven't been fortunate enough to read one of Lou's books for myself yet (they're not readily available here), but I think I might have to go online to remedy that quick smart.
Have you read any of Lou Allin's Belle Palmer or RCMP Holly Martin novels? Do you like the sound of SHE FELT NO PAIN? Of crime fiction set on Vancouver Island?