Sunday, August 23, 2009

Review of APRIL FOOL

When I was travelling through Canada in 2008, I was fortunate enough to attend a crime-writing themed evening at the Vancouver Public Library, which coincided with the announcement of the 2008 Arthur Ellis Award finalists (the Canadian crime writing awards). As part of that, I was exposed to many Canadian authors I'd never before heard about. Buying a couple of books by Mark Zuehlke and William Deverell, I was impressed - and on my return downunder I eventually reviewed one of them for Good Reading magazine, despite it unfortunately not being readily available in NZ/Australia.

Normally I won't be reprinting any Good Reading reviews on this blog. As a one-off however, I am going to reprint below my review of William Deverell's APRIL FOOL, as an example of the plethora of great crime writing that can be found in many (perhaps unintentionally) overlooked corners of the world (like New Zealand) - and as an example of how I've discovered that opening yourself up to new writers, from places both new and known, can often be a wonderful experience.

April Fool by William Deverell

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. Recommended.

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