Review: Undertow by R.M. Greenaway

Title: Undertow by R.M. Greenaway
B.C. Blues Series Book Two
Publisher: Dundurn
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 424 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A heartbreaking set of murders bring detectives Leith and Dion together in the Lower Mainland, where violence flows like a riptide.

Last summer the inlet waters washed an unnamed woman’s body onto the rocks of North Vancouver’s Neptune shipyards. When RCMP Constable Cal Dion returns home after a year’s absence, he finds the case still open and grown cold.

While Dion works to fit back in and put closure to the Jane Doe drowning case, newly relocated Constable Dave Leith is learning to cope with his first big-city posting. But they have bigger concerns: Why would anyone beat up a young electrician, then track down his wife and baby girl to finish them off? It is a motiveless and haunting killing that leaves behind one small witness and a handful of cryptic clues. And who battered and asphyxiated a wealthy nightclub owner in his own garage? A case of home invasion, by the looks of it. But Leith has a less abstract set of suspects to deal with: the victim’s business partner and his strange little clan.

The North Vancouver General Investigations Section is put to the test, with two files to solve, one tragic cold case, and Dion seemingly lost at sea.


Set in Canada, Undertow by R.M. Greenaway is an intriguing police procedural.  This latest release is the second installment in the B.C. Blues series and while it can be read as a standalone, I strongly recommend reading the series in order to fully understand the characters’ backstories.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constables Cal Dion and Dave Leith have recently been transferred to North Vancouver and are once again working together.  Leith is struggling with living apart from his wife and daughter and he is also trying to assimilate to his transition to a life in a big city. Dion is still making progress with his recovery from a traumatic brain injury but he is frustrated by  his memory lapses and lack of focus. He is also depressed as he tries to settle back into his old life but does not fit comfortably in the world he once inhabited.

Leith and Dion are both trying to solve the heartbreaking murders of the Liu family when they are called to the scene of the puzzling murder of wealthy businessman Oscar Roth. The investigations into the murders are not really turning up any leads when Dion makes a sudden decision that leads to some very enlightening information.

Dave is much older than Cal and he is a competent constable who relies on old fashioned detective work during the investigation.  Despite Cal’s cognitive problems, he is quite intuitive but these flashes of brilliance sometime slip away before he can fully comprehend what he has just discovered.  The two men do not seem to really like each other but they do set aside their differences during the investigations.

Cal has plenty of tricks to make it appear that he is fit for duty.  But maintaining the facade that he is back to normal is exhausting and he doubts his competence.  His inability to fit back into his old life leads him to make a somewhat impetuous decision about his career.  He then becomes unexpectedly involved with some of the key witnesses in the investigations but can he really turn off the instincts that have become second nature to him over the years? When he unexpectedly stumbles onto a witness that could help solve the Liu murders, he is quick to call Dave but has Cal inadvertently tainted the investigation?

Despite the sometimes confusing storyline involving Cal Dion’s past, Undertow is a riveting murder mystery.  The investigations are fairly straight forward even though it takes a while for the pieces to begin to fall into place.  Dion and Leith are both likable protagonists and in spite of  their very different styles when it comes to detective work, they are a formidable investigative team. R.M. Greenaway has an enjoyable writing style but the slow parceling of information about Dion’s past is sometimes a little frustrating. This newest addition to the B.C. Blues series comes to a very clever conclusion that wraps up all of the loose ends with the current investigations.  However, readers will have wait for further installments to (hopefully) learn more about Cal Dion and his tangled past. 

1 Comment

Filed under BC Blues Crimes Series, Contest, Dundurn, Mystery, Rated B, Review, RM Greenaway, Undertow

One Response to Review: Undertow by R.M. Greenaway

  1. Timitra

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kathy