Category Archives: Dundurn

Review: The Devil’s Choir by Martin Michaud

Title: The Devil’s Choir by Martin Michaud
Victor Lessard Series Book Two
Publisher: Dundurn Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In this intricate, intense mystery from the acclaimed “master of the Quebec thriller,” the ghosts of Victor Lessard’s past come back to haunt him as he investigates a horrific murder-suicide that doesn’t add up.

When a young Montreal family dies in an orgy of bloody violence, all signs point to a rampage by the father. But Victor Lessard isn’t convinced. The brilliant, brooding detective suspects that others were involved in the killings. But who? And why? As Lessard struggles to solve the puzzle, the discovery of a nightmarish chamber of horrors seems to confirm that the murders are part of a wider pattern.

Meanwhile, in the Major Crimes Unit, Jacinthe Taillon is investigating the strange kidnapping of Laila François, a former street kid turned webcam girl. Could there be a connection with Lessard’s case?

With a ghost from his past making him doubt his own sanity, Lessard must evade the lethal operatives of a powerful, highly secretive organization as he races to untangle the mystery ― before a diabolical killer can strike again.


The Devil’s Choir by Martin Michaud is a perplexing mystery set in Montreal. Although this newest release is the second installment in the Victor Lessard series, it can be read as a standalone.

Detective Sergeant Victor Lessard is haunted by both his current case and his deceased brother as he works on a suspected murder/suicide. Troubling aspects at the scene include an incredibly high number of flies and shocking self-inflicted wounds in addition to an inexplicable wound on suspected killer John Cook. By all appearances, John murdered his wife and children before taking his own life. Lessard is immediately is thrust back into his past as he tries to prove this case is not as open and shut as it appears.

Meanwhile, there is a secondary story arc involving a young sex worker who goes missing. Laila is in the process of straightening out her life while at the same time fearing someone from her past will find her. When she is initially kidnapped, Laila believes she knows who has taken her, but she quickly realizes she is wrong.

The Devil’s Choir is a multi-layered mystery with a memorable storyline. Lessard is sinking into depression as he loses sleep while trying to figure exactly what happened in the Cook household. The plot is interesting but sometimes a little confusing due to the sheer number of characters. With many unpredictable twists and turns,  Martin Michaud brings this clever mystery to an unanticipated conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dundurn, Martin Michaud, Mystery, Rated B, Review, The Devil's Choir, Victor Lessard Series

Review: Even So by Lauren B. Davis

Title: Even So by Lauren B. Davis
Publisher: Dundurn
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A novel that explores the challenge and necessity of loving difficult people.

Angela Morrison has it all. She’s married to a wealthy man, adores her son, grows orchids, and volunteers at Our Daily Bread Food Pantry. What more could she want? More ― much more. And she’s willing to risk everything after meeting Carsten, the landscaper with the glacier-blue eyes.

Sister Eileen, who runs Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, struggles with the silence of God and harbours a secret she believes is unforgivable. She yearns to convince Angela she is loved by God, despite her selfishness and destructive behaviour, but in order for that to be authentic Eileen must learn to love her first, and that’s no easy task ― especially after Angela causes a terrible tragedy. Through the crucible of their relationship, Angela and Eileen discover how caring for the most difficult among us and practising forgiveness, no matter how painful, opens a door to the miracle of transformation.


Even So by Lauren B. Davis is a compelling novel of redemption.

Now in her mid-forties, Angela Morrison is increasingly dissatisfied with her life. She has lost interest in her husband and although they are wealthy, she yearns for something more. What that something is, Angela has no idea. She has a plethora of acquaintances but only one close confidant. Angela is a bit shallow and snobbish but she does volunteer once a week at the Our Daily Bread Food Pantry. She likes Sister Eileen but they do not form an unlikely friendship of sorts until they begin planting a garden with landscaper Carsten Pilgaard. Angela is attracted to Carsten and she makes the first of a few bad decisions when she embarks on a torrid affair with him.

Angela’s only desire when she was younger is to have security. She marries Philip not out of love but out of her need to elevate herself out of poverty. For many years, she is content in her marriage, but with their son, Connor, off to boarding school, Angela becomes increasingly restless. She is not one for self-reflection so she does not give much thought to the consequences of her affair with Carsten. After a huge argument with Philip, Angela discovers the limitations of her illicit relationship and she makes a fateful choice that leads to her shocking downfall.

Sister Eileen works tirelessly helping others. But, for quite some time, she has been suffering a crisis of faith. Sister Eileen has made peace with much of her past yet she remains haunted (and horrified) by one stunning action that she just cannot let go. She is very observant and she knows exactly what her volunteer has been doing. Despite her inability to always like Angela, she does selflessly support and love her when Angela hits rock bottom and its aftermath.

Even So is a riveting novel that is spiritual without being preachy. Angela is not a likable character but it is not difficult to feel empathy for her as she struggles with the consequences for her decisions. Sister Eileen is flawed but this makes her much more realistic and easy to like. The storyline is engaging and moves at a steady pace. With unpredictable twists, Lauren B. Davis brings this thought-provoking story of grace to a surprising yet gratifying conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dundurn, Even So, Lauren B Davis, Rated B, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: Five Ways to Disappear by R.M. Greenaway

Title: Five Ways to Disappear by R.M. Greenaway
B.C. Blues Crime Series Book Six
Publisher: Dundurn Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A dangerous undercover assignment nearly puts Dion in his grave.

North Vancouver RCMP officers Leith and Dion have a gruesome new mystery lying at their feet. Up in the breezy heights of Paradise Road, a craftsman has been spiked to his lawn by his own artwork. Was it an aesthetics-fuelled feud with the neighbours? An enemy from the past? Or the most challenging of crimes to solve: a random attack?

Drawn into an offside mystery of his own, Dion befriends a young magician, who then seems to make herself disappear. But with the team closing in on the Paradise Road killer, he must put aside his personal dilemmas to take on the lead role in setting a trap for their volatile suspect. It’s a foolproof setup, but even the best laid plans can go awry, and this one leads him straight into a fight for his life.


Five Ways to Disappear by R.M. Greenaway is a character driven police procedural. Although this latest release is the sixth mystery in the B.C. Blues Crime series, it can be read as a standalone. But I highly recommend reading the mysteries in order for important backstory.

RCMP Constable Cal Dion is called to work a murder scene with his boss RCMP Corporal Dave Leith.  The victim, Lawrence Follick, has rather brutally murdered in his own yard. The murder weapon is at the scene and might yield valuable evidence. Since the scene is somewhat isolated, Cal and Dave hope one of his neighbors might have witnessed somethin that will lead to the perpetrator.

Lawrence has also been volunteering his services for an upcoming magic show, so they have another avenue of inquiry to pursue. Cal is intrigued by one of the witnesses, Bianca, and an unexpected friendship springs up between them. When another death occurs in the area of the magic show, Cal, Dave and Constable JD Temple begin searching for a possible link in hopes of catching their killer.

Trying to recapture his former happiness, Cal is waiting to move into a new apartment. He is temporarily residing in a basement apartment and it is not helping his impending sense of doom. This is why he is so grateful to spend time with Bianca who is not forthcoming about herself. But briefly escaping his ominous dreams only lessens his anxiety for short periods of time. Cal is also trying to understand why JD is giving him the cold shoulder. Is there any way she knows his secret?

Dave is under stress as he prepares for an upcoming assignment. Working on Follick’s murder helps distract him from his concerns. Dave, Cal and JD are tracking down every lead, but they are growing frustrated by their lack of progress. They each look at the various clues differently but through their hard work, they are inching ever closer to the truth.

Five Ways to Disappear is an intriguing mystery with an eclectic cast of characters. The investigation is interesting to watch as Cal, Dave and JD try to make sense of scant evidence.  Cal continues to wrestle with his conscience as his torment level increases. JD makes a surprising discovery about herself but it remains to be seen what she will do about it. Dave’s career is taking a possible dangerous turn as he is faced with his new assignment.  R.M. Greenaway ends this newest mystery on the verge of a possibly pivotal moment that could bring big changes for one of the three members of the RCMP. Old and new fans will enjoy this newest addition to the B.C. Blues Crime series.

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Filed under BC Blues Crimes Series, Contemporary, Dundurn, Five Ways to Disappear, Mystery, Rated B, Review, RM Greenaway

Review: The Day She Died by S.M. Freedman

Title: The Day She Died by S.M. Freedman
Publisher: Dundurn
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 328 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


After a traumatic head injury, Eve questions every memory and motive in this mind-bending psychological thriller.

Eve Gold’s birthdays are killers, and her twenty-seventh birthday proves to be no different. But for the up-and-coming Vancouver artist, facing death isn’t the real shock ― it’s what comes after.

Recovering from a near-fatal accident, Eve is determined to return to the life she’s always wanted: a successful artistic career, marriage to the man who once broke her heart, and another chance at motherhood. But brain damage leaves her forgetful, confused, and tortured by repressed memories of a deeply troubled childhood, where her innocence was stolen one lie ― and one suspicious death ― at a time.

As the dark, twisted pages unfold, Eve must choose between clinging to the lies that helped her survive her childhood and unearthing the secrets she buried long ago.


The Day She Died by S.M. Freedman is an intriguing novel with a unique premise.

Eve Gold is struck by car and suffers a traumatic brain injury. After several months of recovery, she continues to suffer the aftereffects. Eve must cope with memory loss and losing time throughout the day. She is also an artist and her paintings take a dark turn in the aftermath of her accident. Eve reconnects with a childhood friend’s brother and he is more than willing to assist her during her recovery as is Eve’s beloved grandmother.

A sense of unease underlies Eve’s life in the present and this appears to stem from her childhood. She and her mother, Donna, live with Eve’s grandmother who happily takes care of  her granddaughter. Donna puts all of her energy into her career as a lawyer and she is indifferent to the point of neglect in regards to her daughter. Since her mother makes no attempt to hide her antipathy toward her, Eve is close to her grandmother. And after making friends with Sara, the two children are thick as thieves as they run in and out of each other’s homes explore the outdoors.

The Day She Died is an engrossing mystery that weaves back and forth in time between events in the present and Eve’s childhood. The characters are well-drawn with distinct personalities. Eve’s narration offers an up-close perspective of her brain injury and her lack of clear memories in the past or present. With a bit of a mystery hanging over Eve and events in her life, S.M. Freedman brings this clever novel to a twist-filled conclusion that answers most of these questions.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dundurn, Mystery, Rated B, Review, SM Freedman, The Day She Died

Review: Why the Rock Falls by J.E. Barnard

Title: Why the Rock Falls by J.E. Barnard
The Falls Mysteries Series Book Three
Publisher: Dundurn
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 424 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Danger lurks in the wilderness of the Rockies.

After a dinner-party clash between entrenched oil interests and liberal Hollywood insiders, only Michael and Tyrone, the two children at the disastrous event, remain friends. But soon one dinner guest dinner guest is dead and two more are missing in the Alberta wilds.

As Jan Brenner comforts the newly-bereaved Michael, Lacey McCrae infiltrates the Caine oil dynasty to learn which of Tyrone’s older half-brothers and their scheming mothers most want him gone. With the search for the missing heading into its third night, Lacey uncovers a massive hole in the Caine ranch’s security network as well as evidence of previous attacks on Tyrone. Then Jan discovers a long-buried connection between the two families that threatens Michael, too.

As thunderstorms roll over the vast limestone cliffs of the Ghost Wilderness, danger stalks Michael, Tyrone, and the women who struggle to keep them safe.


The third installment in The Falls Mysteries series, Why the Rock Falls by J.E. Barnard is a perplexing mystery.

Former Mountie Lacey McCrae is still working security as she works on obtaining her private investigator license.  While taking care of security for Jake Wyman, she saves Hollywood director Mylo Matheson’s wife, Kitrin Devine, from drowning. In a cruel twist of fate the next day, Kitrin is found dead in the pool by Lacey’s and Kitrin’s friend Jan Brenner.

As the local authorities investigate Kitrin’s murder, Lacey’s boss requests she go to oil baron Orrin Caine’s home. Orrin and his son Tyrone are missing and Lacey is tasked with ensuring the remainder of the family is safe. Orrin was at Jake’s home the night before Kitrin’s murder and Lacey cannot help but wonder if the two cases are somehow related.

Lacey remains haunted by the past she left behind when she quit the RCMP and moved from the city. She is good friends with Jan and Lacey relies on her quite a bit while working at the Caine home. As searchers comb the local area for Orrin and Tyrone, Lacey finds surprising evidence. She also discovers several places where security could have breached. Looking through recent security footage, Lacey finds evidence to back up her theory about what might have happened to cause Orrin’s disappearance. She then relies on Jan to help sharpen the images in hopes of identifying the perpetrator.  Lacey has a large suspect pool to chose from since Orrin was not exactly beloved by his ex-wives or his adult children.

Why the Rock Falls is a multi-layered mystery with two intriguing mysteries to solve. The series regulars are well developed and likable. The secondary cast members are plentiful and the vast number makes it difficult to tell them apart. The two cases are interesting and the investigations move at a slow but steady pace.  In a race against time,  J.E. Barnard brings this fascinating mystery to an exciting conclusion that is action-packed. Old and new fans will enjoy this newest addition to The Falls Mysteries series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dundurn, JE Barnard, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, The Falls Mysteries Series, Why the Rock Falls

Review: Tell Me My Name by Erin Ruddy

Title: Tell Me My Name by Erin Ruddy
Publisher: Dundurn
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Mystery
Length: 344 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A roller-coaster domestic thriller for fans of Ruth Ware and Shari Lapena featuring a rustic cottage retreat, a suspicious new neighbour, a violent kidnapping, and a wife who learns her husband isn’t telling her the whole truth.

Ellie and Neil Patterson are eager to enjoy some quality time at their new cottage. It’s the first time in ten years they’ve been alone … or are they?

When a friendly encounter leads to their violent kidnapping, they awaken to a living nightmare. Insisting he is Ellie’s soulmate, the stranger gives her three chances to say his name. If she guesses wrong, it’s Neil who will suffer the consequences. This propels Ellie into a desperate trip down memory lane to dredge up the dubious men of her past.

Only after discovering the man’s true identity and sacrificing her own safety to save Neil does Ellie finally learn the truth — that everything she thinks she knows about her husband and their decade-long love story is a lie.


Tell Me My Name is a chilling mystery debut by Erin Ruddy.

Ellie Patterson and husband Neil are enjoying their newly purchased vacation home. Their two children  have been dropped at summer camp and they are hoping to reconnect during their time alone.  But their idyllic retreat is shattered when a clearly disturbed stranger kidnaps Ellie and insists she call him by his name or Neil will suffer the consequences. With only three chances to save Neil’s life, will Ellie figure out who the identity of the man menacing them?

Erin is their children’s main caregiver and she is also responsible for household chores. She never imagined her dreamed of career would take a backseat to her marriage. After years of exhaustion and dissatisfaction,  Erin hopes the time alone will set their marriage back on track but right before she is kidnapped, she makes a stunning discovery.

Erin has no idea who is holding her captive, and despite what she just learned, she is determined to save Neil.  Rapidly sifting through memories from her past, she is uncomfortable with a few choices. Erin also relives a painful time from childhood which forever altered her family. With only three chances to get correctly identify her kidnapper, Erin is under intense pressure to figure out who this man is.

While the premise of Tell Me My Name is unique, none of the characters are likable and they are rather one dimensional.  The dialogue is melodramatic and the overall story is a overly dramatic. The antagonist is clearly disturbed and has never recovered from his abusive childhood.  The main detective, Flora Fitzgerald, is a bit of an odd duck and she comes across as inept. Neil is an annoying character who interferes in the investigation and puts himself and his brother-in-law in unnecessary danger. An unexpected plot twist late in the novel is quite shocking and completely unpredictable.  Erin Ruddy brings this domestic mystery to a realistic conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dundurn, Erin Ruddy, Rated C, Review, Suspense, Tell Me My Name