Category Archives: Stonechild and Rouleau Series

Review: Closing Time by Brenda Chapman

Title: Closing Time by Brenda Chapman
Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery Series Book Seven
Publisher: Dundurn
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 392 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Secrets abound at a northern Ontario lodge when a teenage employee is murdered.

It’s late summer and a restless Officer Kala Stonechild has taken her foster niece, Dawn, on a canoe trip at Pine Hollow Lodge in the wilderness north of Sault Ste. Marie. But the getaway turns deadly when a teenage girl goes missing on her way home from an evening shift at the lodge’s restaurant.

After the girl’s body is found between the lodge and the nearby town of Searchmont, Stonechild reluctantly agrees to help with the investigation. She’s teamed with Clark Harrison, an officer she worked with during her last posting in northwestern Ontario. As the investigation heats up, Stonechild’s past threatens the close bonds she’s forged back home. Will she return to her life in Kingston, or will the rekindling of an old relationship lure her away for good?


The final installment in the outstanding Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery series, Closing Time by Brenda Chapman is an engrossing mystery.

Concerned about her niece Dawn and feeling on edge, Officer Kala Stonechild is taking some much needed time off from work. Leaving the city behind, Kala rents a cabin at a quiet, isolated lodge where she hopes spending time in nature will help decide her future. She and Dawn have only been on vacation for one day when a teenage employee disappears and is later found dead.  The officer working the case is none other than her former co-worker Clark Harrison. At Harrison’s request and the urging of Dawn, Kala joins the investigation. They quickly turn their attention to the people who last saw  victim Rachel Eglan alive. Could one of them have murdered the introverted sixteen year old?

Kala is very contemplative as she and Dawn try to spend as much time as possible in the wilderness.  For someone who has never had roots, Kala is uncertain whether she wants to remain in Kingston. Even her life with her niece is a little unsettled since Dawn’s mother might be released from prison after her parole hearing.  She is happy with her relationship with fellow police officer Paul Gunderson but is Kala really ready to permanently settle down?

Kala is soon quite busy as she and Clark begin questioning the people at the lodge. Kala senses owners Martha and Neal Loring and their cook Shane Patterson and his wife Petra are not being entirely forthcoming. Ian Kruger, Blaine Rogers and Thomas Faraday are long time renters who also fall under suspicion due to their proximity to Rachel. While Kala and Clark soon rule out other suspects, they turn their attention to Father Alec Vila. Rachel’s mother is deeply devout and Rachel regularly attended mass with her. Kala feels like they are inching closer to unmasking their killer when someone connected to the case is murdered. Will she and Clark catch the murderer before he/she strikes again?

Closing Time is a riveting mystery with well-drawn characters and a clever storyline.  Despite her distractions with her personal life, Kala is still an intuitive police officer with sharp instincts. The investigation into the murders moves at a steady pace. However, she and Harris have numerous suspects but no obvious motive the killings. With a jaw-dropping plot twist, Brenda Chapman brings this exciting mystery to an action-packed conclusion.

An excellent finale but I am a little sad this is the last time I will cozy up with the beloved characters from the Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery series.

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Review: Turning Secrets by Brenda Chapman

Title: Turning Secrets by Brenda Chapman
Stonechild and Rouleau Series Book Six
Publisher: Dundurn
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 408 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Keeping secrets is a very bad idea.

Former teenage runaway and new single mother Nadia Armstrong moves to Kingston to turn her life around. But six months after she rents a low-end apartment, her body is found at an isolated construction site. Major Crimes begins piecing together her last days, uncertain if it is a case of suicide or murder. To make matters more difficult, a member of the team is leaking information, putting Staff Sergeant Rouleau in a precarious position.

Meanwhile, Officer Kala Stonechild’s niece, Dawn, is secretly corresponding with her father, who’s out on early parole and turns up in town uninvited.Dawn’s friend Vanessa is also keeping a dangerous secret — her relationship with an older man named Leo, who preys on young girls. And it’s not long before he has Dawn in his sights.


Turning Secrets by Brenda Chapman is a puzzling mystery with a socially relevant storyline. Although this latest release is the sixth installment in the Stonechild and Rouleau series, it can be read as a standalone. However, I highly recommend the previous novels as well.

Kingston Major Crimes Officer Kala Stonechild cannot shake the feeling the death of Nadia Armstrong is not as straightforward as it seems. The young single mother appears to have committed suicide, but the information turned up during the investigation casts doubt on this theory. Her boss, Staff Sergeant Jacques Rouleau, is being pushed by acting Chief Willy Ellington to close the case. However, like Kala, Rouleau thinks there is more to Nadia’s death than meets the eye. Kala and Officer Tanya Morrison uncover interesting information about Nadia’s life outside of motherhood, but do these revelations have anything to do with her death?

Working long hours leaves Kala concerned about her teenage niece Dawn Cook who is unsupervised most days after school lets out. Dawn has finally settled into her life with her aunt and she has made a few friends. She is closest to Emily who is worried about another member of their circle, Vanessa, who spends most of her free time with her new boyfriend, Leo.  Dawn beings to agree after Vanessa introduces her to Leo, who is much older than the teenage girls and makes Dawn very uneasy. But Dawn has worries of her own since she is secretly meeting her ex-con father, Fisher Dumont, on the sly.

Throughout the investigation, there are also plenty of office politics playing out. Rouleau’s relationship with crime reporter Marci Stokes raises a few eyebrows especially since she is getting inside information about their cases. Kala’s burgeoning romance with fellow Officer Paul Gundersund runs into problems when his estranged wife returns to town.  Officer Woodhouse continues to rub his fellow police officers the wrong way with his prickly attitude. And Rouleau is unhappy with Chief Ellington’s pressure to close Nadia’s case.

Turning Secrets is an extremely  clever police procedural that is multi-layered and engrossing. The regular characters continue to grow and evolve as they work their cases and juggle their lives outside of Major Crimes.  Brenda Chapman’s topical storyline deals with somewhat dark subject matter but she deftly incorporates these issues into the unfolding story.  With shocking twists and stunning turns, this gripping mystery comes to a breathtaking and surprising conclusion. Another fantastic outing in the Stonechild and Rouleau series that old and new fans are sure to enjoy.

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Review: Bleeding Darkness by Brenda Chapman

Title: Bleeding Darkness by Brenda Chapman
Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery Series Book Five
Publisher: Dundurn
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 392 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Two murders, fourteen years apart, both shrouded in secrets.

David McKenna lies dying in a Kingston hospital, his children gathered from across the country to say a final goodbye. But the family reunion opens old wounds. David’s only daughter, Lauren, never recovered from the unsolved murder of her high school best friend fourteen years earlier ― or the suspicion that her brother, Tristan, was behind it.

Before David breathes his last, Tristan’s pregnant wife disappears and the Major Crimes Unit is called in to help find her. With Kala Stonechild struggling to reconnect with her foster niece and Zach Woodhouse making trouble for Staff Sergeant Jacques Rouleau, tensions are running high on the team, but they must put their personal problems aside when a woman’s strangled body is found frozen on the Rideau Trail.

With a winter storm sweeping the shores of Lake Ontario, the team uncovers unspeakable betrayals that give more than one suspect a reason to kill …


The fifth installment in the marvelous Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery series, Bleeding Darkness by Brenda Chapman is a superb police procedural. This latest release can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the entire series.

David McKenna is dying and Evelyn has summoned their three children Adam, Lauren and Tristan to say their final goodbyes. Lauren is unmarried and although her relationship with Evelyn is fractious, she adores her father. Her older brother Adam is the golden child of the family and he is a pilot who is married to Mona and they have a special needs son, Simon. Lauren is closest to her younger brother, Tristan, who is married to Vivian and they are expecting their first child together. Fourteen years earlier, Tristan was the suspect in the murder of his ex-girlfriend and Lauren’s best friend Zoe Delgado’s murder which still remains unsolved. So when Vivian vanishes and is later found murdered, suspicion inevitably falls on Tristan. With Officer Woodhouse leading the investigation into Vivian’s death, Officer Kala Stonechild is assigned to look into Zoe’s unsolved murder to see if the two cases are connected.

The McKenna family is extremely dysfunctional and their bedside gathering highlights their difficult relationships. Lauren is a successful business owner who drinks too much and looks for love in all the wrong places. Her visits home are extremely limited and she rarely sees her brothers. Adam’s job as a pilot makes him a bit of an absentee husband but Mona is a dedicated mother to their son. Tristan is a published author whose first novel was a success but he has struggled to publish any other works. His marriage to Vivian hit a rough spot the previous year, but with the impending birth of their child, they are committed to making a go of things. Tristan is absolutely stunned by her murder and his worst fears come true when Officer Woodhouse zeroes in on him as the prime suspect in her death.

Kala is not one to make waves so she is content to scrutinize Zoe’s unsolved murder. She is not as convinced as Woodhouse that the two cases are linked especially since the manner of death in each case is different. Kala is surprised when Lauren reveals troubling information about the long ago murder but with incomplete information, the new lead does not yield a new suspect. The one thing Kala is certain about is the killer (or killers) knows the McKenna family but with so little evidence in either case, she is uncertain whether or not they will make an arrest anytime soon.

With trouble brewing behind the scenes, Staff Sergeant Jacques Rouleau has no choice but to assign Woodhouse as the investigation lead. He is a bit dismayed that Woodhouse is determined to prove Tristan is the killer but he has complete confidence in Kala. When new evidence comes to light, Jacques fully supports her plan to try to unmask the murderer. Needless to say, everyone is on edge during a confrontation that leaks to an absolutely shocking confession by the killer.

Bleeding Darkness is an intricately plotted mystery that is quite riveting. Stonechild, Rouleau and the rest of characters (with one notable exception) continue to evolve and grow with each new installment of the series.  In addition to the mystery aspect of this newest release, Brenda Chapman incorporates a Romanian atrocity into the storyline through the back story of the McKenna’s neighbors.  Old and new fans of the Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery series are sure to enjoy this latest outing in which Kala once again shines as a police officer whose compassion puts her head and shoulders above some of her fellow officers.

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Review: Shallow End by Brenda Chapman

Title: Shallow End by Brenda Chapman
Stonechild and Rouleau Series Book Four
Publisher: Dundurn
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Still waters run deep.

English teacher, mother, wife, and convicted child predator Jane Thompson has made parole and she has a plan. She begins her life in the shadows while she bides her time. One month later, the bludgeoned body of the student she was found guilty of corrupting four years earlier is found on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Officers Stonechild and Gundersund head up the investigation and Jane Thompson quickly becomes the prime suspect. But knowing guilt and proving it are two entirely different things.

Wading through deeply buried secrets to the truth will take Stonechild and the team on a twisted journey into the heart of evil. The question is: who will come out the other side?


Shallow End by Brenda Chapman is a riveting mystery that has plenty of unexpected twists and turns.  This fourth installment in the Stonechild and Rouleau series can easily be read as a standalone but I highly recommend the other books in the series.

After teenager Devon Eton is murdered, Staff Sergeant Jacques Rouleau assigns Detectives Kala Stonechild and Paul Gundersund to the case.  Devon’s parents, Hilary and Mitchell are convinced Jane Thompson, the teacher who was convicted of sexually abusing their son four years earlier, is responsible for his death. Recently released from prison, Jane is attempting to rebuild her life and reconnect with her two children.  Stonechild and Gundersund’s investigation turns up no evidence against Jane and in fact, they are having a difficult time uncovering any leads in the case.  Does Devon’s best friend Charlie Hanson know more than he is telling? What possible motive would Jane have for killing Devon?  Stonechild and Gundersund  hope the answers to these very intriguing questions will help them unmask Devon’s killer.

Rouleau, Stonechild and Gundersund are seasoned detectives but their investigation quickly hits a brick wall.  Stonechild is very intuitive and she relies are her instincts just as much as she does the evidence.  Not wanting to reveal her theories until she has more information, Stonechild is a bit of  a loner who plays her cards very close to her vest for much of the investigation.  Gundersund cannot help but be a little concerned that Stonechild is reverting to old habits, but he knows she will confide in him once she the evidence to back to up her hunches.

Kala and Paul are not as certain as the Etons that Jane is responsible for their son’s death.  They turn up a few inconsistencies during their interviews with Devon’s teachers and classmates.  By all accounts, he is an incredibly smart young man who is well-liked by his peers but his coach’s assessment of his player is not quite as positive as everyone else’s.  They are also quite certain that Charlie knows much more than he is telling but he is rather uncooperative during their interviews with him.

In addition to the ongoing investigation, the detectives assigned to the case are struggling with personal issues as well.  Kala grows increasingly worried about the situation with her niece Dawn, who is not settling in with her foster family.  Paul despairs of ever getting free of his estranged wife, Fiona, who refuses to believe their marriage is finally over.  Rouleau is still grieving his ex-wife’s death and he continues to be concerned about his father.  Fellow detective Woodhouse continues to be a thorn in everyone’s side due to his off color jokes and sly behavior.

Shallow End is an incredibly well-written police procedural with a clever storyline and brilliant plot twists.  Brenda Chapman keeps the murderer’s identity and motive for the crime tightly under wraps right up until the novel’s explosive conclusion.  An absolutely outstanding addition to the Stonechild and Rouleau series that old and new fans do not want to miss.


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