I picked up the first of these, A Killer in King’s Cove when we were in our favorite vacation place, Tofino B.C. There’s a little bookstore called Mermaid Tales, and we always go in and buy a book or two. I always like reading books with local interest, and this series by a Vancouver, B.C. author intrigued me.
It seems I’m reading a lot of books these days set in the 1950’s, from James Runcie’s Grantchester mysteries, Kate Atkinson’s Transcription, and these books set in the B.C. Interior. I was caught right away by Whishaw’s ability to describe and invoke the area – what they call the Kootenay (after the lake of the same name) in and around Nelson. She lived there when she was a child, so these books have a deep place in her own life and memory. I’ve also always loved this area. We traveled there when I was a child, and I’ve been through there many times since. So the geography itself was enough to get me started.
The protagonist, Lane Winslow, is an English young woman who comes there to begin anew after a secretive career during World War II and at the end of a bad romance. It’s not totally clear why she chose Canada, and it’s described as a random, capricious choice, but one that seems to fit perfectly as the story unfolds. She’s lives in King’s Cove, a small community a ferry ride across the lake from Nelson and another 30 mile ride up the road. Whishaw does a wonderful job of describing the people in the small community, and the terrible effects of the war are still powerfully present.
I’m so taken with these that I am reading book four – haven’t hardly come up for air! The stories are good, the characters are splendid and well-defined, and the writing is excellent. I do think she needs a better proof-reader/editor. Both books one and three have characters referred to wrongly, and book four has at least one serious misspelling. And I was disappointed by a kind of cheap trick in A Killer in King’s Cove where it is obvious who “the director” is but she hides it away until Lane uncovers it. I think the book would have been better to name the person when first using that character. But in all these are well worth the read, especially if you love the wonderful expanses of western Canada as I do.
Here’s the list:
A Killer in King’s Cove (2016)
Death in a Darkening Mist (2017)
An Old, Cold Grave (2017)
It Begins in Betrayal (2018)
Sorrowful Sanctuary (2018)
A Deceptive Devotion (2019)