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Canadian Crime Writers You Should Be Reading

As a Canadian author, I'm constantly seeking out other Canadian authors to support by buying and reading their work. Since I love crime fiction, my latest reading kick has been crime fiction written by writers from Canada. So, here are some great writers I've discovered recently whose work I highly recommend.

Scott Thornley:

Scott is the most recent discovery on this list. I'm currently reading the third novel in his Iain MacNiece series and they are fantastic. The premise of each book is intriguing and I always find myself not wanting to put the book down even when I have other things that require my attention. I need to find out how each book ends. It's shocking to me that I'm writing this article rather than reading Raw Bone, which involves two murder investigations that, I'm guessing, are connected somehow.

MacNiece himself is an intriguing character. He's a Detective Superintendent with the Dundurn (a fictional city based on Hamilton, Ontario) Police. He's as observant as Sherlock Holmes and shows an extraordinary amount of empathy and compassion. He reminds me of Chief Inspector Gamache, whom we will talk about a bit later. But, like any good fictional character, he's not without his flaws.

The other main characters in the series, Fiza Aziz and Michael Vertesi are intriguing enough that we want to learn about them as much as we do MacNiece himself. There are some nice touches Thornley uses to give us insight into certain characters. He doesn't tell us everything about his characters, but shows us quite a bit.

Middlemen by Scott Thornley

Louise Penny:

I'm not a huge fan of cozy mysteries but I first heard about Louise Penny late last year and when I was asked by my kids what I wanted for Christmas, the first thing that came to mind was Penny's first novel ,Still Life. Well, my daughter came through and within a day or two of receiving my gift, I was reading the book.

Now, I will admit, I wasn't a fan of Penny's writing style at first. By the end of the first chapter, I wondered if I was going to make it to the end. Not finishing a book is something I don't do lightly. It is a rare thing for me to not see a book through to the end.

But I reminded myself that it's a first novel and to give it a chance. I'm happy I did. The story was compelling enough that I was able to ignore what I found to be choppy writing and I fell in love with the story and the characters. Especially Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. He is a patient and intelligent man, but Penny is quick to show us that he is not infallible and has made many mistakes.

A TV series was made this year based on Penny's books called Three Pines and it was great. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery and doesn't mind being left hanging because the first season ended on a doozy of a cliffhanger and was cancelled. So we will never find out what happens since the cliffhanger involves a secondary plot not found in the books. At least none of the books I've read. I've read the first six in the series so far.

Something else I love about these books is some of them delve into the rich history of Quebec. Say what you will about the province's politics, but French Canadians have a beautiful culture and Quebec has a fascinating history.

I definitely recommend Penny's work to anyone who likes a good mystery and since the books take place in the small town of Three Pines, there are many recurring characters for us to get to know.

A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny

Sam Wiebe:

I'm a sucker for a good P.I. novel. I've always been fascinated by characters like Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Mike Hammer. So imagine my delight when I came across Vancouver-based Sam Wiebe. His first novel, The Last of the Independents, is a standalone book featuring P.I. Michael Drayton. Then came the David Wakeland series. I just finished the fourth book, Sunset and Jericho and these books are as good as any of the classic P.I. novels written by Chandler, Hammett or Spillane.

Wakeland is a set-in-his-ways P.I. who runs a business with his partner Jeff Chen. Jeff is the one with the business sense and handles the security portion of the business and Wakeland stubbornly runs the private investigation part, which he refuses to give up even though it doesn't pay the bills. Wakeland exhibits some of the familiar tropes we see in P.I. fiction (ex-cop) but Wakeland isn't your typical private investigator.

While he does make some bad decisions (okay, a lot of bad decisions) he's not intentionally reckless. He does have a sense of self-preservation that some other fiction P.I.'s lack. He feels like a normal person, rather than some larger than life, flawless hero. It's Wiebe's realism that gives his work its charm.

Based on how the last book ended (no spoilers), I have a feeling we're not getting a new Wakeland novel anytime soon. While this saddens me, I am definitely looking forward to whatever Wiebe has coming down the pipeline. As soon as a new book drops, I'll be standing in line, cash in hand.

Sunset and Jericho by Sam Wiebe

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Joseph Mulak

Canadian Crime and Horror Fiction Author

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