Friday, June 22, 2012

Staff Pick - New Canadian author Deryn Collier

What do homicide, hops and horticulture have in common? The great new debut novel Confined Space (M) by Deryn Collier.

I’ll admit that for years I tended to stick to the same authors. Once I find an author I really like, I am happy knowing that I can depend on enjoying a satisfying read. Recently I have broken my old habits and tried several new authors. The most recent debut novel that I have read was a real treat that I felt I just had to share!

Confined Space by Deryn Collier is of such high quality that it is hard to credit it as a first novel.The setting is Kootenay Landing, British Columbia, a small town surrounded by majestic mountains. The female protagonist is the safety compliance officer for Bugaboo Brewery. A stickler for following safety procedures to the letter, Evie Chapelle is shocked and upset to find that one of the brewery workers has been killed in what is at first thought to be a grisly industrial accident.

Soon after, the body of the victim’s girlfriend is found in a field just outside the brewery. With two victims, it seems obvious that they were both the victims of murder. But why? and by whom?

photo by Natalie Santano.
The male protagonist is the area’s coroner. Not the type of coroner that does autopsies ( as depicted on television), this coroner merely investigates the circumstances of deaths, suspicious and otherwise. He is a recent retiree from the military and carries haunting memories of his time in Afghanistan. Bern Fortin now devotes equal time to his coroner’s post and his vegetable garden – this in hopes that his haunted past will be usurped by a quiet life in small-town British Columbia.

Bern’s dreams of a quiet life are interrupted when he and Evie must work together to find a killer. Also, they find themselves immediately attracted to one another… there is just one problem. Evie is married. It is a childless marriage and she and her husband appear apathetic about the relationship. She is a workaholic who doesn’t seem interested in much of anything beyond her job and her dog, Rory… that is until she meets Bern.

Bern makes her feel safe and comfortable. Feelings she has not felt in a long time. However their joint investigation is making someone in the community very nervous. So much so that Evie’s life is put in jeopardy.

Confined Space is a thriller in which the reader both likes and identifies with the characters. With just enough of the ‘whodunit’ to satisfy this die-hard mystery lover coupled with just enough elements of romantic suspense – this novel will appeal to a broad audience. The plot is written with such a sense of urgency that the reader is frantically turning pages to discover who the murderer is. What more can you ask of a suspense novel? Highly recommended. Can’t wait to read more by this talented new novelist.
Shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for best unpublished first crime novel by the Crime Writers of Canada, Confined Space is already a winner in my book!

Another outstanding entry in the Halifax Public Libraries' collection of Canadian Mystery fiction (M).

Watch the very cool book trailer for Confined Space:

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