My January reading round up will be a little smaller than most. It’s not that I’ve done less reading, it’s just that at Christmas, I received Niall Ferguson’s, Kissinger. I’m finding that it’s a fascinating book, but it’s very dense and it’s a lot of work trying to work my way through it. However, I did manage to work my way through four other books during January
January Book Reviews.
One of the most troubling aspects of the Anglican Church in Canada is the Indian Residential Schools. Set up in agreement between the Government of Canada, and several churches, these schools were designed to eradicate the original cultures of Canada’s Indigenous people and replace them with white, Christian values. The results have been devastating and long lasting. One of the most notable effects of this system is an ongoing suicide crisis among Indigenous youth.
As an Anglican priest, learning this history has been given a priority as part of our personal and professional development. Next September I will be taking a course called Indigenous Awareness. This is now part of the training for all priests in our diocese. In the meantime, I’m looking at various resources regarding some of the issues.
Talaga’s book is one such resource. It came out of the CBC Massey lectures, and deals with, not only the suicide crisis among Canadian Indigenous youth, but indigenous youth around the world. The book is sobering reading. the two things that come up over and over again is the unwillingness of governments to commit resources to combat this suicide epidemic. Many high flown speeches are given, but rarely is any concrete action taken. This is true, no matter which party is in power. One may talk better than another, but none put their money where their mouth is.
The second is that the colonial impulses that drove the residential schools in the first place still drive much of government policy. The book makes clear that nothing truly positive will happen to address the suicide crisis, until governments not only fund treatment facilities and prevention strategies, but allow indigenous people to build communities that are in keeping with their traditions, beliefs, and practices.
All Our Relations is alternately encouraging and depressing. It is encouraging to see indigenous communities finding new ways to address the issue of suicide in their communities, but depressing in the realization that governments, and yes churches will continue to get in the way of letting this happen.
January saw me winding up this Oscar Wilde series. . Brandreth has hinted that there might be more mysteries in the future, but it’s been several years since the last one was published, so I’m not holding my breath. Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders is actually the fifth of the sixth books in the series, but as the author has said, they don’t need to be in order.
This story is different in that Robert Sherrard, the narrator of the other novels doesn’t appear. Instead we get Wilde, and Conan Doyle, traveling to Rome. This happens after Conan Doyle receives some well preserved body parts addressed to his best known creation, Sherlock Holmes, the great, though fictional, consulting detective.
Once in Rome they are drawn into the inner circle of the pope’s chaplains.
The mystery revolves around the death of Pope Pius IX and the disappearance of a young girl named Agnes, on the day of Pius’s death. Each of the chaplains has their own, guilty secret. they may have violated several commandments, but is one of them a killer? As Wilde and Conan Doyle dig deeper, other bodies appear, until the killer is unmasked at the end.
Along the way, they run into other interesting historical characters such as, Alex Munthe, a Swedish doctor who was known as an early practitioner of Euthanasia, plays a major role in the story. They also run into a pair of Anglicans working and living in Rome, the Rev. Martin Sadler, and his sister Irene(that should twig something for Sherlock Holmes fans).
On the whole this has been a very engaging series, and I’m sorry it has come to an end. I highly recommend it for any fans of Oscar Wilde, detective fiction, and good writing in general.
This is the tenth book, and ninth full novel in the Inspector Gamache series. It begins with a woman driving through a traffic tunnel, dealing with her fears that the tunnel will collapse. Shortly after that the woman is found dead. At roughly the same time a mysterious old woman dies in Three Pines.
All the while the plot against Gamache in the Surête is reaching it’s climax. It turns out that Gamache has made enemies into the highest circles of Quebec power, right into the premier’s office. As this story builds the murder of the old woman ends up revolving around the story of the Ouellette Quints. A family iinspired by but not based on the Dionne Quints.
As the mystery unfolds, the story widens out, and many of the previously introduced characters, such as Yvette Nichols, and Therese, and Jerome Brunel, are drawn in. The action starts out broad but continues to narrow down, until at the end an potentially explosive showdown will take place in Three Pines,. Francouer, Gamache’s main foe, leads the hunting expedition where Gamache and his loyalists are the prey, but in the end it will all come down to the actions of Guy Beauvoir, Gamache’s estranged number 2.
How the Light Gets in, has a densely packed and swiftly moving plot. The seeming random death of the woman at the beginning of the book, turns out to be a vital piece of the puzzle. Meanwhile, while all of this is going on Penny, in the Ouellette mystery story also gives a compelling narrative on the meaning of family loves and hates.
I do hope that this installment does bring an end to the background political machinations of the series and allows the readers to get back to the tighter, intimate stories of Three Pines.
Expiration Date is the first novel in a new cozy mystery series featuring Sherry Frazelle. This series is built around cooking contests. Think regional versions of Top Chef. Expiration Date is pretty much a paint by number mystery. A recently divorced women, Frazelle, a high powered ex. A single, police officer, and the need for the protagonist to avoid a murder charge
The plot consists of the judge of at a cooking contest dying after being poisoned while judging the competition. Frazelle’s dish was the last one he tried, and so suspicion falls on her. Determined to clear her name she start digging and discovers a tangled web of relationships between the judges, other chefs, and the sponsors.
The plot is fairly predictable, with Frazelle constantly being reminded to leave the detective work to the police. As well, as she gets closer to the identity of the killer, she has a couple of close calls herself, In the end everything is wrapped up tightly and we are left to wonder what will be come of Frazelle and the policeman. For a first novel, Expiration Date is quite enjoyable.