SevenDaysDead

Auntie M met John Farrow, as author/playwright Trevor Ferguson calls his crime fiction incarnation, last fall at Bouchercon. She found there to be similarities between the tall, slender Canadian and his fiction counterpart, retired detective Emile Cinq-Mars. Perhaps Emile’s long, Gallic nose, of which much has been made by characters unable to avoid, is the character’s alone, but Auntie M is thinking more of the way both men are deep thinkers, prone to lapses into thought processes, and yet totally aware of their surroundings.

It’s no surprise that the first in the trilogy within the series focusing on extreme weather called The Storm Murders proved such a hit, with its action starting in a blinding whiteout snowstorm. This second, Seven Days Dead, takes readers with Emile and his wife Sandra to the island of Grand Manan, off the coast of Maine in New Brunswick during the high seas of a torrential storm in the summer.

They are not the only ones to make it to Grand Manan, a guardian of the Bay of Fundy. Maddy Orrock has been summoned from Boston to her dying father’s bedside. She’s hoping for answers to long-held questions during their estrangement and needs to be there before he passes, and is willing to risk a rough crossing to the island under the careful guidance of fisherman Sticky McCarran.

The Reverend Simon Lescavage has also been summoned by Alfred Orrock’s housekeeper at the command of the dying man. She escapes into the wind and rain of the storm as soon as he arrives, leaving the man to face his embittered companion for one last time.

These characters are only a few of the people Emile and Sandra will meet, a band of eccentric islanders with their own strange habits and customs, as they make their way to their rented cabin and indulge in a day or two of hiking and local food. And then a grisly murder is discovered, and soon a second one is feared, and Emile is asked to assist the local Mounties with their investigation.

Farrow does an excellent job of describing the setting and how that wildness is reflected in the people who live on the island. The isolated landscape, treacherous as it is beautiful, entices many to visit but few will stay, and those who do have developed a way of living that seems strange to outsiders. It will be down to Emile, an outsider looking in, to see his way into the motives and reasons for murder, but at what cost to him and Sandra?

Auntie M enjoys this series and the characters and relationship of Emile and Sandra. These are well-rounded people with their own feelings and lives, separate from the cases Emile often finds himself mired in. Each island character is well-drawn and distinctive, and the resolution of the case will find twists and surprises for the reader, as well as jeopardy to Emile and Sandra, before its solved. A literate thriller told in an atmospheric way with more than a hint of droll humor at times.

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