A Writer to Remember

Canadian crime writer Michael Van Rooy, from Winnipeg, died in Montreal yesterday. He had just begun a tour to promote his most recent book "A Criminal to Remember". Michael, who was only 42, died of an apparent heart attack.

Published by Turnstone Press, in Canada, Van Rooy had been signed by St. Martin's Press, in the U.S. last year. He had a very promising career ahead of him.

His other books are "Your Friendly Neighbourhood Criminal" for which he was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award (for Best First Novel) and "A Very Decent Criminal". All three books revolve around Monty Haaviko, a friendly ex-convict trying to stay out of trouble.

Michael is survived by his wife and three children.

An Ordinary Decent Criminal

JF       27 January 2011

Laura Lippman's The Girl in the Green Raincoat

A novella by crime master Laura Lippman.

A modern twist on 'Rear Window' (this one could have been titled 'Front Window') Lippman's private investigator (from novels like 'Baltimore Blues' and 'By A Spider's Thread') Tess Monaghan is bedridden for the last two months of her pregnancy. When she gets bored (which is quite often for one who's usually very much active) she looks outside at the activity in the nearby park. Every day, she notices a woman in a green raincoat walking her dog. But one afternoon, the dog, with its leash still on and trailing on the ground, shows up alone. Sensing trouble, Tess decides to involve some of her friends in a search for the missing woman.
A simple plot, right? It's a novella after all and what can you do with barely 200 pages to fill? Tess (and friends) will find the woman, of course. But, if you've read other books by Laura Lippman, you know that it will be more than just a case of a missing woman: for example, the husband, whose previous wives died in tragic circumstances, claims that he's innocent and, what's more, a victim; also, his missing wife is actually the sister of one of his previous wives.

Even though it is a lighter read than some of Lippman's brilliant, emotionally charged stories, this novella is as fulfilling as many full-length novel out there. Plenty of rich and complex characters move the tightly-knit plot forward without giving the reader time to think. And why would you want to think when you're entertained in such clever ways. Don't get me wrong, this is not Lippman's best story (have you read 'What The Dead Know' or 'I'd Know You Anywhere'?) but you'll never be bored (won't have time to look out your window) and if you're not interrupted, you'll read it all in one sitting...on the edge of your seat.    

The Girl in the Green Raincoat: A Tess Monaghan Novel                              

(I've read an ARC from NetGalley)
JF   31 January 2011