Monday, September 20, 2010


Beautiful British Columbia: Will you ever feel safe there again?

There’s never been a better time to tour Canada. You don’t have to have vacation built up or a pile of cash. You can get to know the country mystery by mystery: geography, local colour, social issues, it’s all there. I’ve had some very satisfying visits recently. Here are a few hotspots that kept me awake nights on the west coast. Turns out British Columbia is not only a spectacular province to visit, it’s nicely dangerous too.

Last week I mentioned L.R. Wright and her wonderful books set in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast. They broke new ground for sure, but this past year I have enjoyed many other wonderful BC mysteries. Here’s a sampling from the ‘recently read and enjoyed’ section of my bookcase.

There’s lots of great water on the B.C. coast and it’s a great medium for real crimes as well as fictional mysteries. Lou Allin introduces R.C.M.P. Corporal Holly Martin in And On the Surface Die in Fossil Bay, on Vancouver Island. This is Holly’s first detachment. Talk about getting her feet wet. From the gripping initial scenes when the body of a high school girl is found on the shore, you feel the connection that Lou has with her environment. You are there. It was nice of her to toss in a typhoon too. Lou fostered a tremendous sense of place in the Belle Palmer mysteries in Northern Ontario. She continues that tradition in this terrific new series and setting. Find out more at

A few years ago, Linda Wiken introduced me to the Silas Seaweed series by Stanley Evans. Silas is a Coast Salish police officer in Victoria. He used to be a detective and now he is a street cop. That tells us right up front that Silas is not the best-behaved lad on the force, but he is an engaging character and he gets the jobdone. What the hell, rules are made to be broken. In Seaweed on Ice, the plot blends native spiritual experiences and art stolen from German Jews during World War II, making for a fascinating and tricky combination. I’ve now read the first two and plan to read all the books in the series. Check them out at

B.C. has more than just coastline. Think about all those mountains and mountain towns, with their quirky citizens. Vicki Delany sets her Constable Molly Brown series in Trafalgar, B.C. I started with Valley of the Lost and it was a very engaging read. I get a real kick out of Molly’s mother, Lucky. What can I say about Lucky? She’s a fiftyish radical with a sex life and an attitude and a hate-on for the police. She’s not too happy her daughter is a probationary constable. As if Molly’s probationary period wasn’t tricky enough, there’s a dead young woman, a missing baby, and departmental politics. As a bonus, Vicki Delany has other series as well as ‘stand-alone’ books. You may find a goldmine at

As well as being excellent mysteries, all these books have a fresh approach, appealing settings and a chance to get your heart rate up. Speaking of all that, you can schmooze with these and many other Canadian crime writers and readers from across the country at Bloody Words in June 3 – 5th, 2011 in beautiful Victoria B.C. Be there. The rest of us will be.

Mary Jane Maffini rides herd on three, soon to be three and a half, mystery series. You can check them out at


  1. Great suggestions. I've also enjoyed all of these. Another one, from 2005 was Alex Brett's Cold Dark Matter, set mainly at UBC, with a great boat chase scene off Bowen Island, if I remember correctly.

  2. I get a big kick out of Vicki Delany's quirky characters and tight plots and I've been reading and loving Lou Allin's books since Belle's early adventures in Northern Ontario. But no list of authors who set their mysteries in BC would be complete without the clever and witty William Deverell. He kills me!