Monday, September 27, 2010


What is it about her? And him?

I am happily re-reading the first book in a British police procedural series that I really like: The Marx Sisters, the first Brock and Kolla book, by Barry Maitland. They are characters in a series I have followed for years. So my mind is on how important series are in the crime fiction world and how the essence of a successful series, for me, is character. I like to see the development of a protagonist, sure, but mainly I follow a series because each new book feels like I am checking in on someone I care about. In mysteries, these characters have usually had a few kicks in the teeth inflicted by their authors. We are a mean bunch. So with that in mind I am excited about two new books in Canadian series that I follow, both from the Prairies. Saskatchewan author Gail Bowen’s latest Joanne Kilborn, The Nesting Dolls, is out and receiving excellent reviews.

I feel that Joanne is an old friend, a person I like and admire and here she is again back for a visit. I do know she’s not real, but I forget that sometimes. Home, family, love, loyalty, and deeply moving takes on social issues, all these are woven through the Joanne Kilborn books. So welcome back, Joanne. Your life is always interesting and it will be very good to spend some time with you.

But not all Prairie sleuths are the same. Take Russell Quant, Anthony Bidulka’s engaging gay Saskatoon PI. Gotta love this guy, and not just because of his Ukrainian mom, his crew of friends and his ‘wonder pants’. Now where can I get a pair of those? Russell has terrific international adventures, exotic, intriguing, suspenseful and quite often hilarious. It goes without saying that these mysteries are very, very readable. They’re so entertaining that my reading policy is: Wherever Russell Quant is going, I’m coming along for the ride. In Date with a Sheesha, it’s reputed to be a whirlwind trip to Dubai, Oman, Saudi Arabia and … what? Back to a frozen field in Saskatchewan? Really? Sign me up! Can’t wait. I hope to get the book signed by Anthony at Bouchercon in San Francisco this year. There will be quite a good turnout of Canadian authors there.

So what Canadian mystery characters do you just have to read? And who are you waiting to meet again? What is it that draws you to them?

Mary Jane Maffini is a lapsed librarian, a former mystery bookstore owner and a lifelong lover of mysteries. In addition to the four Charlotte Adams books from Berkley Prime Crime, she is the author of the Camilla MacPhee series, the Fiona Silk adventures and nearly two dozen short stories. She served two terms as President of Crime Writers of Canada. She loves mysteries of all kinds and is enjoying the surge in Canadian crime (writing).

Her latest Charlotte Adams book is Closet Confidential (Berkley Prime Crime). She says she’s grateful for all the tips she gets from Charlotte and for the opportunity to write the series. She lives and plots in Ottawa, Ontario, along with her long-suffering husband and two princessy dachshunds. Visit her at


  1. i want another John Cardinal mystery - Giles? when is it out?

  2. I love Anthony's quirky characters and clever pots but I have to say my favourite Canadian series features the wisecracking Camilla McPhee and her infuriating sidekick Alvin.

  3. Yes...more Cardinal and McPhee, please! And how about that Arthur Beauchamp, from the pen of William Deverell...must have more, too. Someone we haven't heard from in a long time...and I Edward O. Phillips' wonderful Geoffry Chadwick.

  4. Just so you know, that last comment was really mine so , not to be outdone, I'll toss into the mix, Louise Penny's C.I. Gamache.

  5. I just finished Gail Bowen's latest, Nesting Dolls. Joanne is so in love with Zack. And Gail has infuriatingly placed lots of black clouds on the horizon of Joanne's happiness. Will certainly keep me waiting for the next . . . even if it IS 2 years from now!