Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Read a mystery and travel.

I’ve been an avid mystery reader since I was a child. And one of the aspects that attracted me to crime fiction was I got to travel without having to move from the comfort of my chair. I traveled to England with Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, to France with Georges Simenon , to China with Robert van Gulik and to Mediterranean Islands with Dorothy Dunnett. On a cold winter’s day, I loved nothing better than to visit the sun-filled beaches of Florida with John D. MacDonald or a sweltering Louisiana bayou of a James Lee Burke novel.

But I wasn’t able to visit the far-flung delights of my own country, Canada, for there were few Canadian mystery writers available in my early reading days. But within the last fifteen years or so Canadian Crime writing has finally come into its own with a hundred or more established writers and new ones emerging everyday.

Now I can visit the rainforests of Vancouver Island in a Lou Allin novel, the seamy side of Vancouver with Michael Blair, the heady gold rush days of the Yukon with Vicki Delany, the flat prairie of Saskatchewan with Anthony Bidulka and Gail Bowen, 19th century Toronto with Maureen Jenning’s Inspector Murdoch or a northern Ontario town with Giles Blunt. I particularly enjoy visiting my own city of Ottawa through the eyes of Barbara Fradkin’s Inspector Green or Mary Jane Maffini’s Camilla MacPhee. And the cross Canada traveling doesn’t stop, but continues into small town Quebec with Louise Penny and on to Newfoundland through the eyes of Thomas Rendell Curran’s Inspector Eric Stride.

When I set out to write the Meg Harris mystery series, I decided I wanted my readers to travel too, perhaps to a place they’d never been to before or to one they knew well and wanted to revisit. Deciding on the destination was easy. It was where I spend half my time; in the wilds of West Quebec, where lakes out number people a thousand to one and trees a million to one.

I’ve always had a particular fondness for the Great Canadian Outdoors having spent many a childhood summer vacation at friends’ cottages, camping with my father or attending summer camp. I’ve since graduated to multi-day canoe trips along both rushing and still waterways, hiking along forested trails and in winter, skiing through silent, snow-drenched woods. I wanted to bring its magic alive to my readers, have them hear the haunting laugh of a loon on a still summer night, the chilling howl of a lone wolf or feel a frisson of fear at a sudden strange sight in the depths of a dark forest.

In the Death’s Golden Whisper, the first book in the Meg Harris series, I have my readers experience the vibrancy of a Quebec fall in full autumnal regalia. In Red Ice for a Shroud, you can shiver along with Meg as her world turns to ice during a once-in-a-lifetime Ice Storm. Or you can come paddling with Meg in The River Runs Orange, as she battles the swirling whitewater of a rapid filled river. In the fourth book, Arctic Blue Death, Meg travels to Canada’s Far North, where you can experience days of endless sunlight on the bleak, rocky tundra of Baffin Island.

In the next Meg Harris mystery, A Green Place for Dying, to be released in Spring 2011, Meg returns to her isolated West Quebec cottage, Three Deer Point, overlooking the crystal clear waters of Echo Lake. Through Meg’s eyes, you will experience the mysticism of a moon-filled night as you sit by the lake in a ceremonial circle, listening to the chants of an Algonquin elder. Your nostrils will tingle with the smudge of burning sweetgrass, while your eyes will follow the moon’s shimmering path over the water.

So if you feel like a bit of traveling, read a mystery novel, preferably a Canadian one and enjoy.

Described by the Ottawa Citizen as “one of the best new voices in the
mystery business”, Ottawa author, RJ Harlick, writes the Meg Harris
mystery series set in the wilds of West Quebec. And like her heroine
Meg Harris, RJ loves nothing better than to roam the forests
surrounding her own wilderness cabin or paddle the endless lakes and
rivers. But unlike Meg, she doesn’t find a body at every twist and
turn, although she certainly likes to put them in Meg’s way. There
are currently four books in the series. The fifth, A Green Place for
Dying, will be published in Spring 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Clever suggestions for some Canadian armchair traveling. Thanks, Robin! Looking forward to the upcoming Meg Harris, too.