DEATH OF A LESSER MAN
by Thomas Rendell Curran
It's been a couple of years since Inspector Eric's Stride's last outing in The Rossiter File, and his long-awaited return was well worth waiting for. That same sense of place, St. John's, Newfoundland, just after World War II but still prior to joining Confederation, is here. Stride is the justice-seeking cop we know, driving his sporty MG around town, his married lover still in the picture, a thorough, meticulous guy who goes the extra distance to get the job done.
In this, the third Stride novel, the body of a veteran of the Great War is found late one night in the park, close to Stride's residence. The circumstances are puzzling -- Stride himself heard two shots but three bullets are found in the body during the autopsy. And, given the forensic evidence (such as they were at the time), did Harrison Rose, the victim, know his killer?
Stride follows the trail to the government offices, that's Her Majesty's representatives in the pre-Confederation Newfoundland. And from there, to Rose's business affiliations and his former comrades in arms during the war. The details of the various battles and the contributions of the Newfoundland Regiment add texture to the novel. There's much secrecy and apparently lots of motives abound. And to add to all the confusion, Stride also has to contend with upheaval in his personal life plus the arrival of the deceased's daughter.
The ending is a bittersweet one, justice is tempered with compassion, and old secrets are viewed and laid to rest.
Curran has a wonderful writing style, at once descriptive and sparse. If labels are needed in this genre, then Death of a Lesser Man would be a Literary Mystery. The pacing, the suspense, the puzzle are present...the writing, engaging. Readers who enjoy history along with their police procedural will not be disappointed.
If you want to start back at the beginning, the first Eric Stride novel is Undertow.
The Ottawa launch for Death of a Lesser Man is being held at Collected Works Book Store, 1242 Wellington St., on Wed., May 18th at 7 p.m. All are welcome!