Saturday, October 29, 2011


Sitting Lady Sutra
By Kay Stewart
Touchwood Editions

RCMP Constable Danutia Dranchuk makes her second appearance in this new novel by Kay Stewart. The first one, A Deadly Little List, which Stewart co-authored with husband Chris Bullock, saw Const. Dranchuk, recently graduated from the academy. Now she’s stationed in Victoria, B.C. and recently named Special Investigator in trying to find a serial killer before more women are murdered.

The Sitting Lady of the title is the name of a waterfall just outside the city. It’s where the body of a teenaged girl is found after six months of decay. Nobody has reported her missing. Is she just one of many lost souls or a victim of Handy Dan, the nickname of the serial killer Dranchuk is tracking. Until that can be established, she must cooperate with Corporal Farrell from the West Shore division, not a happy situation for either woman.

Dranchuck works closely with Corporal Surinder Sharma, head of forensics, in searching for both the identity of the girl and her killer. His timely words of wisdom and quiet relentless methods help Dranchuk to focus her own skills. She’s invited to his home to celebrate Thanksgiving and the Hindu festival of Dussehra, where she meets his two sons and niece, an art student who has been estranged from the family for many years. The Sharma family stories and traditions weave a colourful texture into this police procedural. And we learn about the tragedy that beset the family decades ago in Toronto. But Dranchuk eventually has questions about Sharma’s handling of the case. She feels he’s dragging his feet but doesn’t know why.

Dranchuk’s own past becomes part of the story as she tries to deal with a secret from her youth.

The setting also plays a major role in the mystery. From Victoria’s bustling city streets to the haunting forests and wild streams of Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park, Stewart is a great travel guide and paints a vivid picture of this soulful place.

Sitting Lady Sutra is a well-written mystery with a solid plot and sub-plots that intertwine and surprise. Stewart knows how to write a compelling novel with dialogue that is sharp and believable, as are the characters. It’s always a pleasure to find a strong female protagonist who is also good at her job. Danutia Dranchuk is definitely one.

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