Monday, December 12, 2011


Tell me it isn't so!

I fear it is so, though. And even worse, 'still'. I'm referring to Jeffrey Simpson's column in the Globe & Mail on Saturday, If you don't have time to read it, the short version is that Canadian writers 'get no respect'.

In Simpson's column he's focusing on Richard Gwynn's historical works about John A. Macdonald in particular. If these were published in the U.S., and about American statesmen, they would be best sellers. Not so, here in Canada. The less we know about our history, the better it seems. So, publish away. The sales will be to those history buffs who probably already know most of the story.

Ottawa crime writer C.B. Forrest wrote one of 177 comments posted to that column. He pointed out that this malady is one suffered by most Canadian authors, except for those household names, Atwood and Ondaatje know the list, I'm sure. And then there's the lowly crime writer. If you're Robinson or Bowen, your name commands instant recognition with the mystery lover reader. But what about with mainstream readers?

That could be because Canadian crime novels seldom appear on the books pages of our newspapers and magazines. What an amazing feat then that Elizabeth Duncan's latest
mystery, A Killer's Christmas in Wales, hit the Postmedia newspapers across the country on Saturday. Well done, Elizabeth. There MAY be hope for us all. But don't hold your breath. Forrest went on to point out that the Globe's 'top 11 crime books of 2011, listed only one Canadian.

Margaret Canon, Don Graves and a few others are still able to give prominence to Canadian crime and mystery books in their columns. Remember the days when there were double that number?

I keep coming back to this every few blogs or so...the message needs to get out there and it's up to the readers and writers to make sure that happens. I urge you to use your blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitters accounts to herald the fact that we have some excellent Canadian mystery and crime writers. Go ahead -- name names! Point the finger! Be a snitch.

And after you've read all those wonderful Canadian books you'll (hopefully) receive for Christmas, go on-line and post reviews. We can make this happen. And maybe next year at this time, I won't be blogging about this topic again!

Any suggestions as to what we can do?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming April, 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime


  1. People can also read Afterword online with Mark Medley at the National Post along with Margaret Cannon and Don Graves. Mark does a good job of covering Canadians too. So does Jim Napier if you are in Quebec. Make comments! If the newspapers see a jump in readership, either online or in papers bought, they might start paying attention. Part of the problem is our small population, but the other part is that we don't speak up enough. Use those social media outlets the way Linda says, people! Stand up for Canadians!

  2. Read the Simpson column, and it brought back a comment made to me by a student in my Communications class a few years ago. That it's hard to appreciate Canadian history when you just arrived in Canada a few years ago. I had no answer for that.
    To me, the dream is having an equal number of Canadian books on that bestseller list, and it not being an issue that they are Canadian! We can dream.

  3. Thank you for the mention, Linda. I have no idea how or why this happened ... the usual combination of luck and timing, I guess.

  4. Jim Napier reviews Canadian authors, not just Quebec ones. He gave A Killer's Christmas in Wales a great review and like Don Graves in Hamilton, has been very supportive of Canadian mystery writers and increasing awareness of who we are and what we do.