By Gail Bowen
McClelland & Stewart
By this point in her career, Gail Bowen’s books shouldn’t need reviews. But that’s what’s expected, so I can unequivocally say that Kaleidoscope, book #13 in the Joanne Kilbourn series, is every bit as excellent as you’d expect!
That Bowen knows Joanne inside out by this point is undeniable. But she also gives us subtleties that show she’s just as into Zack Shreve and Taylor and Meika and the boys also. These characters have been woven into the growth of the Joanne Kilbourn character and become as familiar to us as she is. And now that Joanne has retired from her career as a University professor in Political Science, we enter that new phase of her life…and find another body or two.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Joanne is always drawn into at least one murder in each book. The word ‘drawn’ is key here. Because Bowen takes her time easing the reader into the harsh realities of murder. She wants us to become familiar with all the players, to have a vested interest in what’s going on before tragedy strikes. It helps put everything in context. Although, I admit, a murder has been committed before the story opens. It’s the second one that shapes this story. We can feel it coming on just like a summer storm tracking into the city. That’s because Bowen is a master at suspense, making a normal step feel like another step towards the precipice.
The journey starts with the first murder of a worker at a building site in one of Regina’s rougher areas. The two warring gangs have been convinced to join forces as the Warriors to put a stop to the gentrification. A splinter group, the Red Rage takes it to a violent level. Shortly after Joanne and her lawyer husband Zack have dinner with his client, Leland Hunter, the urban developer responsible for the project, their house is bombed.
Then she finds out her eldest daughter, Meika is involved with one of Joanne’s former grad students, Riel Delorme. He’s turned into a firebrand and the vocal leader against the development.
The past returns as the death of her first husband re-surfaces and she must deal with a series of frightening events culminating in a murder that shakes Joanne to the core. Her life is turned upside down and will never be the same. But, as Joanne so succinctly put it on the front of a Tshirt she orders for the widow, 'Being Strong is the Only Option'.
If you’re a Gail Bowen fan, enjoy! If you’re new to her, enjoy catching up with the previous twelve books! You won’t be sorry.