Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Is there anything more spectacular than the Nahanni River in Canada’s Northwest Territories? A world Heritage site and a National Park Reserve, it has some of the most incredible natural diversity and scenery in the entire world. Miles and miles of wilderness with canyons, whitewater, waterfalls, hot springs, lazy, meandering flat water, and ragged glacial mountains. It is home to caribou, grizzlies, swans, eagles, mountain goats and sheep. Brilliant pink wild flowers cling to its gravel shores, while alpine meadows and jagged spruce forests rise up the slopes around it.
Why am I going on like this? Because this is the setting for my next Inspector Green novel. Yes, that’s Ottawa Police Inspector Michael Green, the inner city boy who loves crumbling asphalt and diesel fumes, and who struggles to learn the suburban “dad” skills of mowing the lawn and firing up the barbeque. Inspector Green is going on the Nahanni.
Only one thing could possibly pry him loose from his safe urban world and send him up into one of the last true wildernesses on earth. One of his children has disappeared. His spirited, independent daughter Hannah has gone on a wilderness canoe trip down the Nahanni with a group of friends, and they have failed to show up at their take-out point.
Canoeing the Nahanni has always been a dream of mine, but with the tight timeline of this book and with this summer (not to mention this year’s budget) already spoken for, I will have to content myself with researching from afar. Luckily I have been on a wilderness rafting trip in the Yukon, a very different river and a raft instead of a canoe, but at least I have scanned the distant slopes in search of mountain sheep and watched a grizzly prowl along the gravel shoreline in search of food. I have seen the wild flowers and heard the rush of river current. Along with my research, those memories will have to do.
Does it work? We'll all find out when the new Inspector Green novel, The Whisper of Legends, is released in April, 2013.
Barbara Fradkin is a child psychologist with a fascination for how we turn bad. In addition to her darkly haunting short stories in the Ladies Killing Circle anthologies, she writes the gritty, Ottawa-based Inspector Green novels which have won back to back Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Novel from Crime Writers of Canada. The eighth in the series, Beautiful Lie the Dead, explores love in all its complications. The ninth, The Whisper of Legends is due in April. And, her Rapid Read from Orca, The Fall Guy, was launched last year.