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Bookends: Legal matters and creature features October 15, 2015

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: Legal matters and creature features

By Dan Davidson

March 11, 2015

– 743 words –APRIL FOOL

April Fool

by William Deverell

McClelland & Stewart

448 pages

Kindle edition

$8.99

When I met William Deverell some years ago at one of the Young Authors Conferences, I commented on the range of mystery/thriller tales I had enjoyed by him and he told me he didn’t like to repeat himself. With April Fool, he found a way to repeat the use of a earlier character and setting while telling a different kind of story, so I suppose, lawyer that he is, he managed to find a loophole. Both of these books won the Arthur Ellis Award for best Crime Novel in the year they appeared and that’s a high recommendation without me saying anything.

Arthur Beauchamp (say Beechum) was introduced to us in Trial of Passion back in 1997. It would be six years (2003) before Deverell visited him again. By then Beauchamp had retired from his legal practice and has married Margaret Blake, organic farmer and environmental activist. They live on Garibaldi Island, where the former legal eagle has taken up farming as a retirement hobby.

When Margaret literally goes up a tree to protest a developer’s plans for some local forest land, Arthur finds himself pressed into service to assist the local environmental group in protecting the planet.

At the same time, he is approached on behalf of a former client, the defendant in one of the few cases he ever lost, who has been accused of murdering a woman in very cold blood. Arthur was still convinced that Mick “the Owl” Faloon (who is an excellent thief, but not at all violent) was railroaded on his sexual assault conviction years earlier and feels he owes him a second chance, so he takes on that case as well.

Beauchamp is full of doubts about both parts of his life at this point. With Margaret 50 feet up in a tree platform with other men for weeks on end, will his marriage survive the separation? Has he been away from the courtroom too long to be able to function at his best in either case? What is he to do when Faloon manages to escape custody and embarks on a crime spree overseas?

It is a while before Arthur hits his stride, assisted by a spunky young woman law student (a former actress) and another young lawyer who happens to be blind. They make an interesting team.

The book is like a head-on collision between Perry Mason and Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Deverell has been shortlisted for the Leacock Award a couple of times). There’s courtroom drama, hotel hi-jinx, moments of dead seriousness and others of slapstick comedy. Most of the time we are looking at the world through Arthur’s eyes, but we spend some time with Faloon as well – comic relief in the midst of travail.

Deverell apparently found himself with a rich vein of stories in the career of Arthur Beauchamp, and has gone on to produce three more novels using the character since this one: Kill All the Judges, Snow Job, I’ll See You in My Dreams and Sing a Worried Song.

I haven’t read any of them, but probably will now that Arthur and I are reacquainted.

Creature Features

By Steve Jenkins and Robin PageCreature Features

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

32 pages

$22.99

The husband and wife team of Jenkins and Page have come up with an interesting idea in this book. They’ve picked 25 animals with odd facial features and presented us with their faces, using a method called cut and torn paper collage, which exaggerates the oddities somewhat.

The text asks each creature a question about why it looks that way and then provides a response from the creature.

“Dear Egyptian vulture” Why no feathers on your face?

“Are you sure you really want to know? Really? Okay, I’ll tell you. I stick my nose into the bodies of dead animals that I eat, and feathers would get pretty messy …”

Not all the responses are that gross, but that is the Q&A tone of the text.

At the end of the book there is a two page graphic section showing the relative sizes of the creatures as compared to humans, where they can be found in the world, and what they eat.

It’s an informative little book and one that should appeal to its target age group.

-30-

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