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Bookends: The killer acts out of love December 28, 2018

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends, mystery, Uncategorized, Whitehorse Star.
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Bookends: The killer acts out of love

By Dan Davidson

January 2, 2018

The Calling 2

– 834 words-

The Calling

By Inger Ash Wolfe

(Michael Redhill)

Kindle Edition



400 pages in hard copy

The Calling is the first of the Hazel Micallef mysteries, which is what Michael Redhill has been writing on the side when he isn’t writing Giller Prize winning literary fiction such as Bellevue Square, the book I reviewed last week.

Micallef is the middle-aged detective inspector, and default acting chief of police in an Ontario town called Port Dundas. She has been acting for a few years simply because the make hierarchy in the system doesn’t want


to promote her. On the other hand, her immediate superior doesn’t want to put anyone else in the post permanently because he would like to close the detachment down and have the whole area covered regionally.

Micallef is divorced from her husband, with whom she still as a cordial relationship as a friend, much to the annoyance of his current wife. It was the job, more than anything else, that separated them. Hazel lives with her mother, a retired former justice.

Port Dundas doesn’t have much in the way of major crime, until a rather unique twist on the serial killer theme sweeps into town and cancer patient Delia Chandler, a woman who once had an affair with Hazel’s father.

It’s a strange case, from the point of view of the police. Della’s body was severely mutilated, but there’s no sign of a struggle and the post-mortem reveals that she died before all the damage was done. It was apparently a peaceful death, pretty much the sort of thing that one might hope for if one opted for euthanasia. Also, it was clear that Della was dying a slow and painful death. Oh, and the corpse has been exsanguinated. .

Of course, we knew this already, because we where there w


hen the killer arrived – by appointment – and went through the whole process with him and his victim, who was expecting him and had requested his services.

Had there just been one death in that jurisdiction, the police might never have caught on, but a few days later, and close enough that the local officers there call for help to Port Dundas, the mutilated body of an MS sufferer is found, liberally painted in blood, thought it, too, has been drained of its own, and forensic examination reveals the blood to be Della’s.

Someone is killing terminally ill people, and deliberately making it look like some sort of ritual serial spree.

We move back and forth between the killer and Hazel as this deadly game plays itself out. The man has been moving across the country> She realizes there must have been other bizarre deaths, all appearing to be slightly different, manages to work her way back to the beginning, figure out what’s going on – at least somewhat – and interrupt his pattern.

All of this does not happen without resistance from her superiors, who take quite some time to realize she is on to something. There is also d

issention within the ranks of her detachment that has to be dealt with.

And finally, with all kinds of twists as the book ramps up to its climax, we learn that things are not quite the complex mess we and Hazel had come to believe in. It’s weirder than that.

We spend enough time with the killer to feel certain sympathy for him. His motivation is a twisted kind of love, although not what it appears to be, and he is not quite who he seems to be, though its quite possible he no longer knows that.

The kind of narrative deceptions “Wolfe” uses in this book, the first of four released between 2008 and 2015, are very similar to those Redhill uses in Bellevue Park. There’s domestic turmoil, lots of interpersonal tension, and one of the points of view is clearly from an unreliable source.

That said, the mystery format, as L.R. Wright discovered many years ago in her Sunshine Coast series, does allow for space to create memorable characters while, as the same time, being somewhat more direct in the way a narrative reaches a conclusion.

Bellevue Parkis a jigsaw puzzle of a thriller, which seemed to me to leave some holes in the finished picture. Of course, Redhill says it is to be the first book in a trilogy, so there may be more closure to come.

The Callingwraps up its main story line, but leaves secondary narrative arcs that will probably send me to the next book in a month or so.

I picked this one up because Inger Ash Wolfe is one of the characters in Bellevue Park, a mystery writer who seems to have produced the Hazel Micallef series. I really haven’t figured out what the point of that was, yet, but I hope to find out eventually.

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