Oh, it has been waaaay too long since the last book by Inger Ash Wolfe in this absolutely wonderful Canadian series! My copy of A Door in the River arrived - I set it aside and picked the day I would read it. Yes, the one day, because I absolutely knew I wouldn't be able to put it down. (And I was right!)
A Door in the River again returns us to Port Dundas, Ontario and Inspector Hazel Micallef. Hazel is a wonderfully different protagonist - one I cannot get enough of. She is sixtyish, lives with her eighty eight year old mother (who is great character on her own - her snappy comebacks are priceless), has just recovered from back surgery (she recuperated in the basement of her ex husband and his new wife) and has finally kicked her addiction to pain pills, although whiskey still calls to her. She is obstinate, intelligent, tenacious and not the easiest person to get along with. But is she a good cop? Yes, but her talents will be tested with this latest case.
"The force of her will and her peculiar way of building evidence for a case was something to see. He understood why she'd driven Ray Greene crazy. And in the end you had to agree with her! There was no way you were going to make your own logic as internally consistent as hers. Supposedly this was "instinct". He'd never really seen it. Too bad she wielded it like a mallet."
A local all round good guy is found dead behind a native smoke shop on reservation land. The local band police investigate and do an autopsy. Death is ruled accidental - anaphylactic shock by a wasp sting. But Hazel knew the man and can't help but wonder why he was on the reserve late at night - he didn't smoke, the store was closed and why was he parked back in the shadows? And so she decides to re-examine their findings. And of course she ruffles some feathers. But what she turns up....
Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! The plot is an absolute nail biter. The tension was so high, I had a very hard time the last eighty pages not turning to the end to see what happened. I managed not to - and I'm glad I didn't. There are some twists I didn't see coming and I was lulled into a false sense of security by the last few pages. (Happily) Caught unawares again.
Now, the crimes are dreadful, (but really, could have been taken from newspaper headlines) so gentler readers be warned.
But for me it is the characters that make this series. For all her irascibility, Hazel does have some soft spots. And Detective James Wingate, is one of them. He is a gentler, calming influence on Hazel's team. James was introduced in the previous book and again takes a primary role in this book. Really, all of the characters come across as real and the dialogue is believable. You'll love to hate the bad guys.
It's so great to see a series set in Canada - and this is one of my all time favourites. Highly recommended. Read an excerpt of A Door in the River.
There are lots of sub plots that hint at a continuation of this series. Hazel's previous deputy has returned as her superintendent, the force is being amalgamated and Port Dundas itself is slated for radical changes. I can't wait to read the next book.
For the first two books, the true identity of Inger Ash Wolfe was a mystery. Names of Canadian authors were bandied about, but "The Real Inger Ash Wolfe Stands Up" at last.