Inger Ash Wolfe's fantastic Hazel Micallef series - The Night Bell. I got my hands on a copy - and devoured it in two days. I will now be eagerly awaiting the fifth book!
The Night Bell takes us back to Port Dundas, Ontario and Inspector Micallef of the Ontario Police Service.
Wolfe employs one of my favourite narrative techniques in The Night Bell - past and present - with the resolution coming as the storylines finally fit together in the end.
We meet young Hazel in 1957 and get a glimpse into an unsolved crime from those days - the disappearance of a young Port Dundas girl. We also meet Hazel's adopted brother and get to see Hazel's mother Emily in her prime. (I really enjoy Emily's wicked sense of humour and caustic one-off's.) The present is 2007. Bones are found on a housing development site - are they human? Two residents of that housing enclave are found brutally butchered and a cop goes missing - or was he taken? And Hazel is told to back off, as the RCMP come in and take over the case.
Well, that's like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Hazel's temperament and drive simply won't let her accept that order. She's obstinate, intelligent, tenacious and not the easiest person to get along with. Hazel finds some wiggle room in the order and begins investigating the bones case on her own - with help from still recovering Sergeant James Wingate. Where that investigation takes them is a page ripped from today's newspaper headlines. As are the political machinations amongst the varying police forces.
New faces and old populate the pages of The Night Bell. The mysteries in Wolfe's books are always well-plotted, engaging and intriguing. But, it is the characters that have captured me. Wolfe pulls no punches in their personal lives - I'm both hopeful and worried about what the next book will bring. Hazel is nearing retirement age - but I really don't want to see the end of this series. I also enjoy the 'local' settings of Ontario, Toronto and the mythical but very vivid in my mind, Port Dundas.
This is such a fantastic series! Although you could read The Night Bell as a stand-alone, do yourself a favour and start from the beginning with The Calling. Read an excerpt of The Night Bell.