Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Darkness at the Stroke of Noon - Dennis Richard Murphy

Another fantastic Canadian mystery writer - one I was completely unaware of!

Ruby, recently widowed, wants out of the FBI. She takes a job with the AEI (Arctic Exploration Institute). Her first assignment is to travel to the Victory Point archaeological dig in Nunavut, Canada and accompany one of their scientists, who has made an unbelievable discovery in the Canadian Arctic, back to the U.S. At the same time, RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Sergeant Booker Kennison, who has been banished to the Yellowknife station for reporting corruption within the Mounties, is sent further north to Victory Point as well. It's supposed to be a routine assignment - document two accidental deaths at the Victory camp due to a fire. But it turns out to be anything but routine. The deaths are murder. And the discovery is unimaginable. It's an intact diary from the lost Franklin expedition, detailing their voyage. The information contained within could impact international borders and land rights.

The story flips between past and present. Murphy has done an amazing job in envisaging a diary of the Franklin expedition. This is a story on it's own. Back to the present - it's bitterly cold, the light is shorter every day, the food is running low and someone in the camp is a murderer.

Darkness at the Stroke of Noon is an action packed page turner. The choice of setting makes it a uniquely Canadian tale, as do the references peppered throughout the book - Tim Hortons and Canadian Tire. I laughed out loud at Ruby's view of Canadians...

"At forty-one, she didn't feel too old for a fight, although fighting Canadians seemed like the punch line of a bad joke. They were just French-speaking wannabe Americans who spent their winters in Florida getting melanoma until they ran home for free operations."

I enjoyed many of the supporting characters, especially the local doctor who acts as a coroner and her assistant. Their dialogue over the autopsy table is blackly humorous.

I finished the book and was hoping that this was to be the first of a series. Reading the back flyleaf I was saddened to find that Dennis Richard Murphy passed away just before publiction of Darkness at the Stroke of Noon.

Publisher Harper Collins Canada has produced a short radio drama with a view into Sergeant Kennison's world. You can listen to it here. Or read the first chapter here.


Marie said...

Great review! I recently finished the book and enjoyed it, too. My review is on my blog.

Your review made me think of all the things I forgot to write about, namely Ruby's reaction to Canadians and the Canadian Tire and Tim references.

Good job.

Cathy said...

This definitely sounds like my kind of book. Thanks so much for reviewing it and bringing it to my attention!

Darlene said...

This really does sound good Luanne. I always enjoy reading books set in Canada. It's fun to actually be able to recognize what you're reading about. How sad though that he has passed away. I'll have to check this one out. Thanks for a great review.

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Ladytink_534 said...

Neat! I enjoy stories (and TV shows) like this :)

Michele said...

Oh good find a great author and then find out that she passed away? Arghhhhhh! It does sound like a very good book, though, and the excerpts you chose are great!

Bingo Games said...

Really the great one. I really enjoyed this.
I enjoy stories (and TV shows) like this :)

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Colm said...

I loved this book! The story was brilliant. From present day language to going back into the language of the Journal felt like a true trip through the past. It is sad that Mr. Murphy will never put pen to paper and continue these characters!! Despite that, it's well worth the read!