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Murder in the Chilcotin Paperback – October 9, 2006
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About the Author
ROY INNES is a retired eye physician and surgeon whose penchant for the arts, buried for years in the world of science, was rekindled upon retirement. His first novel, Murder in the Monashees, was released in 2005; Inspector Coswell's exploits continued in 2008 with West End Murders. Innes is an avid hunter, a lover of classical music, and, despite his skinny frame, a gourmand. He lives on British Columbia's lush Gabriola Island with his wife Barrie and his daughter's cat.
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There are not too many novels set in British Columbia so this series is a wonderful treat. The Cariboo Chilcotin region of BC is incredibly beautiful. Rolling hills are the setting for ranches, lakes full of fish have fishing lodges and camps for every price range, wildlife abounds and the rugged mountains are enchanting. This region also is home to a large number of First Nations peoples who still harbour resentments toward the descendants of settlers who seemingly took over their region and forced their laws upon them. Innes also touches on the scourge of the pine beetle that has plagued and decimated BC's forests.
It is in this fascinating landscape that the Murder in the Chilcotin is set. The First Nations people who live in Anahim Lake are set against the ranchers and the people of William's Lake (Willy's Pond) right off the bat with the murder of an RCMP officer on native land. As the bodies begin to pile up Coswell, Blakemore and newly deputized local native Richard Delorme realize that vengeance runs deep and the past lives on in the Chilcotin. Innes is obviously very familiar with the area and its issues. There is hunting, tree harvesters, tree planters, hippies, and hidden marijuana crops.
Great writing and a great story make this a great read. As authors such as Tony Hillerman exposed the realities of the Navaho Reservation to mystery readers, Roy Innes has brought the Anahim Ulkatcho Reserve to life for his readers. Highly recommend this excellent mystery crime novel!
Murder in the Chilcotin is a terrific police procedural that combines hi-tech investigative techniques in an old world environment. Cultural clashes, colorful local history, eccentric personalities, and contemporary crime issues create a rich and complex mystery that reminds me of a Tony Hillerman novel. If you're interested in a richly textured whodunit, then read this book.
One of Canada's most seasoned professional crime authors and a fine gentleman of the old school, Roy Innes surpasses his high standards with each novel. This time he sends his Vancouver RCMP inspector to the wilds of British Columbia to the fabled Chilcotin region aka West Cariboo. Mountie Coswell and his sergeant Blakemore face an ugly situation with a young constable found dead in his burnt-out cruiser. It's no secret that there's a jurisdictional war going on with the clumsy and crass local tribal sheriff impeding their investigation. With hostile factions splitting the town and secrets around every corner, it's not going to be easy to learn the truth.
A young native police intern with a winning attitude joins them to help bridge some of the gaps between the two worlds. In this wild and beautiful territory, life hasn't changed much in a hundred years. It's ranching, timber, trapping, and mining. Racism is alive and well, and it's a double-edged sword.
The two local thugs tapped for the crime are long gone into the bush. Instead of cruisers on roads, old-fashioned horseflesh gallops to the rescue until a helicopter can be called in. And in this green and blue paradise of lakes, pastures, and mountains, marijuana grow-ops are nibbling on the edges, one way to pay the bills. The stakes are small, but the competition brutal. It's not long before another body or two complicate the matter. Forensic evidence is a different matter when weather can tip the scale.
Innes is known as an experienced moose hunter, and it's evident in this vivid depiction of a raw and beautiful country. He's more than familiar with the terrain in northern BC, as well as the language and rules at the back of the beyond. Innes draws in the reader from paragraph one: "Ravens wheeled above the gravel road, screaming their displeasure at one another, fighting for dominance over this tiny bit of Cariboo sky. A half-kilometre south lay B.C. Highway 20, a strip of asphalt running halfway across the province from Williams Lake to the Pacific coast. A curl of smoke rose on the western horizon from a small gypo mill....It was too soon for the smell of death to reach the great black birds, but the inert form lying on the road below held promise for them." In the forest, something is either having dinner, or it is dinner.
A man of great common sense and a subtle sense of humour, Coswell has a commitment to his job wherever it takes him and despite what enemy he may face. He's gentle with those whom he respects like the elderly native grandmother but tough with others who walk on the bad side of the law.
Coswell is growing as a character in each adventure as his creator flexes his muscles as a novelist. Western Canada is fortunate to have this compelling and talented voice.