HER BOOK OF SHADOWS by Larry D. Marshall
P.I. Scott Riker has been uprooted from the Southwest and transplanted to Québec City at the tail end of winter, so he has a fine appreciation for the nuances of weather. The story is told in the first person, so we hear his thoughts as he perambulates through his concerns. As an American anglophone, he introduces us to French Canadian culture in ways which joyfully celebrate its oddities and underscore his strangeness. He’s an outsider observing and his worldview is often sardonic and amusing. This story presents one element I particularly like in fiction: threaded through the story is meaningful commentary on our world by a strong character with a humble, appraising self-view. Piquant!
Scott’s new life as a private detective is not like his old life and, bit by bit, we find out why. Of particular interest is his absorption in preparing the evening meal and very titillating it is to read about, except his alarming treatment of shellfish. We are regularly waylaid by Scott’s sallies with excellent French pastries. His relationship with his wife is pleasant, but his exchanges with his daughter are exquisite.
This is a fabulous place to visit. True, there is murder and mayhem, but you were expecting that! Some real detection is done. The horrors are largely off-screen. Many characters are large and unique, and some are laughable. Most exchanges between characters are believable, save a very few occasions where some clumsiness crept in.
HER BOOK OF SHADOWS is a truly satisfying book.