During New Talent November 2011 Canadian correspondent HoCam chose Robert Rotenberg, Ian Hamilton, Hilary Davidson, Robin Spano and John McFetridge as the new writers to watch. Since then we’ve seen them bringing out fine new books and Ian Hamilton won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel. Those were some pretty good picks. HoCam has moved on to bigger and better things but is still a friend of CFL so we invited him to write a similar column this year. Without further ado, these are the up and coming Canadian authors to watch in the coming 12 months…
This freelance journalist from Edmonton comes from an interesting background. Like his main protagonist Leo Desroches he’s the son of Cree and French-Canadian parents. The first book in Arthurson’s series is Fall from Grace and it sees Desroches writing a piece about a recently murdered Native Canadian prostitute. He’s a thorough researcher – to keep his gambling addiction at bay – and discovers similar unsolved cases. In Arthurson’s second book, A Killing Winter, Desroches enters similar territory. He’s writing about the homeless and a street kid he befriends is murdered.
In both books, Arthurson’s tight writing offers a realistic view of the First Nations’ culture and the distorted way in which the rest of the country sees them. Edmonton comes alive on the page and you’ll discover its dark side while following one of the most interesting and original new protagonists in Canadian crime fiction.
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Now we’re off to the capital, Ottawa, where former lawyer Peggy Blair lives. Shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger in 2010 she met Ian Rankin, who recommended she send the manuscript for her book to his agent. That book was The Beggar’s Opera and it sees Canadian detective Mike Ellis on holiday in Cuba, and his wife announces she’s leaving him. She goes home, he heads out for a drink and before you know it he’s been arrested for the murder of a local boy who was in possession of his wallet and passport. Inspector Ramirez is looking into the case, facing not just the country’s limited resources, but his own slowly progressing case of dementia. Then, there’s Dr Hector Apiro, former plastic surgeon now working part-time as the pathologist for the Major Crime Unit of Havana. Apiro was born with achondroplasia, better known as dwarfism. These characters represent the different sides of Cuba, a popular destination for Canadian tourists. It comes out next year in the UK.
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Hailing from Prince Edward Island, Owen Laukkanen now lives in British Columbia and 2012 saw the publication of his first novel, The Professionals. It received a great review here on Crime Fiction Lover and praise from established authors like Lee Child, John Sandford and Steve Berry. Twilight actor Robert Pattinson helped Laukkanen’s Twitter popularity by recommending the book as well.
The book is about four young friends who, seeing a bleak future due to the poor economy, decide to make quick money by kidnapping rich people and asking for ‘reasonable’ ransoms. As you’d expect, it works for a while until they kidnap the wrong men. Laukkanen wastes no words, convincingly transforming the four friends from 20-somethings to desperate criminals losing control in a deadly situation. Book two, Criminal Enterprise, is slated for publication next March.
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This Montreal-based antiquarian became a novelist with the publication of his first book, Bloodman, another title we’ve reviewed here on Crime Fiction Lover. Bloodman features FBI consultant Jake Cole, a specialist in tracking down serial killers. When Jake is called back home to Montauk on Long Island to take care of his ailing father, he finds himself on the path of one of the most vicious killers he’s ever encountered. A killer who seems to be linked to Jake’s past. At the same time, the storm of the century is approaching the island. Residents evacuate, but more bodies are found and Jake’s family is now in harm’s way. Pobi has created a troubled and brilliant protagonist not seen since profiler Will Graham in Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon. The pace is incredibly intense and the resolution of the plot becomes even more urgent as we learn about events from Jake’s childhood. Characters like Sheriff Hauser, Jake’s uncle Frank, and Spencer, an old friend who is now a cop, all bring a touch of normality and humanity to a twisted and disturbing and gory world. Watch for his next release Mannheim Rex, published this month. It’s about Mendelian genetics…
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Based on beautiful Vancouver Island, Chevy Stevens was selling real estate and dreaming of publishing her first book, Still Missing. It created a stir around the world, and has been followed by Never Knowing which has proven that Stevens is for real. In Never Knowing we meet Sara Gallagher who regularly sees her therapist attempting to deal with her past. She was adopted, and now wants to find her biological parents. What she discovers is shocking – her conception was through rape and her biological father is a serial rapist and murderer who’s never been caught. While the sociopath father tries to track Sara down, she worries that she’s inherited his violent genes. Should she meet with him and find out, or should she run as far away as possible? What’s the scariest part: finding out, or never knowing? The ‘therapist’ series will conclude with Always Watching in June, dealing with repressed memory syndrome.
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We thank Jacques Filipi for this article – don’t forget to visit him at House of Crime and Mystery.