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by Rosemary Aubert
Berkley Prime Crime, January 2001
272 pages
ISBN: 0425177998

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When Ellis Portal was an esteemed Canadian judge something happened to cause him to leave his profession, family and life to become one of the many homeless souls to which we have all become accustomed. At times he has lived on the street in cardboard boxes; at other times he has had enough money to rent a room As this novel opens he is living a long deserted government complex. Through some fluke the government courier still arrived with mail for folk long gone; on a cold November day the courier drops off a letter addressed to him. It is somewhat unsettling since it appears to be a death threat, but at first he convinces himself that is means nothing. On the same day, and very shortly after receiving this threat an old friend from the streets, who has a friend who was murdered following a similar threat, turns up at the hatchery where he lives. He agrees to return to Toronto.

The homeless are constantly in our news, in front of our eyes and as characters in novels and television shows, but never before have I found one as the protagonist of a mystery story. It is a fascinating premise and works very well. The author pushes our suspension of belief by some of the ways in which former justice gets into places where he should not be, but she is clever enough to keep us reading anyway. Personally, I am more attracted to books where the characters are full dimensional and where the dialogue appears effortless, not stilted-in fact either one these areas done poorly can ruin a book for me. Miss Aubert does a good job with both characterization and dialogue; as I stated above parts of the plot stretch our imaginations, but I would recommend this book as a good read and would definitely be attracted to other books in this series.

Reviewed by Martha Hopkins, August 2001

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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