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by Barbara Fradkin
Dundurn, September 2017
336 pages
$17.95 CAD
ISBN: 1459735404

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

True to her promise to set each story featuring Amanda Doucette in a different Canadian province or territory, Fradkin's second book in the series, THE TRICKSTER'S LULLABY, is located in Quebec, north of Montreal in the Laurentian mountains

In the first book, Doucette lived through a harrowing outback adventure in the wilds of Newfoundland with the help of her faithful dog, Kaylee, a Duck Tolling Retriever. She realizes that the challenge of that experience has helped her to deal with her PTSD. As an international aide worker during Nigeria's civil war, she witnessed terrible atrocities and is still recovering from the experience.

Doucette has agreed to lead a new project, a cross-country charity tour called "Fun for Families." She wants to share the benefits of what she learned about surviving in the wilderness by organizing adventure tours for families "to nurture joy and a sense of belonging." In this case, the "family" is a group of disadvantaged young people from different cultural backgrounds. Her premise is that coping with the elements can bring about instant bonding and bridge any distances in a disparate group.

With the help of experienced tour guides, she organizes a winter camping expedition near Mont Tremblant for twelve young people, mixing the challenges of winter with having fun learning winter sports. Zidane, an Islamic Youth counsellor who chose the participants, will also accompany the group outing. At the last minute, Doucette also accepts Canadian-born Luc Prevost, in spite of warnings about his temperamental behaviour and history of cocaine use. His mother pleaded with her that he needs this experience to help him straighten out. This decision is clearly going to cause problems and goes against the advice of both Zidane and Matthew Goderich, a journalist friend and supporter of Doucette's new venture.

On site at the winter camp, it becomes clear that there is some connection between Luc and Yasmina, a Muslim woman. The whole expedition starts to unravel when Luc vanishes, followed shortly thereafter by Yasmin's disappearance. When a report comes in that a body has been found nearby on a rarely-used road, Doucette realizes she needs the help of the Quebec Provincial Police. They are not too happy with her interventions as she has no accreditation as far as they are concerned and they are pursing possible drug dealers in the same area.

Through Goderich, she finds out that Sergeant Timko of the RCMP who helped her in Newfoundland, just happens to be in Montreal at a conference. As hinted in the first book, he has a personal interest in Doucette and so he rushes off to help her with this escapade as well.

Fradkin deftly handles the complications that arise because of the involvement that Luc and some of some of the Islamic youth have with a radicalizing mosque and a mysterious figure known as Abu Osama. But true to her character, Doucette's tendency to rush into action thinking she can solve the problems that arise is at the heart of these novels.

Ann Pearson is a photographer and retired college Humanities teacher who lives in Montreal

Reviewed by Ann Pearson, October 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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