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by Lou Allin
RendezVous Crime, September 2011
280 pages
$16.95 CAD
ISBN: 1926607074

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In this second in Lou Allin's new series, RCMP Corporal Holly Martin has become more comfortable in her new surroundings than when she first arrived in Vancouver Island. Her remit is much more a matter of community policing than high-powered crime busting in the resort area of Fossil Bay, near Sooke, BC. And so, when she pauses on her patrol to come to the aid of driver with car trouble, she does not merely help the woman on her way, but also gives her aid and comfort as she seeks to get to the hospice where her partner lies dying.

Her next call brings her to a kind of homeless encampment where she encounters its unofficial mayor, an ex-lawyer who maintains a reasonable standard of order among its semi-transient population. She'll have to return there in short order when a body is discovered, dead of an apparent drug overdose, by a party of geocachers.

Holly lives at her father's house, real estate prices being what they are even in Sooke. He's a mildly eccentric professor of Popular Culture who spends weeks at a time living out the fads of various decades. It's a predilection which occasionally involves lime Jell-O and Miracle Whip. Her mother, a lawyer, an activist, and a Coastal Salish Native, disappeared without a trace ten years ago. Now that Holly has been posted back to the area in which she grew up, she hopes finally to be able to discover what happened to her mother so long ago.

The narrative proceeds at a leisurely pace, appropriate to the laid back rhythms of the island. Along the way, we are treated to Allin's characteristically informative remarks about the beauties and dangers, the social norms, and the quirky types who populate the region.

Lou Allin lived for years in a very different part of Canada and her previous series, starring Belle Palmer and set in northern Ontario, expressed a deep appreciation for the natural scene, even when it was less than hospitable. Now she has relocated to the gentler climate of Vancouver Island and, if her new protagonist is anything to go by, seems to be settling in well. Her fans can look forward to a continued exploration of the country and in time, we hope, a resolution to the mystery how and why Holly's mother disappeared.

Yvonne Klein is a writer, translator, and retired college English professor who lives in Montreal.

Reviewed by Yvonne Klein, March 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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