Don Gutteridge, Turncoat

Well, that was unexpected. I didn't think I'd find the book club's next Random House book to be the next dud, but there you go.

And if I was to be polite, I probably shouldn't call Don Gutteridge's Turncoat a dud. It's a heart-in-the-right-place detective novel with a reasonable toehold on Canadian history, and that's not a bad thing in itself. Maybe it'll Get The Kids Reading, and it'd be nice if people learned a little more about WIlliam Lyon Mackenzie (rather than just WLM King), and it's nice to get some perspective on life in 1830s Canada. Other than the griping of those meanies Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill, of course.

Gutteridge seems genuinely like a good guy. But most of the women are sexualized caricatures, the prose is pedestrian, the violence cartoonish, the hero's exposition of his solving the mystery painfully long (and inexplicably NOT met with violence from the unbelievably patiently listening villain). Honestly, I'm not recommending Turncoat to anyone.

Apparently Gutteridge has written a dozen of these Marc Edwards novels now, though I can only find about four of them online, so maybe the other eight remain in the pipeline. Maybe mystery readers like this sort of thing; I'm definitely not a mystery reader, so I'm no judge, but mystery readers, I'm not going to love you if you tell me how impressed you were by this one.

(Oddly, one of the blurbers blogged about how pleased he was that his comment made it onto the book's cover. Maybe I'm the only one who finds it odd. Odd, if that's true.)


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