|Brad Smith - One -Eyed Jacks (2000)|
Tommy was standing there without a drink along that last bit of bar. End of the line, Lee thought, where else would she find him? She stopped in front of him, almost as tall as him in her pumps, knowing full well that everybody in the joint was watching her and not giving one thin damn.
She could only stand there a moment though, and then she had to touch him; she put her arms around his neck and her cheek next to his, just to feel him after all this time, to smell him after all these years. And then he put those hams of his around her and they stayed like that, not saying anything, for maybe a minute.
Finally she put her lips against his neck and then on his mouth and she stepped back to look at him again.
"Oh, you goddamn mick," she said. "Where you been?"
At 35, Tommy Cochrane is a washed-up boxer who missed out on a shot at the heavyweight title and has to hang up his gloves for good when he's diagnosed with an aneurysm. His best friend and former sparring partner, T-Bone Pike, isn't in great shape either as the two of them head to Toronto on a quest for the $5,000 Tommy desperately needs to buy back his grandfather's farm.
In the big city, Tommy and T-Bone encounter an intriguing cast of characters operating on the questionable side of the tracks. Fat Ollie runs the weekly poker game on Queen Street; Buzz Murdoch gives Tommy a job as a doorman at the Bamboo club; Herm Bell is a sharp kid on a run of luck; and Tony Broad is a small-time hood with big-time ambitions and a seedy sidekick named Billy Callahan. There's also Lee Charles, a sharp, cynical, smart-mouthed torch singer, who happens to be Tommy's ex-girlfriend.
In the tradition of James Ellroy, Brad Smith has readers instantly embroiled in a quick-paced plot that involves guns and money, good guys and bad guys, double and triple crosses, and an exciting, suspenseful payoff. An unerring tradition of '50s Ontario, rich in local colour and with the kind of crackling dialogue that drives an Elmore Leonard novel,One-Eyed Jacks is a great read that opens up the underbelly of Toronto the Good.
|Howard Shrier - Buffalo Jump (2008)|
Toronto investigator Jonah Geller is at a low point in his life. A careless mistake on his last case left him with a bullet in his arm, a busted relationship and a spot in his boss's doghouse. Then he comes home to find notorious contract killer Dante Ryan in his apartment not to kill him for butting into mob business, as Jonah fears, but to plead for Jonah's help.
Ryan has been ordered to wipe out an entire Toronto family, including a five-year-old boy. With a son of his own that age, Ryan can't bring himself to do it. He challenges Jonah to find out who ordered the hit. With help from his friend Jenn, Jonah investigates the boy's father a pharmacist who seems to lead a good life and soon finds himself ducking bullets and dodging blades from all directions. When the case takes Jonah and Ryan over the river to Buffalo, where good clean Canadian pills are worth their weight in gold, their unseen enemies move in for the kill.
|E. R. Brown - Almost Criminal (2013)|
2014 Edgar Award - Mystery Writers of America — Shortlisted, Best Paperback Original
Medicinal marijuana can be murder.
Charming, wealthy Randle Kennedy has a secret: he’s British Columbia’s most prolific producer of boutique marijuana. He’s developed strains of B.C. Bud to please the most sophisticated palates and produce any desired effect, from a light contemplative buzz to the most mind-warping stone. His medical varieties offer relief for conditions ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Come legalization, he’ll be the first on the market with marijuana’s answer to single-malt Scotch. Until that day, he runs a tight operation with terrorist-cell security.
Tate MacLane is brilliant, miserable, and broke. Since graduating from high school at age 14, he’s failed at university, failed to support his family, failed at everything except making a superb caffe latte.
Randle wants a fresh face to front his transactions. Tate desperately needs a mentor and yearns for respect. And money …
Then there are the bikers, the muscle with the cross-border connections that Randle needs to bring his product to the American market. Soon Tate finds out that it’s harder to get out of the business than to get in.
|Michael Van Rooy - An Ordinary Decent Criminal (2005)|
All recovering drug addict and reformed thief Montgomery Haaviko wants to do is settle down with his wife and baby in their new home and work on building a straight life, one free of the day-to-day hustle and danger of being a career criminal. But for a man who's never held down a legitimate job it isn't going to be easy. When Monty foils a robbery in his new home, killing the intruders, he soon finds he has both a small-time crime boss and a star police sergeant looking for ways to ruin him, run him out of town, or kill him. It's going to take all of the tricks this streetwise ex-con has up his sleeves to prove his innocence, protect his family, and avoid the temptation of the life he left behind.
Montgomery Haaviko's Tricks of the Trade:
Be nice. Nice is good. Nice sets a standard. Then, when you get mean, the shock is strongest.
Armored cars are owned by people with guns.
When burglarizing a house move slowly. Then slow down. Now cut it by half. And you've got it.
A couple of drops of crazy glue on the tips of your fingers will eliminate fingerprints.
|Mike Knowles - Darwin's Nightmare (2008), Grinder (2009), In Plain Sight (2010)|
|Giles Blunt - Forty Words For Sorrow (2000)|
"Forceful . . . surprising . . . [Blunt's] insights into suffering and madness give his characters their true voice." - The New York Times
In the quiet Canadian town of Algonquin Bay, a frozen body has been found in an abandoned mine shaft. She is quickly identified as Katie Pine, a teenager who had disappeared months ago. At the time, Detective John Cardinal insisted that Katie was no ordinary runaway. His relentless pursuit and refusal to give up on the case got him demoted from Homicide. But now the Canadian police force wants Cardinal back on the case - with a new associate by his side. And as these two untrusting partners gather evidence of a serial murder spree, a pair of sociopaths is closing in on the next victim.
Winner of The Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction
Nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel
I'm not great at reading challenges, but maybe I ought to do a dozen from Canadian authors in 2018. There's more on the pile.....John McFetridge, Howard Engel, Dietrich Kalteis, Robin Spano, L.R. Wright, Linwood Barclay........oops and Sam Wiebe!