Behind the scenes, nothing is what it seems.
Gord Stewart, 40 years old, single, moved back into his suburban childhood home to care for his widowed father. But his father no longer needs care and Gord is stuck in limbo. He’s been working in the movie business as a location scout for years, and when there isn’t much filming, as a private eye for a security company run by ex-cops, OBC. When a fellow crew member asks him to find her missing uncle, Gord reluctantly takes the job. The police say the uncle walked into some dense woods in Northern Ontario and shot himself, but the man’s wife thinks he’s still alive.
With the help of his movie business and OBC connections, Gord finds a little evidence that the uncle may be alive. Now Gord has two problems: what to do when he finds a man who doesn’t want to be found, and admitting that he’s getting invested in this job. For the first time in his life, Gord Stewart is going to have to leave the sidelines and get into the game. Even if it might get him killed.
Every City etc is my first John McFetridge book for a few years. Black Rock was read back in 2014, Swap in 2011. Having enjoyed both, in particular Black Rock as much as I did, I can't actually believe it's only the third book I've read by him in the past ten years.
In Every City we have main character, Gord Stewart reluctantly looking into a missing person case for a work colleague. Stewart works as a location scout in films, with a fall back investigative gig with a security firm, OBC.
Logic and a cursory police investigation seem to indicate his client's missing uncle abandoned his car and strode off into the woods to kill himself. McFetridge seems to use to book as a klaxon call for a discussion on the rise of male suicide. (If not a full-on discussion, male suicide and mental health particularly in the demographic of middle-aged men is at least flagged as a subject worthy of some attention.)
Stewart shows his capabilities as an investigator, following a trail of breadcrumbs around several towns and cities and while not actually finding his quarry does enough to disavow the notion that the uncle took his own life. His man is out there somewhere.
On set, Gord starts a fledgling romance with an actor, Esther. There's an interesting dynamic between Gord and his widowed father that Esther eases into. Gord has moved back home, ostensibly to look after his father, a man who seems pretty capable on his own. Perhaps it's a way of combatting his own loneliness. His father himself might be back in the dating game. The home situation adds some humour to the book.
About halfway through the book we break off on a tangent with a secondary situation concerning Gord's sometime employer and their current hot news case. OBC is using its considerable powers to try and suppress, intimidate or discredit potential witnesses in a up-coming high profile rape case against one of its clients. Danger alert - Stewart and his actor girlfriend find themselves in the crosshairs of a formidable opponent.
Situation B gets resolved and we then switch back to missing person mode. Stewart, the client and the missing man's wife and the reader get answers as to what happened and most of the why.
I'm kind of conflicted about the book if I'm honest. I liked the characters, the situation, the story, the investigation, the bits in and around the film world, the understanding and sympathy extended to a man who behaves from the outside in an inexplicable, incomprehensible way. It felt personal. I can see how the authorities under pressure of case load and resource issues might go for the easy outcome. Not saying it's right, but I can understand it.
Overall 3 from 5 - It's not my favourite book from the author.
Read - August, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 344
Source - Net Galley
Format - Kindle