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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-07-05 10:09
The Walker On The Cape by Mike Martin

 

In the quiet, laid-back fishing village of Grand Bank, southeast coast of Newfoundland, Canada, a foggy morning becomes more than just another day when Mavis Emberley's soup burnt on the stove.

People along the coastline in Grand Bank could set their clocks by Elias Martin. Every morning, even when the fog floated in from Fortune, they saw his hunched figure climb and disappear in the mist that ran the shoreline like a rum runner. You could put a pot of soup on to boil when he set out and be sure that when he appeared again that the potatoes, carrots, and turnips would be soft and sweet.

Mavis Emberly was one such soup-maker who relied on Elias Martin to set the pace for her weekly batch of pea soup.

“There he goes,” she remarked to her husband, Francis, "Time to put the soup on”. 

An hour and a half later Francis Emberly muttered, “Something’s burning in that kitchen, maid.” Mrs. Emberly ran to the kitchen to turn off her black bottomed soup with a smattering of non-religious but surely immoral curses and immediately realized that something else was wrong besides her spoiled soup. Elias hadn't returned. "Or else I missed him," she decided.

The point is: Seventy-two year old Elias Martin was dead.

Every morning for the past eleven years Elias Martin had his breakfast of hot porridge and thick molasses bread smothered in partridgeberry jam. Then, rain or shine, he began his solitary walk from his small blue house on Elizabeth Avenue in Grand Bank, Newfoundland, down through the Cove, and until the winter snow made it impassable, up over the hills to the Cape.


Two tourists found his body up on the hill. Heart attack, it was declared at first, and soon the town began to simmer with stories boiling over in Mug-Up Café, the restaurant of Sheila Hillier.

The only one who knew for sure was Elias Martin and he sure wasn’t talking. Who would finally unravel the mystery of the Walker on the Cape?

Thirty-two year old Sergeant Winston Windflower, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a full-blooded Cree from the Pink Lake Reserve in Northern Alberta, thought Elias's death was suspect and he planned to get to the bottom of the simmering, boiling pot. For once there was more to work on than the petty crimes and motor accidents in the village. And as an incomer, he still had to prove himself after being there for only one year. But what to do when there were always secrets to protect in a small community like this?

He had his vice too, he did.

Some men smoke, drink or chase women as their vice. Windflower's was peanut butter cheesecake.

With the shocking death of Elias, more peas in the pot of Grand Bank got names:
Marge and Harvey Brenton - affluent members of society; Harvey's pay roll included a few people from the justice and political systems, it seemed;
Mayor Francis Tibbo; who wanted rules to be applied, excluding his own family;
Roger Buffet - with a history still to be discovered;
James Sheridan, and his mother Georgette who had more than just a sentimental bond with Grand Bank;
Howard Stoodley, a retired Crown Attorney;
Sheila Hillier - more than just an excellent cook in her café;
Constable Eddie Tizzard - the everyday tornado, the gale-force wind around town;
Dr. Vinjay Sanjay - Winston's chess and Scotch partner, coroner and medical doctor;
Staff Sergeant William Ford; a new friend in the making;
Inspector MacIntoch of Marystown - the boss;
Kevin Arsenault - Acting inspector;

And then there was the Poison of Kings and the King of Poisons, and some rotten fish in Newfoundland, and cops with dirty hands in the chain of command ... files disappear, investigations are mysteriously stopped, the plot thickens!

This is a skillful, interesting, relaxing, as well as an entertaining first novel by Mike Martin. The endearing characters soon become the reader's friends as well, and the Canadian cuisine makes a splashing entreé into the p(l)ot. Never a dull meal for those readers living outside of Newfoundland, Canada!

As the first book in the Sgt. Winston Windflower mystery series, the introduction to this fishing village is well-plotted and fast paced. It is not a mysterious read, but rather a day to day reflection on the inhabitants's lives as the plot unfolds in clear-cut prose.

The presentation of Grand Bank and its inhabitants leaves the reader with just one mission, and that is to read the two other books as well:

The body on the T and Beneath the Surface

It is a guaranteed pleasant, relaxing experience throughout.

Source: something-wordy-reviews.blogspot.com/2014/07/walker-on-cape-by-mike-martin.html
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-10-04 15:47
The Body on the T (Sgt. Windfower Mystery, #2) by Mike Martin

It's brainy and brawny; a cod drill on the grill 

Grand Bank, southeast coast of Newfoundland Canada. This is the little part of heaven where RCMP Sergeant Winston Windflower, his girlfriend, Sheila Hillier, his sidekick , the incessant chattering Corporal Eddie Tizzard and his other interesting friends get to spend a quiet uncomplicated life. 

Their days are filled with culinary delights, chess- and card games and generally as little trouble as possible. But that was before a body is discovered on the T and a fortune cookie promises him exciting times ahead. With the cod fish industry going belly up, a few people in town have to find other ways of keeping the peanut-butter cheesecake affordable and on the menu for many, and their conduct promises to give a totally different meaning to the concept of exciting times...

For some people, trouble is their comfort zone, and where there aren't any, they create it in any which way they can. After all, a little bit more trouble can bring a little bit more monetary cushioning in their lives. They are a bunch of characters that would stir the pot considerably for Winston Windlfower: people such as Claude Lapierre; Roger Buffet; and Ernie Daley, the slime bucket, who does not mind the "hoccupational azzards" his aspirations would incur; and the mayor, Francis Tibbo, waddling in on the action, sputtering "What is going on in this community, Sergeant? Dead bodies being found by children as they play on the beach? A well-known community member dragged out of the water? People want answers, I want answers!" His attempt at righteous indignation came across as shrill and fatuous. Francis Fatuous. It fits indeed.

From then on, not only the cod tongues gets steamed up, or fried, with scallops on the side, dished out with a rosé sauce made of tomatoes, fresh, cream, black pepper, onions, and some Parmesan cheese. Like the cod and vegetables forming a scrumptious community on the plate, the people of Grand Banks are in for a serious drill on the grill of bad intentions and good guys stepping in to save the day in a thrilling adventure along the beautiful coast lines of Newfoundland. Nothing will ever be the same.

Like the sauce, the story promises to be just as tart and tangy. Exhilaration and drama drives this easy, decent read. It is a fast read, yet slow enough to include a complete image of life in Grand Bank Newfoundland. The detailed scenery, the history, dialects, recipes and many more information in the plot- building ensure that this is undoubtedly a feel-good read.

I recommend this book to the reader who enjoys a good story that would not spread gut and gore all over the ocean floor. It is clean, fresh and perfectly spiced.

Reviewed as member of the Kindle Book Review Team

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/733199985
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review 2013-01-15 00:00
The Newfoundland Vampire
The Newfoundland Vampire - Charles O'Keefe Let's face it, with a title like The Newfoundland Vampire and a cover like the one to the left, your expectations are pretty well established before you even turn to the first page. I mean, really, nobody goes into a vampire novel like this expecting the Gothic melodrama of Anne Rice or the supernatural terror of Brian Lumley. Instead, invited in by the author, we enter of our own free will, looking for a little fun and entertainment . . . something that Charles O'Keefe certainly provides.

Fortunately, as much as it reminded me of 80s cinematic camp, the story manages to fall on the right side of Nicholas Cage ironic, self-aware humour, à la Vampire's Kiss, rather than full-on Jim Carrey mindless parody, à la Once Bitten. It has a nostalgic feel to it (which probably dates me a bit), but also managed to surprise me often enough to keep me truly entertained.

The Newfoundland Vampire is the story of Joseph O'Reilly, just another average, ordinary, all-around nice guy (and geek), who isn't about to ditch the best looking woman to ever cross his path just because she happens to like the taste of blood - even if her ex-husband is a sadistic killer, out for revenge. Before you scoff, figuring you've heard that tale before, take note of the fact that Joseph is (or, at least, was) a vegetarian, putting a unique spin on both his reluctant vampirism and his emerging heroic sensibilities.

In terms of characters, Joseph really carries the novel, and does it well. He's a realistic, self-effacing young man to whom anyone can easily relate. O'Keefe wisely keeps him balanced, making him a geeky young man, but never a parody of that subculture. More than that, he allows Joseph to retain his humanity, questioning who and what he has become, and looking for ways to not just deal with the hand fate has dealt him, but seize the opportunity to make the most of it. Similarly, while O'Keefe doesn't necessarily add anything substantial to the vampire mythos, I liked the way he approached it, especially with the logical little extrapolations of how and why they hunger the way they do.

If I were to have one complaint, it's that O'Keefe tries to do too many genres at once, merging romance, action, and humour, often a little awkwardly. There's definitely a Buffy/Angel influence here, albeit one that's gender-swapped and turned on its head, but it feels as if the greatest potential has yet to be realized. Despite that, it's a fun read, and one that shows great promise.



Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins
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