Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Smoked: A Detective Lane Mystery by Garry Ryan

This is the fourth in a mystery series featuring a gay police detective in Calgary. Detectives Lane and Harper investigate a missing person, a 21-year-old dental assistant named Jennifer Towers. Her body is later found in a dumpster that had been graffiti-tagged with her name. Jennifer's violent boyfriend is a prime suspect, but there's also something suspicious about the dentistry office where she worked. The two dentists drive new Mercedes but they don't seem to have many patients. Lane and his spouse, Arthur, also have plenty of drama at home, where they are the legal guardians of two troubled teenagers.

It's a character-driven novel with a suspenseful plot; more of a how-will-we-nail-him than a whodoneit. Calgary's multicultural makeup is nicely reflected in the story. Without mentioning Ralph Klein by name, or even the province of Alberta, Ryan includes a dig: "Remember when the premier got drunk and went after those homeless people down at the shelter?" I appreciate details like that.

In the author information, Ryan says the impetus behind the series came from a desire to write a mystery that would highlight the unique spirit and diverse locations of his hometown, Calgary. Kensington, Bowness, Stephen Street Mall, the Bow River and Shaganappi Trail are some of the landmarks I noted, but I'm almost positive that the name "Calgary" doesn't appear anywhere in the book. It's very odd. Even the newspaper announcement about a former Stampeder coming to town omits the city's name.

I guess the first book in this series (Queen's Park) would have made the setting clear, but in other respects, it's entirely possible to enjoy this book - as I did - without having read the first three. Read about the other books on Ryan's site.

No comments: