Vicki Delany,
Among the Departed
(Poisoned Pen, 2011)

This is the sixth novel in the Constable Molly Smith series, which is a set of traditional cozy mysteries set in Trafalgar, British Columbia, and featuring Smith and her colleague, Sgt. John Winters, and a cast of supporting characters, who, I presume (since this is the first in the series that I have read) recur.

In it, Smith accompanies her boy friend, RCMP member Adam Tocek, on a trek into a rural camping ground to search for a missing girl. The girl is found and reunited with her family. However, in the search for her, Tocek's police dog uncovers a set of bones, which, it turns out, may or not be the body of Brian Nowak, a citizen of Traflagar who disappeared 15 years ago.

John Winters reopens the case and as he investigates, we meet the Nowak family, which has been shattered by the incident in their past. Mrs. Nowak is an empty shell, her son Kyle is a creepy artist who haunts the streets of the village after dark, and her daughter, Nicky, who was son of Molly Smith's best friends when they were growing up, is an expensive call girl in Vancouver.

Delany's plot goes down its quiet, calm and somewhat predictable path, never getting in the way of her real subject, which is love. Among the Departed explores the idea of love in all of its permutations, but to my mind, it never finds anything startling or new to say about it.

The author's fans will probably disagree, but I found the book way too polite to be effective.

book review by
Michael Scott Cain

2 July 2011

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