Ross Mackay, The Saga of a Brilliant Criminal Lawyer: And His Big Losses and Bigger Wins in Court by Jack Batten (Durvile Publications) This one’s been a labour of love for the Star’s mystery and crime fiction writer. And what an incredible story: as a very young, green lawyer, Mackay represented the last two people executed in Canada. He lost both cases, which were held just 19 days apart, and both of his clients were hanged at the Don Jail in Toronto. After that rather ignominious start, Mackay is remembered as a brilliant lawyer by the legal community.
The Finder by Will Ferguson (Simon & Schuster) Sometimes the best fiction is rooted in truth. In his latest book, Giller Prize winner Ferguson uses a search for lost objects — the Romanov dynasty’s missing Faberge eggs, Buddy Holly’s glasses and other iconic cultural touchstones — as the conceit to take us around the world with Interpol agent Gaddy Rhodes as she chases a shady figure called the Finder, as well as travel writer Thomas Rafferty and war photographer Tamsin Greene. Ferguson spins a good yarn with a literary bent.
Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (House of Anansi) Noopiming means “in the bush” in Anishinaabemowin and is award-winning Indigenous writer Betasamosake Simpson’s answer to Susanna Moodie’s 1852 memoir “Roughing It in the Bush.” Part poetry, part narrative, by turns profound and deeply funny, the structure builds a new way of engaging with the story, each other and the world around us.
We Two Alone by Jack Wang (House of Anansi) Jack Wang’s first book was turned down by Anansi 18 years ago. Now, nearly two decades later, the same house is publishing his debut collection — and it’s creating a lot of buzz. The stories, and a novella, span five continents and almost a century of the Chinese immigrant experience.
It’s the 40-year anniversary this month of the end of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. To mark the occasion his brother, Darrell Fox, has put together Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters, from Viking, with contributions from 40 Canadians about the impact of Fox and his legacy. Contributors include Hayley Wickenheiser, Douglas Coupland, Christine Sinclair, Sidney Crosby and others.
A couple of interesting fiction titles from international writers this week: His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie (Thomas Allen & Son) is a smart and funny debut novel from a fresh new voice. The protagonist, Afi, a young seamstress in Ghana, is made to marry a wealthy businessman, moving her into a world where she’s expected to be beautiful, a good cook and mother, and respect her husband and forgive his many foibles — expectations she struggles against. Gentrification is many people’s worst nightmare, particularly those living in inner cities. In When No One Is Watching (HarperCollins), New York writer Alyssa Cole, known for groundbreaking romances that champion diverse and inclusive stories, has decided to write a thriller. Here’s the publishers’s description: “Condos are sprouting like weeds, For Sale signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbours she’s known and loved all her life are disappearing.” Sounds familiar — and like fertile ground for conspiracies and tackling systemic racism.