Sunday, May 18, 2014

In the Shadow of the Glacier: Vicki Delany

Summary at Poisoned Pen Press:
Trouble is brewing in the small, bucolic mountain town of Trafalgar, British Columbia. An American who came to Trafalgar as a Vietnam War draft dodger has left land and money to the town. But there's a catch. The money must be used to build a garden to honor draft dodgers. This bequest has torn the close-knit, peaceful town apart. Then the body of a leading garden opponent is found in an alley, dead from a single blow to the head. Constable Molly Smith is assigned to assist veteran Detective Sergeant John Winters in the investigation.
Because Winters' usual assistant is out for a while, Molly is given the opportunity to work with him on a murder investigation. She is thrilled, and wants desperately to do well. Winters, on the other hand, finds her brash and impulsive, and takes a while to get used to working with her. At times it was confusing (to me) why Molly would be allowed to work on the case. On the one hand she has insider knowledge of the community that Winters does not have; on the other hand she is closely involved with various persons who could be suspects.

There were a lot of elements to the story: draft dodgers moving to Canada, ecological issues associated with a resort development, treatment of women in police departments, the complexity of family relationships and working relationships ... maybe too many. I like a book that covers a wide range of topics while solving a mystery, but in this case I was distracted at times. I had a hard time getting into some of the characters. I liked and warmed to the main characters: Molly "Moonlight" Smith, a rookie policeman, and Sergeant John Winters, who has taken this job in a small town after a very unpleasant case in a previous job. I liked getting to know their fears and family issues, while they work on the investigation. There were a host of other characters and some of those I had a hard time getting into.

This is a fun police procedural, somewhat on the cozy side. I like the setting and learning a little bit of history of the draft dodgers in the US that I had not been aware of. Trafalgar is a thinly disguised version of Nelson, British Columbia. Per Wikipedia, it is true that draft dodgers from the US settled in Nelson. "During the Vietnam War, many American draft dodgers settled in Nelson and the surrounding area. This influx of liberal, mostly educated young people had a significant impact on the area's cultural and political demographics." I will continue reading this series not only because I am curious about the development of Molly and her partnership with Sergeant Winters, but also because I think that learning more about this city and its surroundings will be interesting.

Margot at Confessions of a Mystery Writer... has written two posts featuring Delany's books: a spotlight on In the Shadow of the Glacier and Introducing: Vicki Delany, where she also talks about her other series.

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Publisher:  Poisoned Pen Press, 2007.
Length:  302 pages
Format:  e-book
Series:   Constable Molly Smith series
Setting:  British Columbia, Canada
Genre:  Mystery, Police Procedural

21 comments:

  1. TracyK: I have not read this opening book in the series. I did enjoy meeting Moonlight earlier this year when I read A Cold White Sun. I expect I will go back to the start of the series.

    I am actually reading another book by Delany which is her other series set in the Klondike during the Gold Rush.

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    1. Bill, I look forward to your review of the book in the Klondike series. I am sure I will enjoy more books in the Molly Smith series, too.

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  2. Tracy - First, thank you for the kind mention. I appreciate it. I'm very glad you enjoyed this first novel in the series. In my opinion, Molly's character develops in a solid way as the series goes on, and I really like the character of her mother 'Lucky' too. And I think you're right; there's a solid sense of place in the series. I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the books in the series.

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    1. I thank you, Margot, for your introductions to authors and their books. I look forward to getting to know Molly and her family and Winters better too.

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  3. Tracy, I have a few additions to my TBR pile from your reviews over the past year or so, I will pass on this one though. I hope you continue to enjoy the series.

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    1. Understood, Col, not your type of series.

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  4. I may skip this one because of the slight cozy factor, but I must say I'm impressed with the premise and setting, as regards to the historical background.

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    1. Me, too, Ryan. I knew, of course, of men avoiding the draft moving to Canada, but not how many stayed on. Makes sense, though.

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  5. Tracy, I like reading different elements to a story as long as they are connected to the main plot in some way or other. I didn't know about draft dodgers moving to Canada during the Vietnam War; very interesting.

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    1. I agree, Prashant, a lot of elements in a story can be good. I will be interested to see how the 2nd novel is.

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  6. In a way thins sound smore like the kind of thing, with lots of subplots, that might work better on TV perhaps? It can make a novel very unfocused, no question ... Thanks TracyK

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    1. That is a good description, Sergio, unfocused. That is the way it felt sometimes, in some areas. Overall, though, interesting and good.

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  7. I have read the first two books in the Molly Smith series. I like it, especially the character of Lucky, Molly's mother, who is a lot like women I've known since childhood -- including in a family which moved to Nelson, B.C. in the 1970s. (The father in that family was an artist, who was a Conscientious Objector during WWII; he did not want to harm another human being.)

    I've known my share of then-young men who moved to Canada to flee the draft for the horrific Vietnam War, which killed 3 million Vietnamese and 58,000 U.S. soldiers. I've also known those who went to Europe, to jail, got married and had children or filed for Conscientious Objector status, got it and stayed here to do community work.

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    1. That is very interesting, Kathy. I don't know that many people personally who went to Vietnam or avoided the draft, which seems strange. My first husband would have been drafted but wanted to be a pilot so was in ROTC and joined the Air Force. Coming from the South, maybe not that many people were willing to protest, although there were a few protests at my college. I am going to have to do more research on that subject.

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  8. Tracy, I started this book awhile back and couldn't get interested. I will give it another try!

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    1. Peggy, it took me a while to get into the story. It might be that a later book would be a better introduction. Although this one does provide a good bit of info on the main characters.

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  9. I like the sound of this - I have her on my list to investigate from Margot's recommendations, and think I must move her up! After writing about conscientious objectors last week, and reading Kathy D's fascinating comments on my blog, I am very interested in the whole subject of draft dodgers.

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    1. The topic of draft dodgers, although not explored in detail in this book, was very interesting. It is amazing that I don't remember much about that period. The book is worth a try. I think there are comments on clothing too, but everything I read on the trip is kind of hazy in my memory right now.

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    2. I have downloaded it now Tracy. I will let you know how I get on....

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  10. Sounds like it might be worth a look - I'll put it on the long list.

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    1. If you do get to it, Puzzle Doctor, I would love to know if you think it was fairly clued. I don't always catch clues anyway, but I wasn't sure about this one at the end. Definitely there were hints.

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