Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Calling: Inger Ash Wolfe

Excerpt from the dust jacket description:
Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef has lived all her days in the small town of Port Dundas and is now making her way toward retirement with something less than grace. Hobbled by a bad back and a dependence on painkillers, and feeling blindsided by divorce after nearly four decades of marriage, sixty-one-year-old Hazel has only the constructive criticism of her old goat of a mother and her own sharp tongue to buoy her. But when a terminally ill Port Dundas woman is gruesomely murdered in her own home, Hazel and her understaffed department must spring to life. 
This book is set in northern Canada, in Ontario. Usually, there is not a lot going on in Port Dundas, crimewise. It is a small town, and the small town relationships and expectations are an element in the story. Hazel and her staff are not adequately supported by her superiors in Toronto when violent crime comes to Port Dundas.

The author describes Hazel, the main character:
Hazel Micallef was a 62-year-old interim police chief on a small-town force, an investigator by training, who lived with her mother, the larger-than-life ex-mayor of the town. Hazel was divorced and not particularly likeable, with an imposing body that was racked by pain. She was intelligent, tenacious and, because convinced of her own moral rectitude, in constant conflict with others.
If all this novel had was Hazel's character, it would still be great. But the novel has much more; the supporting cast of characters that she works with (or against) also push the novel up a notch. There are established members of the police department of Port Dundas who have worked with Hazel for years and new arrivals sent to help out with the overload. Even the glimpses we get of some of the victims or other persons who have dealt with the killer are convincing, realistic portrayals.

The novel is a serial killer story and thus not my favorite type of read. I usually find that serial killers are too obsessed or crazy to provide the kind of tension I like in a novel. The actual identity is often not the issue but how to stop them. The deaths are often grotesque, disgusting, and dwelled upon more than I am comfortable with. Whether the subject matter and the manner of the deaths in this book would be offensive to some readers, I am not sure. I did not find this one very offensive in that area.

This novel had me entranced from the beginning. The story was compelling and the twists and turns made the 371 pages seem like half of that. Highly recommended, unless you really cannot take serial killer books.

Inger Ash Wolfe is a pseudonym for Canadian author Michael Redhill. He announced he was the author of the Hazel Micallef series in July 2012, the same month that the third book, A Door in the River, was published.

Resources:


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Publisher:   Harcourt, Inc., 2008
Length:       371 pages
Format:      Hardcover
Series:       Hazel Micallef #1
Setting:      Ontario, Canada
Genre:        Mystery
Source:      I purchased my copy.

28 comments:

Kay said...

I have had this book on my TBR for such a long time. Too long. Thanks for the reminder to move it up and actually pick it up to read. Your review made it sound most appealing.

Bernadette said...

I do remember liking this book a lot - Hazel in particular was a great character. Sadly for me the series seemed to go downhill after this.

TracyK said...

Kay, I hope you read it soon and enjoy it as much as I did.

TracyK said...

Bernadette, that is disappointing. I have books 2 and 3, I will try them and see what I think.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh, so that's who wrote this series....good to know to finally. I bought this book years ago but didn't read it. Glad to know it's good. The 62 y/o protagonist was a big draw for me but serial killer books unless they are written by Jo Nesbo I avoid like the plague. Thanks Tracy.

TracyK said...

I know, Keishon, I avoid serial killer books too. I have several authors I want to try but the first books are about serial killers (or all of them) and it just turns me off. I loved Hazel though. so different from me but very inspiring.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, I particularly liked the description of Hazel Micallef and I'm thinking how she handles the pressure of investigating a crime in the small port town.

col2910 said...

Tracy, nothing particularly here than puts me off, but nothing that draws me in either. As an aside I've never heard of the real author, or his assumed moniker prior to reading your review.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Sounds marvellous - thanks TracyK - love it when a strong character matches a proper plot!

Anonymous said...

So glad you enjoyed this, Tracy! Isn't Hazel a great character!? I like her very much. And you've reminded me that I want to feature this on my 'spotlight' series. Appreciate the nudge

TracyK said...

Prashant, Hazel was my favorite part of the book, but the picture of a small town police force and how it operates was very interesting, too.

TracyK said...

Col, I had not heard of Michael Redhill either, before he unveiled himself. I would prefer authors not use pseudonyms if they have already published books under their own name, but it is not my call.

TracyK said...

Sergio, Hazel almost reminds me of Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope, although this one moved a lot faster (and was more creepy). But I have only read one of each, so not much to compare.

TracyK said...

Margot, I was glad that I enjoyed this so much also, and yes, Hazel is a wonderful character. I hope I like the next one. I think she would be great for a spotlight (in fact I looked before writing my review and was surprised you had not done one already).

Buried In Print said...

I like the fact that you aren't especially fond of this kind of mystery plot and yet, even so, you really enjoyed the novel; I had wanted to read it before hand, but hearing something like this just makes me all-the-more eager.

Clothes In Books said...

I think I remember reading about the revelation of who the author is, but don't think I've ready any by her/him. But you have really tempted me with this review....

Ryan said...

Not sure this is one that I would enjoy as much as you did, but I have to say, I'm in love with the cover.

Unknown said...

Hello - I'm the publisher of a new (largely digital) imprint, and we'll be doing a lot of very cool old crime fiction from the twenties and thirties. Can I possibly have an email address so I can send you info about our new releases and/or review copies? Mine is publisher@deanstreetpress.co.uk. Best wishes, Rupert

TracyK said...

It is a fine book, and I am sorry it took me so long to get to it. I hope you get to it soon and enjoy it.

TracyK said...

Moira, I liked this book much more than I expected to. I don't know much about the author.

TracyK said...

It is a striking cover, isn't it?

Bill Selnes said...

TracyK: Thanks for the mention. I thought The Calling was an excellent book. I also liked the second (The Taken). Now the third (A Door in the River) was not one I liked and ended up reading multiple other reviews and posting about the reviews to show other reactions.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

I enjoyed this but have not read the sequels. The movie version(with Susan Sarandon) was pretty bad.

TracyK said...

I will get in touch with you, Rupert. Thanks.

TracyK said...

Bill, I remember that you did not like the latest book in the series. I look forward to giving it a try and seeing how it works for me.

TracyK said...

Steve, that is a shame about the movie version, as I do want to watch it. Maybe it will have enough going for it for one watching.

Unknown said...

Why are there only 4 books in the Hazel Micallef series? Was she killed off? I have read book one and am in the middle of book 2. I see the author started a new series.

TracyK said...

I don't know the answer to that, I have only read the first book although I have the second one on my shelves to read. I remember reading that there was another book coming by that author, but now I cannot find anything about it.