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.
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.
- The announcement of the real author in The Globe and Mail.
- Bill Selnes of Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan shares his Q&A with the author after the announcement.
- Review of this book at Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan
- Review at Reactions to Reading
- Article at January Magazine
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc., 2008
Length: 371 pages
Series: Hazel Micallef #1
Setting: Ontario, Canada
Source: I purchased my copy.