Monday, October 3, 2022

A Killer in King's Cove: Iona Whishaw


A Killer in King's Cove is a historical mystery set in British Columbia, Canada right after World War II. The heroine, Lane Winslow, has just moved to Canada from the UK, following World War II, and lives in a small town of mostly older people. The only younger people in the area are a couple from New York who have recently moved there with their two young children. After Lane has settled down in King's Cove, a stranger is found dead in the creek that feeds water to her property. Eventually the death is determined to be murder and Lane Winslow appears to have a connection to this man.

In addition to a historical mystery, the story had elements of espionage and romance mixed in. The espionage comes into it because Lane was a courier who took messages into France during War War II. The anxiety and stress of that assignment and the loss of a lover during the war motivated her to move to Canada in an effort to forget about the war. The romance is very low key, and doesn't get in the way of the mystery plot.

Lane has purchased a home with some land and has ambitions to be a writer; she concentrates on poetry during this book. Although the small town she lives in is somewhat isolated, and provides a limited number of suspects, I did get all the characters confused. Most of the townspeople had been in the town since before World War I and some of the men had gone overseas and fought in the war. Others did not return. For once, a character list at the front of the book would have been useful, although usually I don't find those very helpful.

I like that the main character is a strong woman who will stand up for herself. The two policemen who investigate the crime are from a nearby town, Nelson. Inspector Darling and Constable Ames have a great relationship and I especially enjoyed the parts of the story where they were featured.

The setting in British Columbia was also a plus, and this book illustrated the ways that Canada was affected by both World War I and World War II. 

A Killer in King's Cove was the first in a series. There are now nine books in the series and another book due in 2023, so it seems to be going well. I am interested in where the next book will take Lane Winslow.

About the author, from her website:

Iona Whishaw was born in Kimberley BC, but grew up in a number of different places, including a small community on Kootenay Lake, as well as Mexico and Central America, and the US because of her father’s geological work. She took a degree in history and education from Antioch College, and subsequent degrees in Writing at UBC and pedagogy at Simon Fraser University.  

She is married, has one son and two grandsons, and lives in Vancouver with her artist husband, Terry Miller.

See also these reviews at Staircase Wit and Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan.


Publisher:   Torchwood Books, 2016
Length:      432 pages
Format:      Trade Paper
Series:       Lane Winslow #1
Setting:      British Columbia, Canada
Genre:       Historical Mystery
Source:     Purchased in 2020.


Bill Selnes said...

Glad you enjoyed the book. The book has an interesting pace. Lane is a memorable sleuth.

Clothes In Books said...

I hadn't heard of this author, and this book sounds intriguing, I like the combination of elements you describe. Also British Columbia is the one part of Canada I have visited, so that's another plus. You have tempted me!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have never heard of the series or the author either. Perhaps a Canadian press though.

TracyK said...

Bill, I liked the pace of this novel. It does take a while setting up the background before anything really happens, and even after the murder it spends time with various characters. But I did have a hard time remembering who was who in the community. It was a good reading experience overall.

TracyK said...

Moira, I had not heard of this author before either. It was Constance at Staircase Wit who told me about this author when I was talking about liking to read about Canada and Canadian authors. I was initially put off by the length but I didn't mind that in this book.

I have read parts of a couple of other mystery series set in British Columbia, and it sounds like a lovely place to visit. I envy you that you have been there.

TracyK said...

Patti, I was surprised that Iona Whishaw had written so many books in the series and I had not heard of her before, since I have been doing the Canadian Reading Challenge on and off for several years. The problem with amateur sleuths in small towns is so many murders is unrealistic but I will just take it one book at a time. I still love Midsomer Murders after all these years but at least that is a police procedural.

Cath said...

This sounds like a series I should investigate as it sounds like fun. But 'Lane' - coming from the UK in the 1940s? Hmmm, I think she must've had very unusual parents. LOL!

TracyK said...

Cath, I should have noted that her given name was Lanette, Lane was a nickname. I never think about name origins and whether they fit the time or the place, but I did look that name up just now and it has Welsh and French origins. Lane also grew up in Latvia but I don't remember if that had anything to do with it.

I was impressed with this book, I just purchased the second one in the series at my local bookstore this morning. We went there before getting my haircut and I always to try to buy a book there when we visit.

Lark said...

I haven't read many books set in Canada, especially in that time period. I really like the sound of this one.

TracyK said...

Lark, historical fiction and especially historical mysteries set in World War II or post war have appealed to me for the last decade or so. So I am surprised that I haven't run into any other series like this set in Canada.

I have read one historical mystery by a Canadian author that was set in the UK during the War. The author is Maureen Jennings and she grew up in the UK but now lives in Canada. She also wrote the Detective Murdoch series about a Toronto police detective, set in the late 19th century. That series was the basis of The Murdoch Mysteries series on TV.

Cathy said...

I've come across this book a time or two, and the setting, time period, and main character all appealed to me. After reading your review, I see that I need to add it to my TBR list.

TracyK said...

Cathy, I enjoyed this first book in the series and I already have a copy of the second one. If you like the time period, I think it is worth a try.

CLM said...

I am glad you enjoyed this and thanks for linking to my review! I think I am up to book 6 - the author has certainly been producing new installments regularly. The village inhabitants keep turning up so you get to know them.

Cath is right: an author should not pick an anachronistic name and I don't see that Lanette is any better than Lane.

It is true that many murders in a small town require some suspension of disbelief. I think she handles this pretty well. I also think perhaps the book is better on small town, historical setting, and atmosphere than the actual mystery. I think I found it odd for Lane to have decided to go to rural Canada in the first place, however.

TracyK said...

Constance, I found the characterizations in the book to be the best part. I am always interested in a Canadian setting and I haven't read that many historical novels set there. Canada is so large that I will never run out of things to learn about it.

As I noted in my reply to Cath, when I looked up Lanette, the name has Welsh and French origins, and there are other variations of the name. My assumption was that if it was used in Wales it could easily be used in other parts of the UK. I will see if I can find more about the name.