Buy a book!
Not only are there books for every skill level, age, taste and interest, but a book gives three-fold. It enriches the heart and mind of its recipient, it strengthens our collective cultural voice, and it supports the (usually) struggling author who provides that voice. With this in mind, I would urge gift-buyers to venture beyond the blockbuster bestsellers at the front of the store and down the aisles towards the lesser known writers. There are unique and fresh voices to be heard, who rely not on big publicity budgets but on word of mouth, and who deserve much more attention than they receive in today's crowded marketplace.
On the Crime Writers of Canada website, under the link Cool Canadian Crime, you will find a list of all the 2013 books by CWC members. I can't mention all the great books that have come out this year – all worthy gifts for the right recipient – but with some trepidation I have decided to venture into the dangerous waters of "Holiday Lists" by providing a sampling of possibilities. I say with trepidation because these writers are my friends and I hate to leave any of them off the list (bearing in mind they know how to kill too). So I want to provide tantalizing hints of the range and variety available to you, rather than an exhaustive list. To that end I have tried to shine the spotlight beyond the familiar bestsellers onto books written in 2013 and set in Canada (with a few exceptions), that I can personally vouch for. There are many, many more I have not yet had the pleasure of reading, so let this list be a beginning for you, not an end.
For lovers of gritty, urban thrillers, there is ER Brown's Almost Criminal, set in British Columbia's infamous grow-opt trade where a unique, engaging teenager who finds himself way over his head. Or Howard Shrier's Miss Montreal, PI Jonah Geller's third outing in which he battles for truth amid the politics and corruption of Canada's most colourful city.
For those who like some international intrigue mixed in, there is Anthony Bidulka's When the Saints Go Marching In, which finds Disaster Recovery Agent Adam Saint investigating a Russian plane crash that kills a Canadian Governor-General. Or Peggy Blair's The Poisoned Pawn, which brings back Cuban Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, now battling a conspiracy that stretches from Ottawa to Havana to the Vatican.
If your recipient prefers more light-hearted romps to take their mind off the dark days of winter, Gloria Ferris's Corpse Flower is a raucous story about a trailer park divorcee, a pollinating plant, and simple dreams that get out of hand. Even more light-hearted are the latest instalments by two of Canada's divas of cozy crime, Erika Chase, with her latest Ashton Book Club mystery Cover Story, and Victoria Abbott's latest book collector mystery, The Sayers Swindle. Victoria Abbott is the secret identity of Mary Jane Maffini and her daughter Victoria.
And there is much more where these came from, folks! For more Hot Crime in a Cool Clime, check out www.crimewriterscanada.com
For more reluctant reader books, check out http://orcabook.com/rapid-reads.com/. I have two books in this series as well.
For a terrific list of current books by Ottawa writers, check out http://apt613.ca/apartment613-holiday-book-gift-list-for-2013/
And happy shopping!