Saturday, July 25, 2009

Book Review: The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe

The Calling, Inger Ash Wolfe (2008)(****). My partner Julie's birthday is at the beginning of June, which neatly corresponds with the beginning of summer (although this year the semester dragged almost to the end of June, poor dear), so as a gift, I bought Julie a whole stack of mysteries at our favorite local bookseller. Of course, the lag between her birthday and the end of the semester gave me plenty of time to get a head start. The Calling is set in a small town in Canada, where Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef -- near retirement, divorced, living with her spirited mother, overweight, suffering from back pain, and despairing of ever receiving a promotion to CO -- is faced with a once-in-a-career sort of murder. The victim is the terminally ill woman whom her father had an affair with years ago, and she has been killed in a bizarre and ritualistic manner by someone she appears to have known. It soon becomes clear that hers is one in a string of similar deaths all across Canada, and suddenly Hazel and her band of nicely characterized colleagues find themselves with a serial killer on their hands. In the manner of "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" (see how shallow I am?), the question in this mystery is not who the murderer is; in fact, the narration switches back and forth between the investigation, and the killings themselves, committed by a man named Simon, whom we learn more and more about as the mystery unfolds. This is not so much a "whodunit" as a "why'dhedoit?" and "a how'retheygonnachatch'im?" This is not probably the most brilliant mystery I've ever read, but it was certainly engaging, and as mysteries go, pretty satisfying. I really enjoyed Hazel Micaleff, and hope she might be a recurring character in future mysteries.

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