Wreck Bay is the fifth time out with former aide worker Amanda Doucette who began trauma counseling after surviving a deadly massacre in Nigeria. The story begins with her checking out the sites and amenities for outdoor adventure for a planned father-son counseling excursion. This takes her to coastal British Columbia and remote islands. She meets a fellow trauma survivor there named Luke, a man who has lived there since the Seventies when he came presumably to dodge the draft.
But there is more to his story and when Amanda and her guide find the body of a stranger, the police are certain Luke is involved. Indeed, the more we learn about the stranger and Luke’s lives, the more likely his involvement seems. When the victim’s sister shows up, looking for vengeance, things really begin to heat up.
Wreck Bay was alternately disappointing and infuriating. As someone with years of experience in nonprofits, the nonchalant harum-scarum approach to planning the adventure struck me as bizarre and feckless. It seems Amanda creates new excursions from scratch which enabled the author, Barbara Fradkin, to take her all over the Canadian wilderness, but which is simply counterfactual to nonprofit experience.
A more significant failing in my eyes is the failure to follow what I think is one of the more important rules of detective fiction. Whether Ronald Knox’s ten rules or S.S. Van Dine’s twenty rules, Fradkin blatantly broke an incredibly important rule. This makes the mystery unfair and leaves readers too far in the dark. Of course, Amanda is in the dark as well, but that doesn’t make up for breaking a very important rule. If I told you which rule was broken, it would be a spoiler, but I cannot review this book without noting this. It is egregious.
Fradkin is an able writer. We can see what Amanda sees and experience the almost claustrophobic density of the forest and the wild freshness of the ocean. Her characters are also complex and interesting people. Where she falls down is in the resolution of the plot.
I received an e-gally of Wreck Bay from the publisher through NetGalley
- Wreck Bay at Dundurn Press
- Barbara Fradkin
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