Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sugarmilk Falls - Ilona Van Mil

The Basics: Sugarmilk Falls, Ilona Van Mil, 2005, 321 pages, paperback, winner of the Crime Writers Association's Debut Dagger Award (for Crime novels by previously unpublished authors). Apparently she is also a law prof at the University of Essex in the UK.

How I found it: My mom had it and lent it to me when I was visiting her. I'm not sure if she had it for her book club or not, but either way, she really enjoyed it.

What's it about?: A small francophone town in northern Ontario is shaken out of their usual routine by the murder of the local school teacher. The townsfolk, including the priest, a trapper, the local car dealer, and the resident aboriginal family form part of a great cast of characters. It's a "whodunit" type of mystery novel, but Van Mil writes rather well and makes it feel a little more like literature. Van Mil also manages to incorporate aboriginal and religious issues in a great way.

Did I like it?: It's been ages since I read any mystery or crime books. I usually dismiss them as pulpy, but this one was so well-written for the genre that I really enjoyed it. There is so much more going on here besides the murder. The only thing that I disliked is that Van Mil switches from narrating about one set of characters to another quite quickly at times and it can be difficult for a reader to get their bearings.

Would you like it?: For a first novel, this one is quite good. And for a crime book, it is quite well written and doesn't feel very formulaic. The twists aren't that foreseeable and they do end up making sense. All in all, a good read.

But don't take my word for it: A review from Shotsmag (a UK eZine for crime fiction), a review from the UK's The Independent, and one from Sarah Weinman's blog (she's a crime writer, among other things).

No comments:

Post a Comment