Monday, February 16, 2009

Gwendolyn Southin Books - A Great Series of Mysteries

Touchwood Editions has been doing a wonderful job of publishing mysteries based here in BC. They are an imprint of the Heritage Group.

I have really been enjoying the mysteries that Gwendolyn Southin has been writing in her Margaret Spencer series. The sleuth is a 50 something year old Kerisdale housewife that becomes a detective by accident of taking a secretarial job.

There are three books published so far - Death in a Family Way, In the Shadow of Death and Death on a Short Leash.

They take place in the early 1960s in Vancouver. The setting is a few years before I was born, but Southin does an amazing job of capturing the time and place. I remember vestiges of that Vancouver when I was growing up, the city when it was a provincial backwater and dominated by Central Canadian and English traditions and morals.

In the books Maggie Spencer eats at the Aristocratic at Broadway and Granville, a place my grandmother took me. In the second book she travels to the Cariboo on the PGE - the timing of the trip and scenes were the same ones I experienced when I took the train from 1996 to 2002.

The main characters, Maggie Spencer and Nate Southby, are likable and not too flawed - I may like Rebus, but the flaws overwhelm the character. If I have a complaint, it is that the reoccurring secondary characters are two dimensional.

Southin chooses interesting plot lines for the reader that allow reflection on how the times were changing in the city.

I highly recommend this series to anyone that wants a good mystery because they stand up as mysteries in their own right. The connection to the place we live in here in BC makes them an important connection for us to our past. It is important for us to read stories that take place where we live - it is also nice for it not to be a chore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gwen is my great aunt, but i didn't know she was an author until a couple of months ago (Because she lives in canada and nobody told me). I may be biased, but her books are amazing!