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Fall preview 2011: Canadian crime fiction, graphica, and poetry

In the July/August issue, Q&Q looks ahead at the fall season’s biggest books.

Perennial bestseller Linwood Barclay returns with another spine-tingler, this one about a Connecticut contractor who gets caught up in a world of corruption and illegal activity when his wife is killed in a car crash the police accuse her of causing. The Accident (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl.) appears in August. ¢ October sees the return of Father Brennan Burke and Monty Collins, the heroes of Anne Emery‘s popular mystery series. In Death at Christy Burke’s (ECW Press, $26.95 cl.), Father Burke is forced to investigate a murder at his grandfather’s pub in Dublin, a crime that has far-reaching implications involving the historical clashes between Northern and Southern Ireland.

Peter Robinson, best-selling author of the Inspector Banks series, returns this season with a one-off mystery. Before the Poison (M&S, $29.99 cl., Aug.) is about a Hollywood film composer who returns to the Yorkshire Dales after the death of his wife, only to discover that the house he’s moved into was the scene of a murder in the 1950s. ¢ Veteran indie author Stan Rogal returns with a genre mystery, Bloodline (Insomniac Press, $19.95 pa., Oct.), about a series of murders involving female hitchhikers.

Gordon Cope taps into modern paranoia, computer viruses, and cyberwarfare in his debut, Secret Combinations (TouchWood Editions, $26.95 pa., Sept.). FBI agent Jack Kenyon is investigating a plot to steal a secret code that could wreak havoc on national security, but the case is derailed when his aunt dies in London, England. Until, that is, Kenyon discovers that his aunt’s death may be related to a deadly cyberwarfare conspiracy.

Series hero Detective Lane faces trouble on many fronts in the latest novel from Garry Ryan. He’s under investigation by the Calgary Police Department, his partner has contracted cancer, and an Eastern European war criminal has been murdered. Find out how all these problems work themselves out when Malabarista (NeWest Press, $18.95 pa.) hits bookstores in September.

It’s taken Nova Scotia native Kate Beaton a scant four years to make an indelible mark on the world of comics, in part because of her warped sensibility and irreverent wit, in part through appearances in magazines such as Harper’s and The New Yorker. Beaton’s new book, Hark! A Vagrant (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95 cl., Oct.), features the artist’s unique take on historical and literary figures as diverse as Napoleon and Nancy Drew.

Celebrated playwright, choreographer, and filmmaker Robert Lepage makes the transition to graphic novels with The Blue Dragon (Anansi, $25 cl., Nov.), an adaptation of the play Lepage co-wrote with Marie Michaud. The story follows a love triangle that unfolds in the context of modern China’s political and cultural paradoxes. Fred Jourdain illustrates. ¢ Marc Bell brings his unique artistic sensibility, last seen in 2009’s Hot Potatoe, to Pure Pajamas (D&Q, $22.95 cl., Nov.), a collection of comics from his syndicated strip in Montreal’s Mirror and Halifax’s The Coast.

Red Power (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $19.95 pa., Oct.), by author and illustrator Brian Wright-McLeod, tells the story of Shelley and Billy, two activists who join a group fighting for native land rights.

Chris Banks delves into the realm of Asian folklore in his third collection, Winter Cranes (ECW, $18.95 pa., Sept.), which extends the Asian idea of cranes as symbols of longevity, immortality, and good fortune to examine the modern chasms that exist between the physical and emotional realms.

Following last year’s Witness: Selected Poems 1962“2010, Harbour Publishing is releasing a comprehensive career retrospective of Patrick Lane‘s poetry. The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane ($44.95 cl., Sept.), co-edited by Russell Brown and Donna Bennett, contains more than 400 poems by one of Canada’s pre-eminent poets, and an afterword by the University of British Columbia’s Nick Bradley. ¢ In the last few years, Louis Riel has been the subject of a graphic novel by Chester Brown and a biography by Joseph Boyden. The leader of the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 is now the focus of a collection by Métis poet Gregory Scofield. Louis: The Heretic Poems (Nightwood Editions, $18.95 pa., Oct.) attempts to overturn traditional ideas of Riel as either a folk hero or a traitor.

Stephanie Bolster‘s debut, White Stone: The Alice Poems (1998), won both the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Gerald Lampert Award. Her latest, A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth (Brick Books, $19 pa., Sept.), focuses on zoos and gardens, nature, and interspecies relations (get your mind out of the gutter). ¢ An 18-year-old girl spends a summer working in a canned-corn factory and dealing with her alcoholic mother, her boyfriend, and her terminally ill grandfather in Kathryn Mockler‘s book of linked poems. The Onion Man (Tightrope, $15.95 pa.) starts peeling in November.

Toronto-born poet Barry Dempster follows up his 2010 collection Blue Wherever with a new book from Wolsak and Wynn. Dying a Little ($17 pa., Sept.) is a sombre meditation on cancer, death, and the ghosts of the departed. ¢ Frequent Q&Q reviewer Alexis Kienlen has a new book out with Frontenac House this fall. 13 ($16 pa.), which takes up subjects as diverse as beehives, board games, and childhood depression, appears in September.

The last time we heard from B.C. poet and author Brian Brett, he had won the 2009 Writer’s Trust Non-fiction Prize for Trauma Farm. He’s back this season with a collection of poems about our relationship with nature and the land. Wind River Variations (Oolichan Books, $22.95 pa.), which also contains photography by Fritz Mueller, appears in August. ¢ Poet and literary prankster David McGimpsey is back with a collection of chubby sonnets “ 16-line poems organized into eight sequences. Dropping in September, L’il Bastard (Coach House, $17.95 pa.) is Shakespeare on steroids.

Sachiko Murakami follows up her acclaimed first collection, The Invisibility Exhibit, with Rebuild (Talonbooks, $16.95 pa., Sept.), about the urban aesthetic and fanaticism for real estate that drives contemporary Vancouver. ¢ Franzlations (New Star Books, $19 pa., Oct.), the new collaboration from Gary Barwin, Hugh Thomas, and Craig Conley, has nothing to do with Jonathan Franzen. Instead, it’s a reinterpretation and reinvention of the parables and aphorisms of Franz Kafka. ¢ Author of more than a dozen books of poetry and essays, Vancouver Island-based writer Patrick Friesen is set to release Jumping in the Asylum (Quattro Books, $16.95 pa., Oct.), a collection that is equally inspired by the cadences of jazz and the Bible.

Joel Thomas Hynes is a novelist, actor, playwright, and screenwriter. Now, he adds poet to that list. Straight Razor Days (Pedlar Press, $20 pa., Aug.) finds the author in a gentler mood, but remains focused on his two favourite subjects: masculinity and the mores of contemporary Newfoundland. ¢ Lover Through Departure (Mansfield Press, $19.95 pa., Nov.) presents new and selected poems from Rishma Dunlop, about landscape and the sensual territory of lovers. ¢ Poet, publisher, and book designer Carleton Wilson‘s The Material Sublime (Nightwood, $18.95 pa., Oct.) examines the confluence between the material and spiritual worlds.

The fine print: Q&Q‘s fall preview covers books published between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2011. All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q‘s press time. ¢ Titles that have appeared in previous previews do not appear here.