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Canadian Crime Fiction

by David Skene-Melvin

Canadian Crime Fiction is a massive bibliography of Canadian crime writing compiled by David Skene-Melvin, assisted by Norbery Spehner, whose earlier work (written with Yvon Allard), Ecrits sur le roman policier, Bibliographie (Collection Paralitté-ratures, Le Préambule, 1990) has proved to be so useful. This new work is conceived along new lines and promises to do for Canadian crime fiction what the older book did for crime writing in general.

The work is divided into several parts: crime fiction by Canadian authors, which comprises half of the text; then appendices that list books written by Canadians but set elsewhere; books set in Canadian locations by authors who were not themselves Canadian; and books by writers of nationalities other than Canadian where there is some significant Canadian connection. For instance, the once-popular British writer Dennis Wheatley set part of his 1972 novel The Strange Story of Linda Lee in Canada. (It was also set in the USA, but that will have to await another bibliography.) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mentions Canada several times throughout the Sherlock Holmes canon. The best-known reference is to Meyers, the Toronto bootmaker, in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

On the level of bibliography, the book is an excellent addition to the specialist’s library. There are a few regrettable errors in some of the citations – for example, Margaret Millar, we read, “lives” in Santa Barbara even though the date of her death may be read at the head of the item and the day, month, and year of her death are noted further down the page.

On the level of entertainment, the bibliographer has allowed his own quirks of personality to inform and enliven the book with surprising insights and denunciations. In describing Keith Oatley’s 1993 novel The Case of Emily V, Skene-Melvin even seizes the opportunity to tear a strip from the reputation of Sigmund Freud: “…it shows Freud for what he was, a wordy fraud self-hypnotized by his own theories who did almost as much damage to women as the so-called St. Paul….” Other nuggets of pure gold await the eager reader.


Reviewer: Howard Engel

Publisher: The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box


Price: $125

Page Count: 470 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 1-896648-60-6

Released: Oct.

Issue Date: 1997-1

Categories: Reference