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Book Reviews

Solemn Vows: A Marc Edwards Mystery

by Don Gutteridge

Early in 2003, Ensign Marc Edwards appeared in Don Gutteridge’s first historical mystery, Turncoat. A few real-time months later, Edwards is back in a new novel set several months later in historical time, already promoted to Lieutenant and with a new boss. Sir Francis Bond Head has assumed the post of Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada and has inherited many of of his predecessor’s problems – rebellious farmers, political opposition, and a very porous border into the United States.

While Marc and his new boss are drowsing through the tedious lead-up speeches of an interminable outdoor election meeting, the Lieutenant-Governor drops some papers and he and Marc collide when they bend to collect them. At that moment a shot whizzes over their heads, only to strike dead the unfortunate Councillor Moncrieff seated in the chair behind.

Edwards is charged to find the villain and given the questionable assistance of one of the first members of the local police force. He’s also asked to track the writer of highly effective anti-government epistles to the local paper, and both tasks are pursued against a colourful and event-filled background of early Toronto.

Several of the characters from Turncoat make return appearances, and a few tentative expeditions are made into farcical and social comedy. While these new initiatives are mildly interesting and the story satisfying, Gutteridge should take care not to abandon the sense of history that made the debut novel so remarkable.