Quill and Quire

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The Glenwood Treasure

by Kim Moritsugu

Toronto author Kim Moritsugu’s third novel takes place in a slightly altered version of her home city. As she explains in an afterword, she’s combined the two neighbourhoods of Rosedale and Moore Park to create the fictional Rose Park, an upper-class Toronto neighbourhood flanked by wild ravines.

The story follows a young woman, Blithe, who has returned home after a painful divorce to live in the coach house on her family estate, with no plans but to sulk. That doesn’t last long, though, as she’s drawn into a web of activity: she’s lured into a search for the Glenwood Treasure, a half million dollars that was buried by the enigmatic Jeremiah Brown; she is enlisted to help an old friend’s mother research and write a local history book for children; she starts up a new relationship with a baker named Patrick; and she discovers and dismantles her snobby brother’s stolen artifact import-export business. Moritsugu juggles the many storylines expertly, but she includes too much detail. In between page-turning sections of treasure hunting, treachery, and seduction, we’re stalled with lists of the ingredients of almost every one of Blithe’s meals and we get overly long descriptions of her writing, editing, and revising process. These details, which could have been trimmed or worked more into the story itself, come off instead as mundane and irrelevant.

The protagonist makes reference to another heroine, Nancy Drew, while relating a part of the treasure hunt, and, at times, the book feels a lot like a young adult mystery – a light and funny story involving non-lethal crimes, melodramatic characters standing in for the forces of good and evil, and instances of obvious foreshadowing. It is not until the very end that Moritsugu extends her range, bringing in unexpected emotional weight and a tragic event that provokes deeper and darker insight into her characters’ psychologies.