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The Stringer

by Fred F. Langan

Canadian journalist Fred F. Langan’s debut novel, The Stringer, takes the reader into the heart of Montreal during the tense months leading up to the imposition of the War Measures Act. Only Montreal could provide a setting that combines corrupt politics, language conflicts, and romance with a mood of unfaltering joie de vivre. And only by setting a novel in the late 1960s could a writer get away with such a hard-living and misogynistic lead character.

Jack Devlin is an ambitious journalist trying desperately to get out of the local newsroom. He’s got the lights of New York City in his eyes, and in a bid to gain entry to the city that never sleeps, he’s become a stringer – or freelancer – for the Canadian edition of Time magazine. One morning after the night before, in bed with a curvy blonde in a friend’s Westmount home, Devlin is woken by a bomb blast. The explosion will send him investigating a trail of clues that leads from the docks of Montreal to union-run bars and communist chess clubs, straight to the Prime Minister’s office.

Devlin is a refreshing change from the sensitive, 1990s kind of guy mystery fans have been stuck with for the past few years. He supports the old adage that all men ever think about is sex, but Langan gives women an equal footing, portraying sex as a game that both genders are skilled at playing.

The Stringer is a tightly written, fast paced, believable thriller. Its straightforward style is reminiscent of 1950s pulp crime – think Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series. The tension inherent in Montreal’s language issues and divided culture also make it the perfect place to set a thriller that rings with the authenticity of novels set in London, L.A., or New York.