Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Green Place for Dying by R.J.Harlick

It's not every author who can make a reader care deeply for a character despite a major flaw. R.J. Harlick manages that in the latest Meg Harris mystery, A Green Place for Dying.

Something in Meg Harris' background compels her to seek comfort in alcohol. Although, she knows she has a problem, and, despite help from friends, she continues to drink. Even when helping friends from the Migiskan Anishinabeg First Nations Reserve, she still finds herself drinking too much, woozy, and having trouble driving home. However, it's a wise woman from that tribe who helps her find answers. And, she in turn, is more than a friend to the women who live on the reserve.

Marie-Claude is French Canadian, but she's married to an Algonquin. When her daughter, Fleur, went missing after moving to Ottawa, she waited to reveal it, hoping her husband would find the missing young woman. It was only when the body of another young woman was found that Marie-Claude turned to the community for help. Even the local police chief, Will Decontie, is frustrated. The police in Ottawa and Quebec didn't want to waste money looking for an Indian. Meg's hands aren't tied, though. Her questions lead her to a job and social center for members of the First Nations. However, they also lead her to a biker gang, bars and prostitutes.

Meg is stunned to learn there are more than 580 missing aboriginal women in Canada. "In most cases nothing is being done to find them." Meg has made a promise to search for Fleur. However, she has help from Teht'ae daughter of the band chief, Erik Odjek. Erik was once Meg's lover, but the two broke up when Meg couldn't reveal her secrets, and she turned down his marriage proposal. When Meg and Teht'ae learn Erik is also missing, the search turns personal.

Harlick's A Green Place for Dying is a compelling story for so many reasons. It's shocking to read about the lack of interest in searching for missing women. Here in the southwest, we may be familiar with the murdered and missing women of Juarez, Mexico, but we know nothing about the Indian women missing in Canada. The story of the search for Fleur, and the mystery behind the disappearances, is riveting. Harlick includes details of native life, and the isolated world near the reserve. Meg Harris lives is a beautiful area of Canada, and Harlick is skilled in setting the reader in that region.

And, then, there's Meg Harris herself. As I said earlier, she's a flawed character. She drinks. She has a history of emotional problems. At the same time, she cares deeply for her friends, and endeavors to help them. Harlick makes us care for Meg, for the missing young women, and for other characters in the book. Harlick's books may not be well-known in the U.S., but, they're worth looking for. Anyone who appreciates complex, realistic characters, and a strong traditional mystery set in an unfamiliar environment should make an effort to look for A Green Place for Dying. You'll be shocked to discover what you've been missing.

Although the Kindle version of A Green Place for Dying is already available, the paper version will not be available until next week. And, Amazon will be carrying it, no matter how it looks at the present time.

R.J. Harlick's website is

A Green Place for Dying by R.J. Harlick. Dundurn. 2012. ISBN 9781926607245 (hardcover), 424p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Rosemary said...

Lesa, I really like the sound of this. One of the great things about mysteries is their ability to introduce us to worlds of which we know nothing - that's why i like Dana Stabenow, and also, of course, Louise Penny.

I'll look out for this one, thanks.

Judy Starbuck said...

I am very interested in this book. Thanks for introducing it. My grandparents, Louis Napoleon Dubois and Blanche Ducharme Dubois are from that area and worked with an Indian tribe there.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Rosemary. You're right. I've learned so much from mysteries.

Lesa said...

Oh, if you're already familiar with the area from your grandparents, Judy, and the Indian tribes, you're really going to appreciate this book!

Diane said...

You are my go-to place for new (to me) authors. I will start with the early books and work my way to this one. Thanks.

Lesa said...

I love that, Diane! Thank you for telling me this is your go-to-place for new authors. Thank you so much!

Jayne said...

Lovely review, Lesa. You and I liked a lot of the same elements of this story.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Jayne!

Karen C said...

I've been updating my book list and made a promise to myself to not start another new series. It would appear I have no willpower what-so-ever!