Monday, 9 March 2015

Sorrow Lake - What's all this about a Canadian setting?

As spring approaches, work is underway to prepare my next novel for publication. Sorrow Lake, the first March and Walker Crime Novel, is set in eastern Ontario and features homicide investigators of the Ontario Provincial Police. The advance reading copy for review will be available next month in e-book format through NetGalley and in paperback through my imprint, The Plaid Raccoon Press.

I'm very excited to talk about this new series, which is a bit of a departure from the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series familiar to readers through Blood Passage, Marcie's Murder, The Fregoli Delusion, and The Rainy Day Killer (yes, a fifth novel in the series will eventually join them!). First and foremost, crime fiction fans will be interested to note that this Canadian crime fiction author is now using a Canadian setting for his mysteries!

Canada can proudly boast a strong lineup of home-grown crime fiction authors including Barbara Fradkin, Robert Rotenberg, Giles Blunt, and Louise Penny.  While Penny was quoted in the past as saying that “it was excruciatingly difficult to find an agent or a publisher in Canada or elsewhere interested in a procedural with a Canadian setting,”  her success with the Inspector Gamache series set in Quebec's  Eastern Townships and the popularity of Blunt's John Cardinal series set in a thinly-disguised North Bay (population 64,000) are proof that Canadian settings need not be a deterrent to success in the crime fiction market.

The OPP provides policing services to more than 300 communities in Ontario, including rural Leeds County, where Sorrow Lake is set. Homicide investigators in the force's East Region--where Detective Inspector Ellie March, one of two lead characters in the series, is assigned--investigate major crimes in a land area of  35,000 sq. km. with a population of over 900,000 people.  Stories in the series will be set not only in Leeds but in other parts of the region as well.

It's very interesting to compare the scope of this setting to, say, Iceland. Scandinavian crime fiction, still immensely popular in Canada and the US, includes bestselling, award-winning Icelandic novelists such as Yrsa Sigurdardóttir and Arnaldur Indridason. In fact, I have copies of their novels on the bookshelf in my bathroom.  How do we explain the amazing success of Icelandic crime fiction, set in a country with a population of only 323,000 people (a third of eastern Ontario)? A question for another day, but further proof that crime fiction with underpopulated settings can be surprisingly successful.

I'm very anxious for you to have a chance to experience March and Walker in action as they investigate the brutal execution-style murder of a local used-car wholesaler in Sorrow Lake. As procedurals go, this one is well-researched, carefully told, and features intriguing, engaging characters you'll want to follow through each of their upcoming adventures.

Stay tuned for more!


  1. Such an interesting observation. Nordic Noir is the go-to in crime fiction in Europe (also in Canada, I wonder?) which is where we are based, but we love finding novels that evoke locale, I can't imagine why a Canadian Setting is harder to market... Travelling as a tourist to Canada the Canadian setting would be a huge lure! Good luck with publication, hope it goes well.

    1. Thanks very much! Nordic Noir has also had a fine run here. I'm not sure, either, why a Canadian setting would be a challenge, but it's definitely one I'm up for. I hope you'll stop by again to read my follow-up posts on Sorrow Lake as we get closer to publication. All the best, m