Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words
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Rejean Giguere is an avid outdoorsman, adventurer, photographer and artist. He enjoys fishing, hockey, golf, tennis, skiing and snowmobiling, his V-Max motorcycle and vintage Corvette. He grew up in Canada and Europe, and enjoyed a business career in Toronto and Ottawa.
For more, visit his website.
A young Chinese Triad leader, Dragon Chang, travels to the small Canadian town of Jackfish to solve a riddle written on a scrap of paper and left to him by his great grandfather. He believes the riddle points to great wealth.
I enjoyed this fast paced, action-packed read. The story is woven of three distinct threads.
- The Chinese mafia who want the treasure left by Dragon’s great grandpa and will stop at nothing to attain it.
- A lone wolf, Phil Hardy, who has set up camp on a remote cliff, which just happens to overlook the treasure’s hiding place. Phil’s isolation is a self-imposed therapy while he strives to escape a haunted past life as a Toronto police officer who was involved in a deadly gunfight (also with Chinese mafia). Phil suffers flashbacks when he’s under stress, mostly triggered by his guilt - he blames himself for the death of two undercover operatives.
- April Harrison the local police officer. Jackfish is within her territory. April was a likeable character, and I strongly associated with her as a similar to the policewoman played by Francis McDormand in the Coen brothers’ movie, Fargo. She’s independent, capable, and although out of her depth when faced with murderous gangsters, manages just fine on a solid diet of common sense.
The first few chapters give backstory that explains how the treasure came to be in Jackfish. I’m not much of a ‘back story’ kinda guy, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading how Dragon’s great grandpa marshalled the Chinese workers as they built the railroad that skirted the banks of Lake Superior.
The plot is often driven by misunderstandings and this is nicely conveyed by the way the author switches between the threads giving different viewpoints of the same events. For example, when the Chinese arrive in Phil Hardy’s vicinity, he assumes they’re here to take revenge on him. The Chinese assume he’s after the treasure. April gets involved just because she wants to know why these strangers are in her district, and even to the end has no inkling about the treasure, or who the gangsters really are.
A number of interesting side stories involving cougars, bears, and drunks mesh the plot together and add to the richness. The writing is sharp, but it could benefit from an editor. Not for proofing, but just to straighten out some minor point of view slips that kicked me out of the story on occasions.
This is the second Rejean Giguere novel I’ve read from Al’s list, and it’s totally different from the first—kudos, Mr. Giguere. Keep us guessing.
Too few to mention. Canadian spelling.
Rating: ***** Five stars