Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Done: "The Storm Murders" by John Farrow

Done: The Storm Murders by John Farrow, 2015, 9781250057686.

I read Farrow's Ice City (1999) several years ago and thought it was great. This is the fourth book featuring Montreal police detective Emile Cinq-Mars. Farrow is a pen name for Trevor Ferguson. Ferguson is one of those "critical darlings" whose books never sold that well. He took a chance on genre by writing City of Ice and had some good sales.

I waited a long time - or so it seemed - for another book under the Farrow name. I waited even longer for the third book and am still waiting because the third novel, River City, never had a U.S. release. The Canadian edition must have had a small printing because Ferguson himself posted online that online prices for the hardcover were hovering around $3,000. Sure, the cost is in Loonies but the price is still absurd.

Anyhoo. Two Province of Quebec cops are called to a rural farmhouse during a snow storm. The married couple inside are dead and their left hand ring fingers cut off. The cops are talking and realize the killer must still be in the house because there are no snow tracks showing someone exiting the home.  Both cops are shot in the head.

A month of two later retired Montreal copper Emile is at his horse farm and gets a call from his former partner, Mathers. Mathers and an FBI agent, Dreher, come to visit and the FBI agent asks for Emile's help. Well, this is weird in several ways. 1. They are in Canada, why is the FBI here? 2. Mathers works on Montreal Island, not in the exurbs. 3. When does the FBI ask anyone for help? Especially a retired Canadian cop? 4. Why does the FBI give a crap about a killing in Quebec?

Those very questions are what intrigues Cinq-Mars. Besides, he has been getting bored during retirement. Working with horses is fine but Cinq-Mars misses the intellectual challenges of his old career.

Things happen. Emile and his wife are having marriage trouble. His wife, Sandra, demands to be a part of the investigation - she does not want to be shut out and since he is not a cop he is not required to keep secrets. Emile keeps pressing Dreher for Dreher details and explanations about who these people were. Dreher tells of related killings in the U.S. and, again, is tight-lipped about the victims and how they are connected. Emile is intrigued by the mystery and keeps chugging.

More things happen. A trip to NOLA. Sandra briefly kidnapped. A mysterious FBI agent in NOLA. Emile back in Quebec investigating the dead Quebec couple. I enjoyed the story.

1. As I think about the plot I recognize it is kinda messy in spots. The killer's motive and behavior are a little off. But, hey, it;'s a novel.
2. Farrow has real nice character touches that explain Emile and his attitudes and temperament. His big schnozz that was a calling card when he was a policeman. His impatience with most everyone. His hyper awareness of details.

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