Friday, January 17, 2014

Deadly by Nature by Meredith Andrew

Y'all know I love a mystery, and this is a pretty good one. I did figure out the murderer about two thirds of the way through, and I was right, so I'm not sure if that should make me feel better or worse about the quality of the book. For someone who reads/watches a lot of mysteries, I'm actually terrible at figuring out whodunnit, so for me to do so makes me think the solution is pretty obvious to everyone else.

The story is about a camping trip that goes terribly wrong. Gina, a sports writer for a fictional Toronto paper, and Patrick, an environmental activist, go camping by the (fictional?) Speller River north of Toronto. The next day Patrick is found near death from poisoning and Gina is dead in a canoe - evidently from rushing to get help. It looks as though mushrooms are the culprit, but Patrick is an expert on mushrooms and insists the ones he picked were safe.

Patrick is persona non grata in the nearby community, where the work of an environmental organization that he founded was responsible for an explosion that permanently paralyzed a young man working for the local logging company. Back in Toronto, Patrick's girlfriend Liz tries to get to the bottom of things with one of Gina's colleagues at the paper.

Much of the plot of the novel takes place within the personal relationships of the people involved, which of course turn out to be key to finding the solution. In a way it reminded me of Grave Doubts, with the hint of danger in each character; you know as a reader when a character shouldn't be letting their guard down, but they don't know, and it's tense.

Toronto is not very prominent in the story, and so much of it is fictionalized that the whole thing could have taken place anywhere. I'm always glad to get to read a female-authored mystery though, and this one kept me turning the pages, so I would recommend it. I would definitely pick up more of her work.

Three CN Towers out of five.

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