This is some kind of review from me about this book "The errand boy" that I finished... well... early this morning! and truly enjoyed. It was written by a member of AU, Don, who agreed to the fact that I would post this here:
When I started reading "The Errand Boy", it seemed so dense, and I was struck straight away by the richness of the descriptions both of the characters and their environment, by what they did, and by how deftly and aptly the story allowed me to make my own discovery of the main character, Hector Bellevance.
So, I told myself, this is a book which I will enjoy, take my time reading and savour... Well, I was proven wrong. I read at night, and unless I was totally exhausted I couldn't put it down. The more I read, the more I wanted to read.
The plot seemed to go in all directions at once and new characters appeared, some already well defined, some less so, but a lot of possibilities were left to the imagination, suggesting a range of surprises to come. It was impossible for me to guess what twists this book would take. Hector's family was deeply involved in the unfolding mystery. So were his friends. I slightly resented him for not taking enough time to be with his comatose wife in hospital (maybe because I am a woman), but at the same time, I understood.
And I could forgive him because of the way events kept happening around him and to him at such a fast pace. And there were so many unsavoury characters it was hard to keep track... It was to his benefit as a detective that Hector lived in such a close-knit community with some very very good friends and, at the same time, knowing so well so many of the secondary but important characters, too.
As the constable in his little Vermont town, he found himself personally involved in the first terrible murder--and as events unfolded, he was implicated up to his eyeballs in a convoluted series of crimes that left him physically battered and in despair sometimes, but never defeated. And never did he fail to be as compassionate as he was determined. He was a hard man when he had to be but definitely not a hardened man.
I couln't wait to get to the last page and the totally unexpected conclusion.
Well done, Hector!
Thanks for this great review, Marianne!
I'll just add that anyone who likes sophisticated mysteries will enjoy my Hector Bellevance suspense series. The three books are all set in contemporary Vermont and are inspired by actual crimes. They have been published by Harmony/Crown and Three Rivers Press, and they are available in libraries and through Amazon. Some booksellers can sometimes order copies. The series is set in contemporary Vermont and features an atheist detective, who, by professional inclination, tends to keep his thoughts to himself.
The first is COLD COMFORT (2001), and the second is THE FIFTH SEASON (2005). The most recent novel in the series, THE ERRAND BOY, was released in 2009.
I also enjoyed Don's book very much, the other two in the trilogy also. And I'm usually not a fan of the genre.
I also confess (I have said this before) to have developed a bit of a crush on Hector Bellevance :-)
I've just ordered The Errand Boy - it will take more than 6 weeks for delivery (so they say at Amazon.ca)
It should make for an interesting read.
One colorful September day back in 1984, two acquaintances of mine, Roland and Maram Hanel, were brutally slain in their isolated ski chalet in the hills of Jay, Vermont, each shot multiple times with a 9mm machine pistol. Nothing was stolen from the house, nor did investigators uncover any helpful clues. The case remains open today, and the Hanels' executioners are unknown.
More than 10 years passed before I got around to looking into the crime myself with a loose plan to use the peculiar circumstances surrounding my neighbors' deaths (and surrounding the frustrated investigation) in a novel about the dismal solve-rate in this country of stranger-on-stranger homicides. I talked to the state police detectives, the state's crime lab technicians, the medical examiner, the state's attorney, Maram's parents in Montreal, the Florida Coast Guard, and many others. The 650-page novel I spent three years writing featured a Vermont dairy farmer who, because of how he reported finding the victims' bodies, finds himself the prime suspect in the killings. Even his own wife is not sure of his innocence. So he embarks on his own stubborn, inept, and willful investigation. By the end of the story, he manages to exonerate himself--although he does not ever find the true killers.
My agent sent THE SUGARWOODS MURDERS to half a dozen publishers. They all passed. Meanwhile, an old friend, the novelist Howard Mosher, read the manuscript. He said, "Don, I think what you've got here is actually a mystery. It wants to be a genre novel, but the book you've you've written is almost anti-genre. What this story needs is a sleuth character who solves the crime."
Howard was right. That's how Hector Bellevance was born. I spent two more years rewriting the book, introducing Hector, a Boston Police Dept. homicide dick who has retired under a cloud--he's the half-brother of the accused dairy farmer--and inventing an outlandish set of motives and villains partly inspired by the factual events. The revised literary mystery, now called COLD COMFORT, came in at 370 pages or so.
It took another year and a new agent to seal a two-book deal with Shaye Areheart at Harmony Books for COLD COMFORT and a sequel. At the time, I told everyone, "Hey, the good news is I sold my suspense novel! The bad news is I have to write another one." It was a good line, but the truth was I really wasn't sure I could write another one. These things don't come easy to a writer like me. My stories tend to be less plot-driven than character-driven, so they're quirkier and more surprising than many of the more standard plot-driven mysteries, and they take a lot longer to write.
I latched onto another inspiringly awful local crime (Google "Carl Drega" if you'd like to know more), and over the next three years I wrote the second Hector Bellevance suspense/mystery, THE FIFTH SEASON. It came out three years ago to excellent notices. Kirkus Reviews said, "Bredes writes superbly and creates compelling believable characters." And Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times Book Review wrote, "...inexplicable outbursts of violence take years, generations even, to fester into a poisonous hatred of one's neighbors--a position that Bredes argues with grave eloquence in this disquieting novel."
The third in the series, THE ERRAND BOY, was released in 2009.