Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Review of "The Calling" [85]

The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe
Mariner Books, ISBN 978-0156033985
May 19, 2009, 384 pages

When things are looking bad...they are probably going to get worse.
For Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef, the de facto head of the police force in Port Dundas, Ontario, things have been pretty bad recently. Her 40+ year marriage has suddenly ended in divorce, her back pain has reached the point of being almost disabling, her small police force is taxed to the limit and subject to cuts from the regional commander at every turn...and now her 87 mother has moved in with her and put her on a diet.
And her drinking problem is always lurking in the background.

But then things take an even more horrible turn. An elderly local woman is found murdered in her home, in a particularly gruesome way. Now, she happened to be terminally ill and there is some suggestion that it is a mercy killing but the horrible details make clear that something else is going on here. When Hazel finds another victim, also terminal, also killed in a particularly bizarre way, some distance east of their town, she feels they may have a serial killer on their hands, and a particularly twisted one, one who feels he has an appalling Calling.
"Murder, she thought. And not just murder, a lunatic murder....This was the stuff of movies, of third handed tales. Even as an end to it all (and unhappy end, it would appear) came closer, it seemed less and less real to her...Nothing, not even a life in law enforcement, could prepare you for the wild imaginings some people, in their passionate madness, could unleash."
This is a book that I liked a lot more before I started thinking about it a bit.

I am always up for a good serial killer. The book is well written, moves along at a good pace and has a number of characters that are quite interesting. But part of the problem is that does not include the main character, Hazel. I found her whiny and not very likable and perhaps worse of all, her actions quite unbelievable. Really this small town chief, with limited resources, is going to undertake an investigation that they suspect spans the breath of Canada? And then there are a number of questionable 'facts', especially regarding forensics. Wow, DNA results, where they separated out 15 different sources..in one day! The difference in appearances between arterial and venous blood..I am no expert but that mistake jumped out at me. Sadly, I could give a few more examples.

Then there is the issue of the author. See Inger Ash Wolfe is a pseudonym for a "North American Novelist". Maybe that would be OK if the author was a well known writer who wanted to write a book that took a different path from their previous books, but that is not the case it seems. I suspect it was just an attempt to generate a little interest. I just found it a trifle annoying.

I had read several rave reviews of this book and so, if it sounds interesting to you, you may want to head over to Book Blog Reviews and see what other bloggers have had to say. But for me this was not really a bad book...I finished it...but not one I can really recommend with much enthusiasm because of a few annoying flaws.


  1. Rats! I was so excited when I read the synopsis, but I hate not liking the main protagonist. And questionable "facts" - ugh. What a pity!

  2. Well, you know it is "the thing" to do now is write murder mysteries with a damaged protagonist, and I'm OK with that. I actually like a little personal baggage. But there is a fine line between damaged and martyrdom. And, like you, I've read enough of these things to spot the obvious forensic mistakes. We didn't just fall off the turnip truck! So thanks for the head's up on this one. I would have been annoyed as well.

  3. I don't like whiny (some of our son's first words were "no whining"), so this probably isn't for me.


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