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Sorrow Lake by Michael J. McCann

Sorrow Lake

by Michael J. McCann

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Sorrow Lake by Michael J. McCann is an excellent police procedural set in rural Canada. The author's use of description makes the Canadian winter landscape come alive. The characters are fully developed and the plotting is dead on target for a police procedural. I'll be waiting for the second title in what promises to be an excellent series. ( )
  jmyers24 | Dec 2, 2016 |
Nice mystery with the gorgeous backdrop of a Canadian winter. This book has everything, disgruntled cops, seemingly nice victim, hidden drug trafficking, dirty cops, lots of snow and really good burgers. All in all it was a satisfying read, the pace was great, the characters were well developed. Hard to write a review of a mystery novel. ( )
  Jen_Bartels | Nov 7, 2016 |
Murder is not unknown in Sorrow Lake, a small village in eastern Ontario – in a long-ago murder suicide, a man killed his wife and kids, and a couple were once murdered in a break-in. But the killers were quickly identified and these murders were easily solved. When the body of a man is found shot execution style in a farmer’s field and there is nothing pointing to the perpetrators, the local constabulary is ill-equipped to deal with it. The Ontario Provincial Police send in Detective Inspector Ellie March to lead the investigation. Detective Constable Kevin Walker is excited to work with her but, as their investigation digs deeper into this close-knit community, it becomes clear that this was not the crime of outsiders and, as they get closer to the solution, he is in danger of losing more than just his enthusiasm or his career.

Sorrow Lake by author Michael J. McCann is a well-plotted, well-written and intelligent police procedural. Rather than focus on all the more sensational aspects of the crime, instead it focuses on the investigation itself. Clues are collected, leads are followed, forensics is examined, and suspects are identified. All of this may sound boring but, in fact, it was fascinating – it was like getting a glimpse of real police work and it was great fun following March and Walker as they navigate through both the evidence and the politics of solving a murder. ( )
  lostinalibrary | Sep 19, 2015 |
"His breath visible in the early morning air, Detective Constable Kevin Walker made his was down the hill and across the farmer's field toward the body. There was a crust on the snow from freezing rai that had fallen tow days ago, and hos books punched crisp holes as he followed the footprints of the old man who'd spotted something in the middle of his field just after dawn and had come down to investigate."

Thus starts Sorrow Lake by Michael McCann. Sorrow Lake has a reputation, there have been other deaths on this lake. In the sixties, there was a boating accident that killed a man and some kids. There was a murder-suicide where a man killed his wife, his five children and himself. Looters killed a couple, a man and wife. Thus giving the lake it's name, Sorrow Lake.

An elderly man sees something out of his kitchen window and goes to investigate and sees a body lying in his field. The man is William (Bill) Hansen, and he was shot execution-style.

Detective Inspector Ellie March of the Ontario Provincial Police has been called to help wih the investigation in the man's death. Ellie has a complicated life, her children won't speak to her because she has always been involved in her work, so the children live with their father. We learn a bit about Ellie, but it is her skills as an investigator and not her private life that is important to the book. We do learn a little about her private life, and I feel that as the series goes along the reader will learn more about Ellie.

Young and talented Detective Constable Kevin Walker feels that working with Ellie March is an honor as she does have a reputation as being an exceptional investigator. He is inexperienced but makes up for his lack of experience with his enthusiasm. I like his character; he is a likeable and honest cop. He is a bit naive, though, in that he shares and seeks answers from his mentor, Chuck Waddell, who was in the position that Kevin now holds, retired and now running a security firm. Can Chuck be trusted?

There are also a lot of other characters that play pivotal roles in the investigation. Some that will surprise you. Just who was Bill Hansen, what was he involved in and why was he murdered. Clues abound, and investigators are stymied trying to put these clues together as with each suspect is interviewed, they end up at a standstill in the investigation. It takes another detective to start putting the clues together, except he is hoping to advance his career if he is successful with his investigation.

I have read a few other books in Mr.McCann's Donaghue and Stainer Crime series and thoroughly enjoyed them. I think this new series, March and Walker Crime series is off to a great start in this first book. Well written, understandable and suspenseful. You can't go wrong reading this and Mr.McCann's other novels. ( )
  celticlady53 | Aug 13, 2015 |
Detective Inspector Ellie March of the OPP arrives in southeastern Ontario to take charge of a murder investigation after Bill Hansen, a business owner, was shot execution style in a farmer’s field. Assisting her is Detective Constable Kevin Walker. Since the book is described as “A March and Walker Crime Novel,” it is presumably the first in a new series.

The best adjective to describe this book is plodding. It is a tediously slow police procedural offering a detailed look at a homicide investigation: the collection of evidence, the interviewing of suspects, the uncovering and following of leads. This focus on procedural elements makes for a dull read. Much of the information is given in a dry expository style: “As their designated search warrant co-ordinator, Wiltse’s job involved writing what was known as an Information to Obtain a Search Warrant, or an ITO. Essentially an application for a warrant, the ITO presented to the judge all the information forming the basis of their reasonable grounds to believe that the search would produce evidence related to the criminal offence under investigation, at the specified location. Because it was specialized work, and because it was important to have all the relevant information from the investigation in the ITO at the time of the application of the warrant, Wiltse remained separate from the actual investigative work itself. This precaution ensured that the ITO was objective . . . ” Such exposition is the norm rather than the exception: “The process [of cloning VINs] involved taking the unique vehicle information number, or VIN, from a legitimate car and printing it on a blank replica of a VIN plate. This fake plate would replace the VIN in a stolen car. When accompanied by falsified paperwork, it gave the car a superficially clean history. Often thieves would circulate through parking lots at shopping malls or other public places, looking for high-end vehicles of a make and model that matched cars on their shopping list. Using a cellphone, they’d quickly lean over the windshield and photograph the dashboard VIN plates in these cars to capture the numbers for their cloning process.”

There is very little suspense. The only event that has suspense involves a supporting character who almost dies because of his own stupidity. Otherwise, there is a complete lack of any real danger. It seems as if the author mentioned a few punches between players at a hockey game just to add a sense of physical danger.

The two main characters, Ellie and Kevin, are developed fairly well though some of the background information is puzzling. It is repeated several times that Ellie’s daughters hate her. Ellie tells a colleague, “’My kids hate me’” and she also tells Kevin that “they hated her.” The explanation given for their hatred is weak: “But they hated her guts. There was no getting around it. As far as they were concerned, she’d consistently chosen her career – i.e., herself – over them, and they refused to forgive her for it.” An unwillingness to forgive is not the same as hatred.

Another difficulty with characterization is the number of secondary characters who are introduced but not differentiated. There’s Leanne Blair, chief superintendent of the East Region; Detective Constable Janet Olkewicz, the victim liaison officer; Tony Agosta, director of the Criminal Investigation Branch; Inspector Todd Fisher, the detachment commander; Staff Sergeant Rick Tobin, Fisher’s operations manager; Identification Sergeant Dave Martin; Susan Mitchum, Crown attorney; Paul Beeson, assistant Crown attorney; Detective Constable Craig Dart; Detective Constable Monica Sisson; Detective Constable Tom Carty; Detective Constable Bill Merkley; Sergeant Bob Kerr; Detective Constable John Bishop; Constable Rachel Townsend; Detective Ben Wiltse, search warrant co-ordinator; Detective Sergeant Scott Patterson, Leeds County Crime Unit Commander; Jonathan Smart, clerical support; Brenda Milton, data clerk; Constable Mark Allore; Dr. Yuri Dalca, coroner; Dr. Carey Burton, forensic pathologist; Sally Gordon, intelligence analyst. And that’s just the investigative team! It is a real challenge to determine who is important and needs to be remembered.

There are unanswered questions at the end. Such loose ends should be tied up. It is also disappointing that the crucial piece of the puzzle is found because of a hunch.

I looked forward to reading this book because I enjoy mysteries and this one is set in the part of the province where I reside. Unfortunately, the book is monotonous.

Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  Schatje | Jul 6, 2015 |
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