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Last of the Independents: Vancouver Noir by…

Last of the Independents: Vancouver Noir

by Sam Wiebe

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176587,099 (4.36)2



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Found as 2015 Shamus Award Finalist. BOOK not in Merlin. Sample available. ( )
  rwt42 | Sep 25, 2016 |

Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Publication Date: August 18th 2014

Another Canadian suspense novel. This one set in Vancouver. Michael Drayton is a 29-year-old private detective, who still haunted by the case of a missing little girl he was unable to save. When another father comes in telling about his son gone missing together with his car, he takes the case. But it's not going to be easy as neither the police nor the last private detective on the case really cared about it.

It was a decent novel, but nothing special. The story was okay, it still felt a bit too long for what was told in the end. Near the ending the plot became a bit unbelievable and I was not really happy with the ending. I had seen it before. It has a first person POV from Michael but then decides it wants to tell something he's not present at. This is solved by shifting the POV slightly in a confusing way. I had to read twice to know that he wasn't present. The story is made a bit lighter to read by a sub-plot containing a necrophiliac in a funeral home, which Michael has to stop before he strikes again.

Micheal is very young for what he has done already. He's an ex-cop and had already run his private detective agency for a few years. And he's only twenty-nine. I wonder how long he's actually been a cop. He's surrounded in his job by his secretary/assistant Kathleen, a boy with a completely different job who for some reason is always around, and a witness/(possible suspect) from his newest case. Together they form a weird group and there is even *sighs* a hint of a love triangle (they now have escaped into other genres besides YA). ( )
  Floratina | May 26, 2016 |

Winner of the Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel, 2012
Twenty-nine-year-old Michael Drayton runs a private investigation agency in Vancouver that specializes in missing persons — only, as Mike has discovered, some missing people stay with you. Still haunted by the unsolved disappearance of a young girl, Mike is hired to find the vanished son of a local junk merchant. However, he quickly discovers that the case has been damaged by a crooked private eye and dismissed by a disinterested justice system. Worse, the only viable lead involves a drug-addicted car thief with gang connections.

As the stakes rise, Mike attempts to balance his search for the junk merchant's son with a more profitable case involving a necrophile and a funeral home, while simultaneously struggling to keep a disreputable psychic from bilking the mother of a missing girl.
My take.........

5 from 5 and the best book of the month so far. More Canadian crime fiction, another debut novel and a PI tale to boot; which hand on heart are my favourite type of sleuth within the genre.

Wiebe introduces us to Michael Drayton, an ex-cop running his own investigative agency. Drayton has a couple of office assistant-cum-employees-cum helpers-friends – Ben Loeb and Katherine Hough. There’s an interesting dynamic between the three of them. Loeb is a game designer and a constant reminder to Drayton, not that he needs one of an on-going, unsolved, going-nowhere missing child case. The child in question is Loeb’s sister and while the case file sits permanently on Drayton’s desk and Michael himself works it, you sense Loeb has given up. Hough is the part-time employee, someone more committed to her college education and not totally sure if working with Drayton is wise.

Drayton himself is interesting. He lives and cares for his elderly grandmother and frets over his cancer-ridden pet dog, not quite able to do the right thing by them both and let her go. In the course of the book we cross paths with his ex-fiancee, Mira Das and her partner, Gavin Fisk. Das and Fisk are both cops who become involved in Drayton’s missing child case. The fact that Das and Fisk cheated on Drayton together adds another layer of intrigue to the relationships both personal and professional during the course of the investigation.

As well as the Loeb – unsolved, Drayton has two cases on the go through the course of this book. Another missing child case which has stalled and a disturbing sex case involving someone interfering and defiling some corpses at a funeral home. Following Drayton as he pursues both cases, juggling his time and his limited resources while managing his home situation is fantastic. The stop-start-stall nature of the cases and the gradual uncovering of facts, witnesses, leads, plans and ultimately action gradually brings the plot to a boil.

Wiebe nails it. Plot, pace, character, setting, action and resolution with moments of genuine tension and dread as the climax approached. Causing this reader to scratch head and ponder………how did he do that?

I’m hopeful this is the start of a series as opposed to a one-shot deal, but I don’t know.

Probably September’s book of the month.

Sam Wiebe can be found here on his website - http://samwiebe.com/ and @sam_wiebe on Twitter. The book was recently published early September by Dundurn Press who can be found here - http://www.dundurn.com/

My thanks to Caitlyn at Dundurn for allowing me to get this one via Net Galley. ( )
  col2910 | Oct 7, 2014 |
One caveat: I know Sam Wiebe personally. He was my student when I was a TA at SFU in the Fall 2008 term. I haven't seen much of him in the intervening years, and this is the first of his writing I've experienced since marking his assignments six years ago. Reading is part of my job description, and this is not the first time I've read something written by someone I know; I do my best to remove my subjectivity, just as I ask my students to do. Now my review:

This is the debut novel of Vancouver writer Sam Wiebe, and the first in his proposed Vancouver Noir series following the cases of Michael Drayton, former Vancouver Police (VPD) officer and current independent private-eye. Independents was the unanimous winner of the Unhanged Edgar Award in 2012, an award given for the best unpublished mystery novel in Canada. Fortunately for us, Dundurn picked up Wiebe’s book, and we can now settle down to an evening or two of highly entertaining modern noir.

Drayton is a private detective, the self-proclaimed "Last of the Independents." This is likely an homage to The Pretenders 1994 album, which fits right in with Drayton's age and type - 29, and a bit of an outsider. His friends and his work are completely indivisible - they either work for him, or are his work. Drayton's life is complex, and nothing about him is easy. He's sympathetic yet flawed, honest to a fault, hard as nails, yet unable to euthanize his direly ill dog.

Drayton's personality is where the novel absolutely shines. He's a true warrior on the streets, if a reluctant one. Never claiming to be more than he is, his well-developed sense of justice and a clear understanding that the world isn't divided up into Manichean black and white means that he can easily shift between the worlds of official Vancouver and its darker alleyways, speaking the language he needs to be able to deal with cops, bosses, and bagmen. No rose-colored glasses on Drayton's eyes - he sees all the world's shades of gray. And despite his sense of honor and justice, when facing his own heart of darkness, Drayton can - and does - make the difficult decisions that define a person.

I think that terms like "tour-de-force" and "triumph" are bandied about far too easily in reviews, especially by those looking to get their copy on the front of a book or magazine. I've never used those terms myself, but here I think they do apply - Wiebe's debut novel shows a masterful touch, an awareness of the giants whose shoulders he is standing upon, and a great deal of promise for his new Vancouver Noir series. I look forward to reading more of Michael Drayton's investigations in the future. ( )
  StephenZillwood | Sep 15, 2014 |
I read this book as an electronic advance reading copy (e-ARC) provided by Edelweiss, and I have submitted my review to the publisher via that web site.

This book is an excellent noir mystery: hardboiled and cruel, but also comic. A twisted plot and colorful characters create a fascinating but bleak story. ( )
  librarianarpita | Jul 11, 2014 |
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