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Run DownReview - Run Down
A Pratt & Ellis Mystery
by Rick Blechta
Rapid Reads, 2016
Review by Bob Lane
Oct 18th 2016 (Volume 20, Issue 42)

First a few words about the genre. Most of us love mysteries. Why? Because when well written they provide a challenge to what Hercule Poirot calls "the little grey cells". As well, the detective is a sort of stand in for the reader: pay attention, miss no small detail, look for connections in those details, seek information and connections, pay close attention to character development, and to themes and images.

And like dogs and people detective stories come in all sorts of varieties. From a teacup-size Chihuahua to a Great Dane, there is an incredible amount of variety among dog breeds. But all breeds belong to a single species, so scientists have studied the breeds to better understand the workings of evolution, and how such great variation could have arisen within one group. The dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is far more variable in size, shape and behavior than any other living mammal, but most experts now believe that all dogs, no matter how different, originated exclusively from a single species: the gray wolf (Canis lupus) of central Asia, said James Serpell, professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and editor of "The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour, and Interactions With People" (Cambridge University Press, 1995). 

And people? No two humans—not even twins—are genetically identical. Genes and environment influence human biological variation from visible characteristics to physiology to disease susceptibly to mental abilities. Most current genetic and archaeological evidence supports a recent single origin of modern humans in East Africa, with first migrations placed about 60,000 years ago.

Detective stories too exhibit both likeness and variety. They very probably had their genesis with Edgar Allen Poe. We are told, for example, that "Edgar Allan Poe was the undisputed "Father" of the Detective Story. He created so much that is of importance in the field -- literally creating the template for all of detective fiction to follow. (Years later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was to say that Poe "was a model for all time.")" [Source]

RUN DOWN too both participates in the fundamentals of the genre and is unique. Fundamentals: a deep mystery with seemingly unconnected deaths showing up across Canada; a pair of police detectives in Toronto working the case – one a seasoned veteran and the other a relative new comer; political pressures applied by police administrators and the press; victims that at first blush seem to have nothing in common; cover-ups, pay-offs from a long ago death in cottage country.

Unique? Absolutely. This is a mystery that celebrates all of those ingredients mentioned above and does it in a brief, and what's the cliché, "page turning" manner (160 pages) that will have you, like me, reading it in one sitting. Interesting and well developed characters, a serious crime, a need to solve it as quickly as possible, and a believable and satisfactory conclusion.

Rick Blechta, we are told, has two passions in life: music and writing. He is the author of three novellas for Orca and eight novels. I do not know his music but his writing is good. For more information about him visit his web site.

 

© 2016 Bob Lane

 

Bob Lane is professor emeritus in philosophy at Vancouver Island University and the author of Reading the Bible: Intention, Text, Interpretation.

 


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