The Calling

Mystery fiction characters are not a happy lot.  Other than Punchbowl Hill’s Charlie Chan or some of the personality-less Golden Age protagonists, most heroes are punished for living in the vicinity of a crime. Hazel Micallef is no exception. 

Hazel is a police detective in the under funded and under staffed district of Port Dundas, Ontario, Canada.  She is a divorced woman who at age 61 is living with her mother.  She pops pills for a bad back and has a personality that would be kindly described as iracible. 

In her first case, The Calling, she stumbles onto indications that a serial killer may be hiding behind the disguise of a mercy killer.  Because of whom she is and where she works, she cannot get the attention needed to begin to solve this case, so she makes things worse by going rogue. 

Of course, all of this endears her to a book discussion leader.  While plot, setting and theme are all strong here, most of the attention of my group who recently discussed this title was focused on Helen.  “Why would she…” are comments from the group that create questions while the discussion is ongoing. 

As an added bonus to this discussion, you can try to trace the mystery of the author herself.  Touted as a literary writer from Canada hiding behind a pseudonym, the identity of Inger Ash Wolfe can be as much fun for the group to solve as was the case of the serial killer.

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About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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