Exactly how well do we really know our neighbors?
This is the question posed to us by mystery writer Deryn Collier.
She stopped by the Nakusp library on Oct. 19 to give a reading of her latest novel, Open Secret, the second in a series of mystery novels she’s been writing.
Set in the fictional town of Kootenay Landing, Open Secret follows Bern Fortin, the town’s coroner, as he tries to discover who killed a local drug dealer early one morning. In what seems to be an unrelated incident, a reliable family man abandons his van while crossing the U.S. border. He also happens to be best friend to the dead man. Knowing the two incidents are related, Fortin works on uncovering what connects them.
Those in attendance were thoroughly impressed with the novel.
“These are mysteries with the extra effect that they’re simply excellent novels,” said Ien
Van Houten. “They have a depth of character, and I love the fact that they’re set in the
The setting of the book series is no accident. Collier thinks the Kootenays have everything it takes to make a good mystery novel.
“There’s a fascinating place, there are all kinds of different people that live here, the
landscape is really interesting,” she said. “It’s different enough for readers across Canada
that they would identify with this particular place and want to read about it again.”
There are all kinds of people in the novel.
There are eight different point of view characters in the novel, including the father in the minivan, the story’s protagonist, and a young Native girl, Cindy, who has been abused by her family.
Collier found writing from Cindy’s point of view interesting. She tried not to do too much research, and tried to write her story from what she’s heard about what life is like for young Native women on a reserve.
“I think that story is one we all know,” she said. “I just wrote that story from an emotional place of just writing the tragedy of her young life.”
Wanting to ensure the accuracy of what she was writing, she gave the story to some friends, who shared it with some of their friends in a Native community in Manitoba. They read it, and gave her feedback for the exact facts.
Not shying away from a harsher reality impressed people at the reading.
“I was talking to her about how there are unpleasant parts, especially in the second one. I like that she doesn’t run away from that.” said Cedra Eichenauer.
Eichenauer said it wasn’t the blood and gore she was happy to see. It’s the hard things people want to pretend don’t exist that she’s glad Collier is making real.
Open Secret, along with its predecessor, Confined Space, are both available at the Nakusp Public Library.