The Corpse with the Golden Nose
By Cathy Ace
Published: Feb. 26 2013
Company: TouchWood Editions
Somehow I have ended up picking two detective/murder mystery books for Canvember without realizing it. Which is odd because I prefer to read science fiction/fantasy, and one would think that would appear more in this month-long adventure, especially since I started it. My reason for picking this book to review though is less about the genre itself and more about the setting of the story.
Right off the bat I am going to say that this is the second book in the Cait Morgan Mysteries series by Canadian author Cathy Ace. I also have not read the first book or been told anything about it outside of what I have been able to pick up from reading this book. Coming into the book in this manner I did not feel out of place or confused. I have the feeling that the books, while being a part of a series, can be picked up at any point by a reader as what has happened in the past is explained to the reader. Though this could be also due to the fact that this is book two and the author wanted to remind the reader of details from the first book that they may have forgotten. Otherwise I found the book to be very comfortable to read, which is saying something since I normally do not read books out of order.
The main reason why I picked this book, rather than the first, is because where the book takes place: Kelowna, British Columbia!! My own back yard, so to speak, so I was curious to see how that would impact my reading of the book and how that would be used in the story. Having grown up close to Vancouver for a good part of my youth, I am familiar with some of the sights and places and can often pick them out when watching television shows and movies filmed out of the area. The one sight that brings me out of the experience is when the story is supposed to take place in the US somewhere, and yet I see a wonderful close up of Science World (http://www.emapeter.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ScienceWorld_20120323_26641-682×1024.jpg). I suspect this has something to do with having slept over in the building with Scouts and Girl Guides multiple times and have a strong personal connection with it. Having lived in the area now for over 10 years, I wanted to see if I would have a similar experience with this book.
While the story does take place in Kelowna and the author does accurately describe the layout and beauty of the city and the nature around it, Cathy uses fictitious businesses for her characters to interact with and explore. The winery Mt Dewdney Family Estate, where the majority of the story focuses around, I could instantly tell was influenced by the real winery Mt Boucherie Family Estate, but I did not realize until the reading the Acknowledgements at the end that Cathy had visited the winery and received help from the staff and owners. Being familiar with the region, I chuckled as I recognized Dewdney, as there is a well-known stretch of road in the Fraser Valley named Dewdney Truck Road. Anyways I suppose I should talk about the story now.
The main protagonist of the series is Cait Morgan, a professor of criminology and Psychology at University of Vancouver (likely based off University of British Columbia in Vancouver). She seems to be living with Bud Anderson: a retired cop, long-time work colleague, widower, and recent boyfriend of 6 months. In the previous book, Bud’s wife was mistakenly murdered by a killer and in this book, and while both seem to be enjoying their new relationship, Bud still is dealing with the loss of his dead wife. That is not to say that this is Cait’s first kick at the relationship can either. Later in the book the reader discovers that Cait was once in a long term abusive relationship with her husband, who’s dead but do not quote me on that one. It is definitely interesting watching two adults’ journey through a new budding relationship that both are bringing in some amount of baggage from their previous one.
The majority of the investigation is done by Cait and Bud talking to the potential suspects and close friends, trying to figure out who Annette Newman was, what was happening in her life in the final days before her death and the usual: who killed her and why. There is not a lot of creeping into dark houses, multiple bodies popping up during the investigation, butting heads with local law enforcement, and trips to the local coroner’s office. What RCMP interaction that does happen occurs outside of the story and are brief, and Cait is given any documentation about Annette’s death from her sister, Ellen. Through the dialogues from the other characters with Cait, the reader discovers how complex their lives are and how deep the problems are.
My favourite part of the book is when Cait is talking to Colin about Doctor Who and mentions that she got to meet Russell T Davis himself. Is it wrong that I was jealous of a fictional character meeting RT Davis and wanted to strangle her a bit?? With Colin’s passion for science fiction (he’s a fan of Stargate: Atlantis but NOT Stargate SG1 or Stargate: Universe? I am questioning his love for Canadian-made science fiction) and Doctor Who, we get some nice references to Doctor Who, though with most of them being references to the older Doctor Who years and not the recent reboot of the series, I suspect Cathy is more familiar with those older episodes then the newer ones. It would be interesting to know if these types of references came up in the first book or if only in this book because of the Colin’s character.
Overall I enjoyed my read of this book. I did not find the reveal of the murderer to be drawn out or quick to deduce, though I have to admit I was more focused on reading and enjoying the story then wanting to know that. Then I would end up spending the rest of my read banging my head against the desk out of frustration. Definitely something I would recommend to people read when they are looking for a nice light read.
So what did you think about the book? Let me know in the comments below! Also, do you have a similar experience as me with Science World when you are watching something that one image brings you out of the experience?