Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cold Girl: A B.C. Blues Crime Novel by R.M. Greenaway 2016

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I had to add this new read to my Good Reads and write a brief review. It was that good!
Cold Girl: A BC Blues crime novel by R.M. Greenaway

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Couldn't put this one down and read it over a 3 day period this May. Reminded me very much of my time up North and visits to Hazelton. A great B.C. setting with all the complexities that the entertainment business can bring. Also a look at the highway of tears and what can happen when the road is long and the transportation ops, few. "...she was on foot and her destination was the highway... or the long gravel road that led away from the fairground to west, dark and empty, the perfect pace for the man to catch up, reach out and take hold." It is man against nature, very much alive and dark. It is personalities, politics, the hunt, the hunter and the hunted, women and men, achievement and lack of it, dreams and realities (And lots, lots more) This is a first novel, awarded even before it was published. Way to go Rachel Greenaway. Look forward to the next one and the continuing adventures of Dion.

Love the cover of this book! Often, a title will appeal and then I will imagine my own first photo. But this one really draws you in and takes you down that lonesome highway. The blue tones are cold tones and the word, cold, brings to mind, cold as in dead, cold as in psychopathic, cold dread, cold shock, cold as in unemotional, overly focussed, cold as in left out of friendships or close relationships, the coldness of weapons, the cold of vast winter forests and snow. This design is by Laura Boyle and the cover image is by @Ollyy/

And here is Dion, city detective, recovering from a head injury, dreading snow and wilderness and on his first small town assignment, trying to track a killer but losing his way."He turned to head back to where he thought the distant main lights should be, thinking about wolves and now his own heart banged harder because he couldn't see his own tracks in this dim, wavering light beam."
Well, who hasn't been out there with flashlight batteries on low? Who, as an adult, gets lost? Rachel adds further suspense: "He'd heard the predatory noises, the secretive shifting, the low breathing, the salivating, the circling."

So many things conspire against Dion: Nature, small town politics, police politics, injury, guilt, faulty memory, panic, reputation (not too bright? inattentive? death of a work partner) and his own 'outside of the box' approach to finding answers. He is looking for consistent patterns, regularity, predictability and supports, like a quality watch, that will keep him on time and will always work. He is looking for an anchor, which turns out to be his own insight and persistence, even though even these fail him at times. His struggle is a compelling one; he is flawed but gets the job done. I want him to recover and develop connections but he may continue to keep searching, as do other well known and loved crime fighters. "And now he felt so tiny and alone, here in the vastness of the night."

There are other police, men and women, all realistic, large as life people that you want to see more of.
There is that constant tension created by different leadership styles, ambition, fear of failing oneself or 'the force', all going on while trying to solve at least three mysteries: the disappearance of two artists/musicians as well as the murders on the highway of tears. So many possibilities about who the guilty might be: cases are built and you think you know and then, others are presented. This is complexity and depth at its best. A visual tree of the characters might be helpful, although I think necessary only for a TV Series or movie, as a potential cast.

I read a review of COLD GIRL and it was also highly recommended by writer, Deryn Collier, so I decided to meet Rachel, when she attended a Noir Crime Writers' read and share meeting, in Vancouver. It was fabulous to be read to at The Shebeen, 210 Carrall Street, Gastown. We met in a hidden back room of this whiskey house. So just imagine, whiskey, great writers, no loud music or sports television, and the chance to talk with Rachel my high school students used to say, "You mean she is alive and not dead like so many we have to read!" They would be captivated by the author and her book, I am sure.

My Questions, Her Answers:

CT Any surprises in writing this book?
RC Yes, private life is now more public. Many chances to meet other writers and readers. I have done book launches and now look forward to sharing my writing. Other people do really want to know more.

CT How did your main character come to you? Especially Dion and David Leith?
RG They are based on people you might meet and imagine more, some you might see in the movies or maybe loosely from your other work. (She is a court reporter)

CT How did you choose writing or how did writing choose you?
RG I have always written, since I was little. She writes for work, as well. She started writing Crime, at age 30 so wanted young characters. She is at a certain stage in her writing as they are in their careers. She likes small towns and writes from her own experience with them.

CT What are major influences on you to move your writing forward?
RG Rachel says: "Writing from rejection can be compelling." So you get those letters but you keep going. Seems like they are almost a form of encouragement? Good feedback keeps her going. Louise Penny is an inspiration, too.

CT What are some of your favorite crime novels?
RG Allan Emerson: Death of a Bride and Groom, Louise Penny, Ruth Rendel, Gail Bowen, Deryn Collier, Holley Rubinsky - so many writers in her circle and out there.

Rachel is an avid listener and I think, a great analyst. Don't know how she manages to work at a very exacting job as well as writing such a fine read. She is passionate about her writing and credits everyone around her with being strong supports for her achievement. I look forward to more from Rachel Greenaway!

Photo by Dianna Drahanchuk

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