In a few short weeks, my new book, A Sorrowful Sanctuary will appear. It is, of course, another Lane Winslow caper, where Lane is able to provide the a kind of ‘inside line’ on what Darling and Ames are seeing with their new case, thanks to her education and experiences during the war. But it will also remind Lane, that though she has managed to find a paradise on earth to retire to and begin her new life, not even her remote haven is free from the forces that rocked and divided the world, or indeed, if she but knew, would continue to rock it.
Human stories tend to focus on those who have succeeded and risen above setbacks to create a new life. These tales are an optimistic model and inspiration for people; ‘if someone who is struggling against every deterrent can survive and prosper, then so can you or I’. But in real life, in every group struggling against odds, there are those who fail and fall by the wayside.
Murder mysteries in some way represent an antithesis to the ‘beats all odds’ narrative and instead scrabble around in the murky chronicles of the failed, because someone has been killed, and indeed, someone else has done the killing. In the Lane Winslow books there’s a pattern of who these people are. The victims are, for the most part, innocent people just wanting their own lives to buck the odds, and they die at the hands of people who are not inherently evil; they are people who either are driven to it by an inability to think of another way out, or whose tangled lives have led them in this direction.
Canada in the postwar period is an attractive country for this sort of story. The image of Canada at the time was imbedded in the illustrations of the day; a clean, robust, productive new land filled with opportunity for the hard working, and stunningly beautiful to boot. But a post war period is messy at the best of times, and as we are seeing now, world events created massive movements of people looking for new, safe places to live their lives. The darker underbelly of the times is that Canada was full of prejudices, especially against anything ‘foreign’, so while people came here in large numbers all through the twentieth century, each of them has had to overcome the prejudices of the established population, until their own descendants become the establishment.
Thus Lane, who has put in her six years fighting fascism in Europe, is dismayed to find it lying in wait among the beautiful orchards and shimmering lakes where she too has sought a clean and healthy new refuge.
*poster image courtesy of PRINTCOLLECTION.COM
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