Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Solemn Vows by Don Gutteridge (Book Review)

From the back page:

“It’s a steamy June in Toronto, 1836, Lieutenant Marc Edwards has again found himself sitting atop a lit powder keg in more ways than one. A prominent politician has been assassinated, and in their haste to catch the killer, Marc, and his troops are responsible for the death of an innocent local man. Making matters even worse, Marc may have accidentally gotten himself engaged to the wrong woman, while the right woman still won’t answer his letters.

“In order to track down the real assassin, Edwards joins forces with Constable Cobb of the newly created Toronto police force. Cobb’s methods are somewhat different from Marc’s; and investigations always end up in the local tavern, where it seems everyone knows far too much about Marc’s romantic entanglements.

“Between keeping track of Cobb, solving the murder, and extricating himself from his accidental engagement, Marc Edwards will be pushed to his limit once more.”

Solemn Vows is the second novel in the Marc Edwards Mystery series set in a historical era that I’ve posted about. Despite not having read the first book, Turncoat, the story had enough detail from the previous one to carry forward. The background of the plot covers the conflicts between the British government and the population, namely farmers and merchants, seeking to resolve grievances over taxes, roads and schools.

Sir Francis Bond Head, the new Lieutenant-Governor, takes some underhanded methods to keep the British government as the ruling force by disbanding the Assembly prior to calling elections. Marc Edwards as his camp-de-aide has concerns over his ethics while trying to be honest. Edwards is assigned to find the murderer of the politician as well as the writer behind anti-government sentiments in the local paper run by William Lyon Mackenzie.

As the story unfolded I began to like this character, Marc Edwards, despite being upstaged by the Toronto cop “Horatio Cobb”. Through Cobb’s investigative talents via frequenting the local taverns for gossip, it is determined that the assassin of the politician was hired.

Edwards feeling spurned by Beth Smallman’s failure to respond to his letters, he accepts the affections of Eliza Dwight-Smythe, niece to a prosperous wine entrepreneur. Despite the new feelings towards Eliza, Edwards discovers the old ones for Beth haven’t quite disappeared.

There were a few areas of concern when Edwards didn’t take back up when he responded to urgent messages, but that allowed the author to set him up. However, despite this there were many comedic romantic and social events to lighten the story and made for excellent reading. The ending came action packed with a satisfying conclusion and a good chuckle.

I hope Don Gutteridge continues to write more about Horatio Cobb in future books in the series, and I look forward to reading the next novel Vital Secrets.

Don Gutteridge taught English at the Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario, before starting the Marc Edwards mystery series.

Review copy provided by Anneliese Grosfeld.

Book format: Trade paperback, 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Available: January 2011
Also available in eBook




David Cranmer said...

Another series you have introduced me to, Barbara. Sounds like a winner and I like that cover and title.

Barbara Martin said...

David, thanks. I'm sure you'll like it.

Reading this book reminded me I haven't done a post on the Rebelion of 1837.

Charles Gramlich said...

When I want to read mysteries, historicals are what does it for me.