Saturday, October 13, 2007

When is a Good review Bad?

Well, never, really. But because of odd timing, my second novel, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere received two good reviews way too early.

The book was scheduled to come out from ECW Press in Canada in May, 2007. ARC's were printed up and sent out. Then the US rights to the book were bought by Harcourt and it was too late for them to get it out in 2007, so publication was scheduled for spring/summer 2008. ECW decided to wait and publish at the same time.

But two reviews were already done and couldn't be delayed. And both of them, Margaret Cannon in the Globe and Mail and Quill and Quire, were really good but won't get reprinted when the book comes out, so I'm going to put them here.


From the Globe and Mail:

Thanks to this terrific second novel by the author of Dirty Sweet, I know all I need to about urban grow- ops. And that's only the beginning of this smart, slick story.

McFetridge's brother is a police officer and it shows. His Toronto cops are the requisite diverse assembly of race and gender, with a buffoon racist goon added.

But the group, led by Detective Gord Bergeron and his new partner, Detective Armstrong, is more sophisticated than is usual and McFetridge loves the sound of these guys - and women - talking.

An unidentified "Arab-looking" guy fell, jumped or was pushed off the roof of a high-rise. He had at least a passing acquaintance with Sharon MacDonald, currently under house arrest with a tracking device on her ankle after she assaulted a customer in a local massage parlour.

She has a week to go, but the death has disrupted her real business, the profitable harvesting of pot from the grow rooms she runs in the building. That could mean a takeover by one of several competing groups. Sharon needs an alternative supply, and the cops out of her hair. The trouble is, she is a person of interest in a very nasty crime.

McFetridge doesn't rush this story, although the opening pages - as the body bounces down on a whore and a john in a Beamer - are fast, furious and hilarious. From there, he moves the story from cops, to high-class escorts and low-down dives.

Sharon MacDonald is a marvel as she moves from plan to plan to keep her little world together, all the while tethered to the tracker and with a floor full of pot growing leafier by the hour.

There's a lot of fun in this story, but a lot of unpleasant reality, too. McFetridge has a great ear for dialogue and a great eye for Toronto - even for those people and places that you might, as a rule, prefer to miss.


And, from Quill and Quire (a starred review, no less):

Next time I need to score handguns, hookers or heroin in Toronto, I'm going to look up John McFetridge, a crime writer who clearly knows his way around the city. One of the key elements in McFetridge's second novel, which bears the intentionally ironic title Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (after the Neil Young song), is the sheer immensity of what the author points out is North America's fourth-largest metropolitan centre. In one of the book's spot-on and street-wise descriptions of Toronto's disparate locales – in this case the Jane/Finch shopping centre – McFetridge comments that the city, "built its ghetto way out in the suburbs, never thinking it was a growth industry." This Nowhere really is known to everybody who lives in a big enough city.

Growth is the literal root of the evil driving the book, which crashes open with a man's swan dive from the balcony of an apartment building that houses more marijuana plants than residents. A pair of detectives is tasked with not only figuring out if the death is a homicide or suicide, but with the less-than-simple act of giving the body a name. By the time they have that name, fully halfway through the book, the entire homicide division in entangled in the case, and the city has been crossed repeatedly. Crime, like rust, never sleeps.

Not so much larger than life as just alive, the Greater Toronto Area itself is the most conflicted protagonist in a novel brimming with them. "As if happy people in rent-controlled public housing will live side by side with happy people in expensive condos," spits a seasoned patrol officer surveying a housing project being forcibly converted into a mixed-income neighbourhood.

McFetridge's style can be compared to Elmore Leonard's, as both writers seamlessly mix the police procedural with perp procedural to underscore the parallel lives of members of the opposing teams. But where leonard tends to favour Hollywood-homicide banter, McFetridge keep the quips to a minimum, prefering punch to panache. As a result, the only time his prose gets purple is when fists are flying.

Quill and Quire – March 2007


Well, we'll see what happens when the book is published, sometime around July, 2008.

1 comment:

Corey said...

I'm already lining up. I thought Dirty Sweet was tremendous fun, and my library wil definitely be getting the 2nd one.