I really like an historical murder mystery and I think that Sarah M. Stephen has created an enjoyable one in The Dead of False Creek. Based in Vancouver at the end of the twentieth century, the book follows the investigation of Detective Jack Winston into the suspicious death of a young man. At the same time, we have the narrative of a museum archivist called Riley who is compiling material for her first exhibition but in the present day.
I think that having a dual narrative can sometimes overcomplicate a read but Sarah M. Stephen combines the two so that they flow and the two stories and characters maintain their individuality whilst also interweaving with each other to provide interest. Jack and Riley are both likeable characters and the device that is used to link them adds an extra element to the books that make them more than just a detective story.
As well as the two main characters, the ones that Winston encounters during the course of his investigation are well drawn. This is not a book that centres on danger and there are suggestions of dark doings but don’t expect an edge of your seat thriller. However, if you like mysteries where the truth is revealed through steady progress, and a well-thought out storyline, then this will please.
The plot is not overly complicated, the book is easy to follow and the action unfolds at a good pace. I think that comparisons to Murdoch Mysteries are inevitable as Winston is the budding young detective and has, as his sidekick, an enthusiastic and keen constable called Miller, and the time period in which the book takes place is also similar, despite being set on the west coast.
The book leads to a satisfying conclusion where the mystery is resolved and sometimes that’s all that you need from a book – a good story, competent writing, likeable and believable characters and an ending that ties everything together. I think for a five star read, it would need to be more threatening and tense as I felt like it was more about the solving than the danger.
I read this book as a free ARC. This review is an unbiased and true representation of my opinion of the book and I am leaving this review voluntarily.