One-Eyed Jacks

Luanne Armstrong

Great Britain turns out brilliant mystery writers, one after another, most of them women. Their books are witty, with twisted plots and psychological depths. American mysteries tend more toward the thriller, with blood and guts and shot-riddled endings. Canadians have not yet produced enough mysteries to define "the Canadian mystery," but Brad Smith's book One-Eyed Jacks (Doubleday) is a welcome addition to this evolving genre. Set in the Toronto of a much earlier era, the story clips along at a fine pace. It's witty, suspense-fill and creates a wonderfully sustained mood and flavour of a bygone decade. The hero, Tommy Cochrane, is a washed-up boxer with a black sidekick named T-Bone. His long lost girlfriend is a smart, cynical torch singer, still carrying a torch for Tommy, who needs money to buy his grandfather's farm. The kicker is, he can't box any more because of a brain aneurysm. Evil bad guys and not-so-evil bad guys get involved, and the right people win in the end. This is a satisfying read on all counts. We don't publish much good trash in Canada, which is too bad: sometimes we need a break from all that great literature. I hope Smith writes another book soon. I'll be watching for it.

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Luanne Armstrong

Luanne Armstrong is a writer, editor and publisher. She has published over fifty stories and essays in magazines and journals, and is the author of fourteen books, including poetry, novels, and children’s books.



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