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“It’s great to read a book set in Toronto and Susan Glickman, poet, editor, critic and creative writing professor, does it proud in this debut mystery set in the lovely hidden enclave of Wychwood Park. The story begins with bookstore owner Liz Ryerson walking her dog in the park. Dog smells something, goes to hunt, scratches up a body. Suddenly, we are in whodunit land, with a totally familiar setting which Glickman sketches like a master. Reading along, I was reminded often of the late great Eric Wright’s wonderful cop novels and Jack Batten’s PI stories, both located in Toronto neighbourhoods with people anyone might recognize as types. All that said, the mystery is a good one, with a nice puzzle and a deft, smart woman to sort out the clues. It’s short and fun and well-written and perfect for a rainy afternoon at home. Let’s hope Liz Ryerson returns soon.”
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A Brief Synopsis
While walking in her dog, Jasper, in Toronto’s Hillcrest Village, indie book store owner, Liz Ryerson, stumbles upon a corpse. Liz soon discovers the murdered man is, James Scott, a realtor who recently gave her an appraisal on the building she co-owns with her playboy ex-husband, Adam.
Liz’s complex but predictable life is suddenly in upheaval: Adam is leaving on an extended trip with his beautiful, young lover, Laura; her daughter, Samantha, has taken up with a “bad boy” and is exhibiting alarming signs of anorexia; and her son, Josh, is off doing his own thing. To complicate matters further, Adam is pressuring Liz to sell the property which also houses her book store, Inside of a Dog. Amidst this chaos, Liz abetted by her eccentric new friend, widowed retired classics professor, Maxime Bertrand, embarks on a quest to solve the murder of James Scott.
In her recent novel, Safe as Houses, Susan Glickman offers a convincing portrayal of a woman attempting to exert control over her world gone mad. Twists, turns and diversions in the story propel it forward at a satisfying pace. Liz is a likeable character and her relationship with Max is endearing but plausible. For book lovers, Liz’s store, Inside of a Dog, is a charming character unto itself. Still, the story has a dark side and it is in this underbelly, Safe as Houses, sets itself apart from your predictable, amateur sleuthing story.
Ms Glickman choses to unravel the underlying events in an unexpected and well-considered format: interspersed chapters are skillfully told from the point-of-view of the victim. In this way, Liz’s story and the victim’s unfold in tandem to a satisfying conclusion.
My Final Word
Safe as Houses is a well-paced mystery having all the usual “suspects” one expects in that genre. The twist is in the telling. And that, in my opinion, is what sets this book apart from other mysteries on my shelf.
Safe As Houses, by Susan Glickman
What is it about bookshops and murder? Glickman’s new novel is a cozy murder mystery about how lives are transformed after the discovery of a body in Toronto’s tony Wychwood Park neighbourhood.
But one of the most delicious parts of the book is the setting: a bookshop owned by Glickman’s protagonist, Liz Ryerson, near Bathurst and St. Clair in downtown Toronto. The shop is called “Outside of a Dog,” from the quote by Harpo Marx (“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend“) and also because there is indeed a dog (with whom Liz is out walking when she stumbles across the corpse). And the reader is able to vicariously experience the joy Liz takes in working in her shop. She spends time thoughtfully curating her collection and assembling themed tables, and reading the lists of books within the text was so much fun and an absolute bookish pleasure.
Kerry Clare, http://49thshelf.com/Blog/2015/10/01/Books-About-Bookshops