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.