Another Margaret (Randy Craig mystery #7) by Janice MacDonald (Ravenstone Books trade paperback, 15 August 2015).
Randy's friend Denise coerces her to help with the planning of their 20-year grad school reunion at the University of Alberta. Then, she happens to mention that a posthumous manuscript by Margaret Ahlers, the subject of Randy's MA thesis, had been found, which Randy asserts is impossible.
The concurrence of the two causes some reminiscence on Randy's part.
Twenty years earlier, she'd been living in Toronto, working rather successfully as a freelance writer. But it was becoming more and more difficult to find jobs, and searching for them was no longer fun. Randy happened to read a debut novel by Margaret Ahlers which intrigued her so much that she wanted to learn more about the author.
This was just the trigger that was needed for Randy to explore her hidden aspiration to return to university. Some consultation with a friend in academia revealed that the sole expert on Ahlers, Dr. Hilary Quinn, was an associate professor at the University of Alberta, so that is where Randy enrolled.
We follow Randy's memories of arriving in Edmonton and her generally futile search for information about the reclusive author. Dr. Quinn is uncooperative, and Randy's application to be her summer research assistant is denied.
After applying for all the RAs and grants she could find, Randy finally receives a small travel grant to visit the area where Ahlers' novels was set. So, she rents a car, and off she goes to the Peace Country in Northern Alberta.
This was the part of the story that excited me most: I spent my early teen years in that area, and we drove back and forth from Edmonton (the nearest large city) countless times. I even pulled out my old road map of Alberta and followed Randy's travels, "seeing" many of the places she visited in my mind's eye.
While I love Janice MacDonald's mysteries, which are extremely well-constructed, my enjoyment of them is increased a million-fold because I know the settings so well. Of course, those who are not so familiar with Edmonton and points north will still enjoy her accomplished, literary prose.
The publisher has generously offered a copy to one of my readers. Please comment below by 21:01 a.m. on Monday, October 5th, and don't forget to include an email address where I can contact you if you win. There will be one winner in the U.S. and one winner in Canada, so please indicate which country you are in.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a galley for review purposes.