Helen C. Escott dazzles readers with her strong police procedurals, adding a Newfoundland flavouring, which makes the Canadian setting all the more intriguing. This latest piece pushes the limits of both policing, as well as the mysterious world of the Masons in the heart of St. John’s. Escott tackles some great social issues as well, while layering them with a strong procedural that centres on the murder of a man with a complicated past. As Escott makes her mark again, I am left to wonder where she plans on going next and how she’ll be able to top what she has published to date.
When Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers are called to the scene of the Masonic temple in the middle of a snowstorm, they find more than a pile of snow inside. The body of the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Mortimer Williams, turns up, likely a murder suspect. Inspector Nick Myra and his team begin polling around, unsure if this was a Masonic ritual gone awry or someone out for blood.
Bringing a new hire, Constable Donna Whiffen, along with him, Myra begins digging into the Masons, as well as those who belong to the local chapter. There is more to the story than simply a man and his interactions with others, Rather, a secret past away from anything Masonic, lurks in the shadows, as well as the death of the victim’s parents decades before. Myra and Whiffen begin to wonder if someone is trying to divert attention from the true motive, or if everyone might be spinning their own web of lies to ensure they are not caught.
When Myra and Whiffen seek the assistance of a local historian, they discover that the Mason are deeply embedded in architectural events throughout St. John’s, particularly some of the most important churches in the city’s core. Myra also learns of secret passageways and rumours of a buried treasure, all of which might hold strong reasons for wanting to kill someone at the head of the organisation. Still, there are a few nagging feelings about who could be behind it all and how the murder took place. Myra and Whiffen may have busy lives at home, but they are not about to let this derail them from getting to the core of the most important search of their careers, as a murderer sits idly by. Escott keeps the reader hooked until the very end with this stellar piece. I am so pleased to have reconnected with the series.
There is something about how Helen C. Escott writes that pulls me in. Surely, the Canadian angle appeals to me, with some nuances that only those who know the country will understand, but it is also a strong ability to spin a tale and keep the reader engaged throughout. Escott uses her intuitive researching abilities to help support a strong story and keep plots from getting too too predictable. I can only hope there is more to come, as the series and its characters have grown on me.
Escott crafts a wonderful story and develops a strong narrative to guide the reader. Full of historical details about both the Masons and the city of St. John’s, Escott shows the reader that she is interested in reality with a dash of fictional creativity. While keeping the momentum going, Escott pulls on some characters from past novels and adds a new one for the reader to enjoy, as well as weaving in the struggles of home life and the hurdles found therein. The investigation takes on many angles and keeps the reader guessing, as the plot lines diverge at times, keeping the predictable nature of some novels at the door. Escott addresses many social and personal issues, as is usually the case, providing her reader a platform to better understand things and perhaps spark an interest in doing some of their own research. I am eager to see what is in the pipeline for Escott and this series, as each book works so well to develop strong themes and builds on where the previous story ended.
Kudos, Madam Escott, for a look into the mysteries of Freemasonry and more about your beloved St. John’s. I feel the pull to visit, if only to learn more about the historical side of the city that serves as an ideal setting for your novels.