Review: Stray Bullets — Robert Rotenberg

Read: 6
To Go: 94

Book List:
1. The Reader — Bernhard Schlink
2. The Pilot’s Wife — Anita Shreve
3. Creatures of Light and Darkness — Roger Zelazny
4. What We All Long For — Dionne Brand
5. The Guilty Plea — Robert Rotenberg
6. Stray Bullets — Robert Rotenberg

stray bullets cover

I can’t believe that it’s only February and I’m somehow already behind on this challenge. And I have literally no excuse, because I have two days off every week, and rarely use them to read. This is a problem. Anyway, I spent the last week reading Robert Rotenberg’s Stray Bullets, the most recent in his Ari Greene series, and boy, was it ever fabulous.

On a dark, cold November evening in downtown Toronto, shots are fired in a Tim Hortons parking lot and a young boy is caught in the crossfire. Detective Ari Greene arrives on scene to find that witness accounts of the event contradict each other, and an undocumented Romanian immigrant, the only one who may have seen the shooting clearly, is in the wind. The next morning Nancy Parish receives a call from her oldest client, Larkin St. Clair, and has to scrap her vacation plans to prevent him from going to jail for a murder he says he didn’t commit, but was clearly present for.

What I really love about Robert Rotenberg books is that in each book, the central crime seems to be an open-and-shut case, but is quickly complicated by other factors that shed doubt on the alleged murderer’s culpability. Most crime mysteries (i.e. Michael Connelly novels, primarily), start with a crime that’s not so easily solved, and see the detective working through the novel to piece it together. But, I find, sometimes the crimes with supposedly the clearest answers leave room for the most complicated mysteries.

Aside from that, I love that the city becomes sort of its own character. It’s not just there as a perfunctory setting; Rotenberg gives Toronto colour and livelihood, with a healthy dose of historical information. He does the same thing for Toronto that Michael Connelly does for L.A.: gets right down to the nitty gritty street view of the city.

And of course, being a total courts/law nerd, I loved the courtroom scenes. But that pretty much goes without saying.

Next book: not a clue. Something short, because I’ve got to get to 16 books by the end of the month, to put myself back on track.

– Kelsey

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