The best fantastic mysteries by Canadian novelists that will twist you in knots

Norman Bacal Author Of Odell's Fall
By Norman Bacal

The Books I Picked & Why

The Couple Next Door

By Shari Lapena

Book cover of The Couple Next Door

Why this book?

What I love about this story is the never-ending assortment of twists and turns. Just about anybody could have done it in this whodunnit, and we follow Detective Rasbach who whittles it down as we try to stay one step ahead, but never quite manage it.

Anne and Marco go to dinner next door leaving Cora in her crib with the baby monitor on. Anne checks on her every half hour. Should be safe. Shouldn’t it? Until they return home to discover the baby is gone. Who took her and is she still alive? Kidnapping or murder? Along the way, we discover that Anne’s parents don’t respect Marco and they are also quite rich. 

There’s also something about the neighbor’s marriage that isn’t quite normal. The story unwinds with an unexpected conclusion, that either satisfies or horrifies you.

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Trust Your Eyes

By Linwood Barclay

Book cover of Trust Your Eyes

Why this book?

What happens when two brothers are reunited after the tragic death of their father? Thomas is the savant, but is he a schizophrenic? He lives in his bedroom and maps out major cities of the world, in advance of the coming apocalypse. His mission is to save the world by committing to memory every street and location. 

He’s been under the care of his father, but now his “normal” brother has moved in to figure out how Thomas can be cared for going forward. Thomas’s online research uncovers a satellite photo of a possible strangulation in Manhattan, that brings the brothers closer in their mission to track the murderer. In a story that keys off a photo,  there is so much that does not meet the eye, including the true story of how the father died, which is solved, but not in the way anyone anticipates.

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Old City Hall

By Robert Rotenberg

Book cover of Old City Hall

Why this book?

This is the first of his seven novels all based in Toronto, which introduces a cast of characters who wind their way through the justice system: prosecutors, defense attorneys, politicians, detectives, police, and judges in a series which not only tracks a murderer, but provides an insight into issues that have become so problematic in society, whether it’s homelessness, schizophrenia, holocaust survival, or other current social issues. 

There is a twist behind every turn and if you enjoy police procedurals this has been written by the ultimate insider, a Toronto practicing criminal lawyer who has seen it all and has a gift for story-telling.

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The Beautiful Mystery

By Louise Penny

Book cover of The Beautiful Mystery

Why this book?

Set against the backdrop of a secluded monastery deep in the Quebec wilderness, we are also dropped into the middle of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, which in my opinion is a better place to begin than with book one of the series. By the time you’re done, you’ll want to dig into Gamache from beginning to end with all his quirky friends, enemies, and family, and the blurred lines between good and evil.

Gamache is the hero of heroes filled with all the character strengths and weaknesses that make him so respected, lovable, and misunderstood. This mystery has him solving a murder in the monastery with a limited number of suspects in the style of Agatha Christie, but with so much more contemporary depth as well as a bonus understanding of middle age music development.

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Miss Montreal

By Howard Shrier

Book cover of Miss Montreal

Why this book?

If you like your detectives gritty and your murders grizzly, then consider this treasure by an award-winning author. One of the Jonah Geller series, this one has him doing a favor for a very rich dying man, to track down the murderer of Slammin’ Sammy Adler, a Montreal columnist. 

Jonah has his own childhood memories of Sammy which took him back to a geeky kid he protected in summer camp in a previous lifetime. The clues unfold one by one, as do the personal perspectives on Montreal, until Jonah uncovers the secrets behind Sammy’s murder, tied to a story of love – or is it lust?

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