BWW Reviews: WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN Introduces Anthony Bidulka's New Detective
Mysteries and Thrillers
We all love James Bond, but, let's face it, in Ian Fleming's books, he's now a little dated. He's got commitment issues - and when he did commit, his wife got murdered. He's got no family or real family story - everyone's dead before the series starts, and quite far back in his life at that. The staff at his job include a chiding but not difficult boss, a boss's secretary with a crush on him, and a guy who makes him nifty gadgets. He's Scottish. He's... well, it's all a bit dreary and old-fashioned, isn't it?
Why not have some excitement? Why not have an agent who's managed to commit, and even have a child? Surely constant travel and constant danger have to put that into difficult territory. Hey, it's a modern age - what if his wife (or ex-wife) is also an agent? Why not have a family, too - a real family, with problem relatives? The sort that you normally hate to have to visit, but that you can't avoid. And what about bosses with issues, like real government agency bosses? And what if this agent was really cool - oh, say, cool enough to be Canadian? Why should Scots be the only ones who take late-night flights to dangerous international hot-spots while hiding from deranged (now post-Cold-War) Russian operatives? Canadians can do the same thing, and know more about blizzard preparation while they're at it, which is handy if Siberia is involved.
But gadgets - both computer technology to weep for and cars of doom - are still there, because our hero needs information. And, of course, to get from zero to sixty in 3.2 seconds. Yet it's a modern era, so not only are there modern computers here, but a teen computer whiz of a nephew at their helm, because if you really want computer expertise these days, you need a kid, not a middle-aged agency employee.
And there you have Anthony Bidulka's Adam Saint, leading man of WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN, published by Canada's Insomniac Press. An operative for the CDRA, the Canadian Disaster Recovery Agency, when anything Canadian gets destroyed somewhere else, it's his job to check the damage and to figure out how to keep governments out of trouble. Now, though, not only has a plane crashed in Russian territory, but his own boss, who shouldn't even have gone there to check the problem, has died there as well, and something smells wrong to the veteran damage control expert. Things are so wrong, in fact, that doctors are handing him pills he doesn't want, he's cashiering his job, and his existence seems to be disappearing from government records. At a time like that you go home - but Adam Saint hasn't been back to the farm in Saskatechwan since he went to school, and he's not much more popular with his family than with his former employers.
A mother and child are on the run, staying in cheap hotels across the Canadian prairie - and why does her son have laser scopes trained on him? Why are half-clothed, kidnapped women showing up near his family's farm, only to turn on Saint when he sees them in a bar? Why is his ex-wife showing up on his father's doorstep - and why didn't he bother to tell his family he'd gotten divorced? Why did his doctor, the one with the pills, just kill himself? What are poisonous snakes doing in his hotel bedroom? And what's the cold-blooded, cigar-smoking, Scotch-guzzling, designer-scarf-adorned head of his organization going to do to fix anything, especially now that he's walked out on his department of her agency? When all he really wanted was to figure out just why his supervisor died, it all seems a bit much.