April Fool

April Fool

by William Deverell
     
 

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An irresistible story of justice heading off the rails.

Arthur Beauchamp, the scholarly, self-doubting legend of the B.C. criminal bar (and one of Deverell’s most amiable — and crafty — protagonists), is enjoying his retirement as a hobbyist farmer on B.C.’s Garibaldi Island when he is dragged back to court to defend an old client. Nick

Overview

An irresistible story of justice heading off the rails.

Arthur Beauchamp, the scholarly, self-doubting legend of the B.C. criminal bar (and one of Deverell’s most amiable — and crafty — protagonists), is enjoying his retirement as a hobbyist farmer on B.C.’s Garibaldi Island when he is dragged back to court to defend an old client. Nick “the Owl” Faloon, once one of the world’s top jewel thieves, has been accused of raping and murdering a psychologist. Beauchamp has scarcely registered how unlikely it is that the diminutive Faloon has hurt anyone when his own personal life takes an abrupt turn. His new wife, Margaret Blake, organic farmer and environmental activist, has taken up residence fifty feet above ground in a tree she is determined to save for the eagles and from the loggers. Beauchamp shuttles between Vancouver and the island, doing what he can to save the tree and get his wife back — and defend Faloon.

Part courtroom thriller, part classic whodunit, April Fool sees Deverell writing at the top of his form as he puts these characters through some entertaining and very surprising twists and turns.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of the 2006 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel

April Fool thrusts itself brashly into the reader’s psyche like a lumber-jacketed logger at a black-tie affair. Ruggedly individualistic, demanding and determined, its characters are shrewdly etched and realistically rendered.”
Globe and Mail

“Deverell brings back one of his classic characters, wily B.C. Queen’s Counsel Arthur Beauchamp, in this droll, witty novel about crime in the Gulf Islands.”
Toronto Sun

“The dialogue crackles, the style is sharp and compelling, and it’s a treat to spend another book with Beauchamp.”
Vancouver Sun

“Deverell burrows into Beauchamp’s soul, and we see almost everything unfold through his addled but fascinating perspective.”
Vancouver Province

“Deverell writes breathless prose, commas flying here and there with exuberant abandon, as he dissects the nuttiness of his various locations. . . . April Fool spills over with idiosyncratic characters.”
Edmonton Journal

“Hugely entertaining.”
Calgary Herald

“Deverell is one of Canada’s best and funniest mystery writers.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Readers gladly follow all of Deverell’s distinctly drawn characters through tiny outposts on Canada’s West Coast to the courtrooms of Victoria and Vancouver and the fine hotels of Europe. He is a master storyteller with a wonderful sense of humour. The story flows effortlessly, and readers are twigs on the river, along for one hell of a ride.”
Quill & Quire

“[Deverell] is a hugely amusing and self-assured writer, and when you have his gifts it is hard to go wrong.”
National Post

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780771027154
Publisher:
McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
Publication date:
09/28/2006
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Nick the Owl Faloon is sitting beside a stone fox by the name of Eve Winters, who is apparently some kind of shrink. They’re scoffing up fresh-­caught sockeye, sharing a long table with four couples from Topeka, Kansas, who are up here on a wet spring holiday. In spite of all the happy talk, the Owl picks up there is an edge to this dinner, the men regretting they brought their wives along. A fishing extravaganza that put them back a few yards each, and they bring their wives when they’d rather get plotzed and bond.

Though square, they are nice average people, and Faloon hopes they’re well insured so he’s not going to feel bad about the coming night’s entreprise risquée, his plan to whack their rooms out. Two weeks ago, while here on a previous dining experience, he made a clean play for the master key, slipping it off its hook long enough to wax it. He also checked a typical room, there was no nighter to secure the door from inside, just a security chain.

“And are you a sports fisher too?”

It’s Eve Winters, she has finally become aware of his existence, maybe assuming the little owl-­like creature to her left ­can’t possibly be as boring as the other guy beside her, a condominium developer with a spiel of corny jokes. She is somewhere in her thirties, very tall and slender, ash blond, looking in good health — she has done the trail, Faloon overheard her say that, six gruelling days. Sports fisher, she’s politically correct, a feminist.

“No, ma’am, I run a little lodge down the hill. Less expensive than this here establishment, but to be honest my food ­isn’t as good.”

The Owl is speaking of the Nitinat Lodge, which is on a back street in this two-­bit town of Bamfield without much of a view, and mostly gets backpackers and low-­rental weekenders. The Breakers Inn, looking over the Pacific Ocean, survives on its summer fat and still, in March, gets the fishers from Topeka or Indianapolis. And the way these tourists are spending tonight, that’ll pay the chef’s salary for the month. Faloon had to lay off his own cook for the off-­season.

“But I would imagine you have a more exotic clientele.” Eve Winters says in a clear, liquid voice, maybe so her other seatmate can get the point. She has marked down the condo developer as a chauvinist bore, with his story about the fisherman and the mermaid. What is interesting about this guy, to Faloon anyway, is that adding to the bulge of his size forty-­eight kitchen is a thick moneybelt.

Faloon tells Eve Winters how he bought his small lodge a year and a half ago, and how he caters to hikers mostly; he likes vigorous outdoorspeople, finds them interesting. That gets this lovely creature talking about her six days on the West Coast Trail with three friends. He enjoys the refined way she expresses herself: “I had a sense of eternity out there, the wind in the pines, and the wild relentless surf.”

It ­isn’t easy to concentrate on tonight’s job, Operation Breakers Inn, because he feels a little hypnotized by the soft grey eyes of Eve Winters, who ­doesn’t take on sharp outline, she’s like an Impressionist painting. The Owl, who is starting to wonder if he needs his eyes checked, senses her aura, a silver haze floating about her head. No makeup, but none needed, her face tanned gently by the wind and whatever sun you get this time of year on the West Coast. Dressed casually, jeans and light sweater.

Hardly anyone does the trail so early in spring, when it’s still a swamp. This has meant a near-­zero occupancy rate at the Nitinat since last fall, and by now, the final day of March, he is two months behind in his mortgage payments. His financial adviser, Freddy Jacoby, also his fence, warned him, you’ll get three months’ business max, maybe four if it ­don’t piss in June. The Nitinat Lodge was his retirement program, cash in on the tourist trade, accommodate wayfarers in the middle of what turned out to be nowhere or, more accurately, the western shore of Vancouver Island — you can only get here by logging roads or the local packet freighter, the Lady Rose.

Eve Winters says she supposes he’s walked the West Coast Trail many times, and he replies no, not once, and it’s one of his greatest sorrows. A skiing accident prevented him from pursuing his passion for the outdoors, he gets along with two pins in his right leg. That ­isn’t the honest truth, which is that the Owl ­doesn’t like walking more than he has to. Faloon is an easy person to talk to, he brings people out — he’s curious by nature, an information-­gatherer. So he urges her on about how she found Bamfield “unspeakably funky” and stayed on for a week after her three girlfriends left on the Lady Rose.

What Faloon finds unspeakably funky about Bamfield, permanent population three hundred and something, is that it’s almost useless to have a car — you take a water taxi to go anywhere, an inlet splits the town in two, and the terrain on this side is sort of impenetrable. This is the pretty side, though, West Bamfield, with its boardwalks rimming the shore, resorts and craft stores, eye-­popping beaches a stroll away, but East Bamfield has the only saloon. The most attractive thing about the town, though, is the RCMP detachment is a couple of hours away by boat or car, in Port Alberni.

The lady lets drop that her full title is Dr. Eve Winters, and according to the card she gives him she has a Ph.D., her angle being something complicated, a “relationship analyst.” He gets the impression he’s supposed to have heard of her. And maybe he has, he remembers something in one of the papers, a weekly column with her picture, like Ann Landers. She’s not staying here at the Breakers, but renting a cottage down by Brady Beach. The Owl assumes, without asking, that Dr. Winters is alone there. The Cotters’ Cottage, locals call it, is owned by an old couple in East Bam.

“So tell me — is there any entertainment in town on a Friday night?”

Meet the Author

Deverell's acclaimed first novel, Needles, which drew on his experiences as a lawyer, won the $50,000 Seal Award. Since then he has published one work of non-fiction, A Life on Trial, and twelve further novels, including his latest, April Fool, which won the 2006 Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel. April Fool has just been released in paperback.

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