The Last Good Day: A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery

Overview

The ninth novel of Gail Bowen’s popular series finds Canada’s favourite amateur sleuth, Joanne Kilbourn, on holiday at a cottage borrowed from a lawyer friend, one of a cluster of summer homes owned by lawyers from the same prestigious firm. When one of them kills himself the night after a long talk with Joanne, she is pushed into investigating just what her neighbours are involved with, an investigation that has startling – and fatal – consequences.

Bowen’s depiction of this ...

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The Last Good Day: A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery

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Overview

The ninth novel of Gail Bowen’s popular series finds Canada’s favourite amateur sleuth, Joanne Kilbourn, on holiday at a cottage borrowed from a lawyer friend, one of a cluster of summer homes owned by lawyers from the same prestigious firm. When one of them kills himself the night after a long talk with Joanne, she is pushed into investigating just what her neighbours are involved with, an investigation that has startling – and fatal – consequences.

Bowen’s depiction of this community of lawyers, each in his or her way now divorced from the ideals of justice and mercy that once motivated them all, is both compassionate and hard-nosed. There is Zack, the charming but controlling paraplegic; Blake and Lily, whose daughter, Gracie, struggles to keep her dignity as her parents’ marriage falls apart; Noah, who would rather practise carpentry than the law, and his wife, Delia, who is consumed by worry about the firm. The mounting stress among these lawyers is palpable as Joanne delves into their lives. And Joanne faces her own personal anxieties too when she discovers that her former lover, Inspector Alex Kequahtooway, is mixed up in what seems to be some very sordid legal business.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is a classic whodunit, in which everything from setting to plot to character works beautifully. . . . The Last Good Day is a treat from first page to final paragraph.”
Globe and Mail

"Compulsively readable." 
— Hamilton Spectator

"[A] measured but suspenseful look into the vagaries of human emotions." 
— Windsor Star

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780771014666
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Series: Joanne Kilbourn Series , #9
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

With her Joanne Kilbourn mystery series, Gail Bowen has become “a name to reckon with in Canadian mystery letters” (Edmonton Journal). The first book in the series, Deadly Appearances, which was published in 1990, was nominated for the W.H. Smith-Books in Canada award for best first novel. It was followed by Murder at the Mendel (1991), The Wandering Soul Murders (1992), A Colder Kind of Death (which won the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel of 1995), and A Killing Spring (1996). Gail Bowen is also head of the English Department at the First Nations University of Canada.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The cosmos should send forth a sign when a good man approaches death, but the night Chris Altieri joined me in the gazebo to watch the sun set on Lawyers’ Bay, there was nothing. No fiery letters flaming across the wide prairie sky; no angels with bright hair beckoning from the clouds. The evening was innocent, sweet with summer dreams and the promise of life at a cottage in a season just begun. It was July 1, Canada Day. The lake was full of fish. The paint on the Muskoka chairs was crayon bright; the paddles, sticky with fresh varnish, were on their hooks in the boathouse; and the board games and croquet sets still had all their pieces. September with its tether of routine and responsibility was a thousand years away. Anything was possible, and the gentle-voiced man who dropped into the chair next to mine seemed favoured by fortune to seize the best that summer had to offer.

Bright, successful, and charming, Chris Altieri was, in E.A. Robinson’s poignant phrase, everything to make us wish that we were in his place. Yet this graceful man wouldn’t live to see the rising of the orange sun that was now plunging towards the horizon, and when I learned that he was dead, I wasn’t surprised.

I was a newcomer to the small community of Lawyers’ Bay, renting the cottage that belonged to my friend Kevin Hynd, who was spending the summer exploring the mystical Mount Kailas in Tibet. My trekking days were over. Kevin’s cottage, on a lake seventy kilometres from Regina, with good roads all the way, was adventure enough for me, as it was for my daughter Taylor, my son Angus, and his girlfriend, Leah. We’d been at Lawyers’ Bay less than a week — long enough for me to master the idiosyncrasies of the motorboat and the ancient Admiral range in the kitchen, not long enough for me to know much at all about my new neighbours, the privileged group who, until he walked away, had been Kevin’s law partners and who were still his friends. When they met twenty-five years ago in law school, they called themselves the Winners’ Circle; the name stuck, but Kevin hadn’t mentioned whether the group’s members saw it as a source of pride or irony.

So far I had met the members of the Winners’ Circle only in passing. My family and I had arrived the previous Sunday afternoon, when the partners at Falconer Shreve were just packing up to go home. I’d spoken briefly to Delia Wainberg, the sole female partner in the firm, but the others had only had time to wave and call out a welcome before they headed back to the city and the demands of a high-powered law practice.

The Canada Day party that Falconer, Shreve, Altieri, and Wainberg threw every year to celebrate our nation’s birthday was legendary in cottage country, and I had counted on it as my chance to get to know my new neighbours better. There’d been no shortage of opportunities. I’d water-skied with Falconer Shreve’s juniors and clients, kayaked with Falconer Shreve friends from the city, and played beach volleyball with the cottagers who lived on the other side of the gates that separated Falconer Shreve families from the lesser blessed. Faces glowing with the soft sheen of summer sweat, we fortunate few had spent the last twelve hours savouring the newest, the fastest, the finest, and the freshest that money could buy.

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