April Fool

April Fool

by William Deverell

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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)

About 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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?”

From the Hardcover edition.

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April Fool 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
thesmellofbooks on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Once again: this isn`t a genre I much read--the contemporary murder mystery. Don`t usually like them much, the grittiness and all. I read this because I was nestled in a Gulf Island cabin and this is a (partly) Gulf Island-based novel. I wanted to see where the author would take it. Deverell`s story and characters definitely grew on me, and his settings--the remote coastal village of Bamfield and the invented Gulf Island of Garibaldi--are much more than mere backdrops. The communities, the people, and some of the issues they face; it all comes together and is quite entertaining. Being a British Columbian myself, I enjoy the gentle and irreverent picture Deverell paints of environmental activism in our fair and tree-enamoured province. He is less willing to be gentle with the Janus-faced developer, a Vancouverite who tries to insinuate himself into the community as a local while intending to turn the island way of life on its head. I appreciate the aging lawyer, shaken out of retirement by the arrest for murder of a favourite client, the jewel thief ``The Owl`` Faloon, and by the ascent of his wife into an eagle nesting tree to prevent its destruction and that of the forest around it. As with many novels, I wish the antagonists were as carefully portrayed as the protagonists, but it is a small blotch and seems to be the accepted form for this genre, from the wee peek I have had.I also like Deverell`s use of real organizations and so on--for instance Sierra Legal Defense (now EcoJustice Canada), particularly as I have a friend on staff there. It is quite amusing to see them depicted as he has done.Recommended.