by Rosemary Aubert, Bridge Works Publishing, 1997
NOTE: the cover shown is for the paperback edition, not the original Bridge Works hardcover.
This first mystery novel by Canadian author Rosemary Aubert takes place in and around Toronto. It is the beginning of the author’s series of mysteries featuring Ellis Portal, a judge fallen from grace and living “homeless” in a board-and-tarpaper shack in a large natural park which runs through the center of the city.
While tending his tiny vegetable patch he uncovers a severed hand. On one of it’s fingers is a ring Portal recognizes because he has one exactly like it. It’s one of only five made to celebrate the acceptance to the bar by Portal and four fellow law students many years before.
This grim discovery is unpleasant enough without the reminders of better times that the ring brings back. As little as Portal wants to have anything to do with the people who live “normal” lives in the city he has abandoned – and has abandoned him – he feels he must discover the circumstances behind his “find”. That this will bring him into contact with people from his past whom he would rather never see again he has no doubt.
I liked this one a lot. Portal has suffered the disgrace of having his judgeship stripped from him, has seen both sides of the system and at this point in his life is most comfortable alone, or with the few friends he had made among Toronto’s street people. Given the author’s portrayal of the character, I had no trouble accepting that he would live homeless in a park. Aubert tells a good story. The characters are believable, three dimensional and interesting. The city of Toronto plays a small part in the story, primarily the park and the river that runs through and along it. That some of those friends from years past play a significant role in the story will come as no surprise.
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more FFB reviews at her own blog, along with a complete list of today’s participating blogs and the books reviewed.
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It was a nice surprise, however to have the author drop by to say hello (see comments). Thank you Rosemary.