________________ CM . . . . Volume xxi Number 15 . . . . December 12, 2014


If It Bleeds. (Rapid Reads: A Nicole Charles Mystery).

Linda L. Richards.
Victoria, BC: Raven Books/Orca, 2014.
159 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0734-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0735-8 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0736-5 (epub).

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Penta Ledger.

***1/2 /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


But then, who trains for this? Does anyone go to journalism school and say, “When I graduate, I want to be the chick who goes to parties and writes about everyone”? Everyone wants to report crime or war, which, these days, is almost the same. When you study journalism, you want to tame the mean streets. You want to solve the city’s problems. To be like a cop with a keyboard and smartphone instead of a gun.

Then life happens. I was lucky. I wanted a byline in the first section. Sure I did. But not enough to kill for it.

Then a dead guy almost fell into my lap. And everything changed.


Linda Richards’ strong female characters in If It Bleeds offer the reader a fresh and interesting perspective into the modern day life of a Vancouver greenhorn journalist in this page turning mystery. Nicole Charles, a mid-20-something journalist fresh out of community college who is lucky enough to run a weekly column in the Vancouver Post, sees herself as one day rising above her current beat of covering swanky parties and art openings to being a ‘real’ reporter. While sipping wine and covering yet another local art opening, Nicole looks to interview the artist only to discover him brutally murdered inside his Audie SUV parked in a sketchy back alley. She wants to cover the story and become the reporter she knows she was meant to be, but there are obstacles in her way, including a more than handsome, established, egotistical, first page reporter, Brent Hartigan. With insider help from the policewoman covering the case, Nicole uses her drive to find answers, build her case and weed out the surprising murderer.

     Richards does well with keeping the reader intrigued. Each short chapter reveals bits of evidence that prompt the reader to continue. Though some of the language seems overused and slightly immature, including “…gave him my digits,” the phrases are believable to the character. The plot is woven with several characters and concentrates on an ancient family feud carried on through three generations. Confusion between names is quickly untangled, and the reader is given a clear picture of how the many players are related. Though there are small moments in this novel that challenge believability, such as when Nicole visits the dead artist’s girlfriend, Caitlin, the overall exciting effect of the novel is not lost.

     The protagonist, Nicole Charles, offers readers insights as to what it might be like to enter into journalism. The novel is told in the first person, and Nicole offers not only her quick detective’s mind, but she also shares her insecurities about being new to the business and being a young woman in a traditionally man’s world. Richards’ presentation of the high paced, high-stakes world of journalism would be of interest to any reader. Further, Richards gives information about catering and the art scene as the plot progresses in this novel. Not only do readers enjoy a plot marked with intrigue, but they also are exposed to insider career details!

     With the setting of the novel in Vancouver, Richards deftly marks out paths around the city using specific names, including Granville Street. This helps readers visualize where the story takes place, despite their not being totally acquainted with Vancouver. Though there are several references to specific roads and the ocean, Richards seems to concentrate on describing the action centers, such as the news room and the alley way where the murder took place. Also, Richards introduces Nicole Charles’ Scottish immigrant family as Nicole stops at her parents’ house in Burnaby, thereby providing a window into the reality of Vancouver as being an immigrant epicenter.

     The close of the novel comes too soon, but it does offer closure and hope for the learning greenhorn, Nicole. Richards has crafted a quick and suspense filled jaunt that keeps readers wanting more.

Highly Recommended.

Penta Ledger is a teacher-librarian at Gravenhurst High School in Gravenhurst, ON

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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