CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 17 . . . . April 28, 2006
Not a Trace is the seventh installment in the “Chloe and Levesque” mystery series by Norah McClintock. Two of the titles – Scared to Death and Break and Enter – were recipients of the Arthur Ellis Award for Crime Fiction. Originally set in Montreal, the series follows teenaged Chloe and police investigator, Louis Levesque, as they pick their way through mystery after mystery. The series began with a younger, self-centred Chloe, who was herself a suspect in a crime Levesque was trying to solve. During the course of his investigation, he began dating Chloe’s mother. In subsequent books, the relationship bloomed, marriage followed, and the family – minus Chloe’s sister, Brynn, who stayed in Montreal – relocated to a small, rural, tourist town in Ontario where Levesque assumed the role of Chief of Police.
This most recent book finds Chloe taking on a full-time babysitting job as school closes for the summer. Her mother and Levesque are set to embark on their much-delayed honeymoon – a visit to Montreal and then off to Paris. Since Chloe’s younger sister, Phoebe, is away working as a camp counselor, Chloe is looking forward to a summer of independence. But sudden trouble in the community changes all that. A group of entrepreneurs promoting a new golf course meet armed opposition from First Nations people who want the golf course relocated away from their ancestral burial ground. As the confrontations between the two factions heat up, Levesque sends his wife on alone to Montreal with the promise that he will soon follow. However, when Trevor Blake – the contractor hired by the entrepreneurs and the father of the little girl Chloe babysits – is murdered, Levesque’s departure is delayed again, causing family friction.
During all of this, 16-year-old Chloe has been babysitting and working on a summer romance with Adam Fuller, son of the man promoting the golf course. It is Levesque’s job to investigate crime, but it is the combination of his digging and Chloe’s incidental discoveries that actually solves the mystery. Much of the time Chloe isn’t actively searching for clues, but her associations with a reporter for the local paper, the family of the murdered man, and the suspect charged with the killing, make Chloe privy to information Levesque would know nothing about. Of course, when things get right down to the nitty-gritty, Chloe finds herself smack dab in the middle and in very real physical danger.
McClintock unravels the mystery a clue at a time, effectively stringing the reader along with intermittent red herrings. Chloe’s involvement is believable, and Levesque’s reluctance to include her in his investigation is consistent with his role as Police Chief. Sometimes there seem to be too many characters and complications, though McClintock does a good job of tying them all in by the end of the story.
No doubt this novel will appeal to fans of the crime/mystery genre.
Kristin Butcher, a former teacher, lives in Campbell River, B.C. and writes for children.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.