CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 11 . . . . November 11, 2011
Still, Julie’s weekly Tae Kwon Do class is not enough to save her from the assailant who has been stalking her since her departure from the gym. And so, she becomes the first of five victims of a serial killer and rapist who terrorizes West Van. His victims are all women who work out at the West End Fitness Centre. The killer’s MO (modus operandi) follows a well-defined pattern: sexual assault of a bound and gagged victim, murder followed by decapitation, and with one exception, deposit of the headless naked body in Stanley Park or its environs. The murderer makes a kill every 13 days, and the crime is always preceded by a threatening letter to Vancouver’s Chief of Police, peppered with Biblical mis-quotations.
Sebastian Casey is a 40-year-old reporter for the West End Clarion, a small community newspaper. At a recent annual physical, his doctor has given Sebastian the good news (“for an old guy of forty, you’re not doing too badly”) and the bad news, (“It’s the weight. . . . you’re twenty pounds over.” Sebastian’ doc has also reminded him that his potential life expectancy will improve if he finds himself “a good woman,” After a lunch with a 60-year-old colleague who is dedicated to his work-out regime (and has the physique to prove it), Sebastian decides to scout out the West End Fitness Centre. Seeing guys much older and much fitter is an incentive to stay and get into better shape. Emma Shaughnessy, a pretty young schoolteacher (who, like Sebastian, is an Irish émigré) and a gym regular, also becomes a motivator. Another “regular” is Sebastian’s neighbour from across the street, Albert Kayle. Albert has been married for 25 years to Matty (the former Mathilda Harrison), and it is an empty, loveless relationship. It is so empty, in fact, that Matty, “a nice woman, a real lady, with a quiet dignified way of speaking” who reminds Sebastian of his aunt in Belfast, is starting to harbour thoughts about what life would be like without Albert, permanently. No, she’s not thinking about divorce, either.
Joanne Peters, a retired high school teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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