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Write On Ottawa: Captivating mystery novel brings the Canadian far north to life

By Andrea Flewelling on October 16, 2013

The Whisper of Legends is the ninth book in local writer Barbara Fradkin’s series of Inspector Green mystery novels.  In this most recent edition, Fradkin takes her 50-something Ottawa-based police inspector out of his comfort zone and tosses him into the white waters of the Nahinni River in the Northwest Territories.

The story chronicles the search for Inspector Green’s teenage daughter who went missing on a summer wilderness canoe trip with her boyfriend and some friends.  Inspector Green faces unfamiliar territory when he and his long-time friend Staff Sergeant Brian Sullivan fly up to the Northwest Territories to carry out their own search when Green feels the local RCMP are not taking the case seriously enough.

What unfolds involves more than a mere wilderness adventure; complete with complex drama resulting from mining prospectors, political wrangling and more than one dead body.

Needless to say, Green is overwhelmed upon arrival – the park is home to hundreds of kilometers of river rapids and countless grizzly bears.  Soon after commencing his independent investigation, Green discovers that his daughter had lied to him.  The trip was not organized by a trusted tour company as she had told him, but rather by her geology graduate student boyfriend, who has recently quit school after an apparent falling out with his advisor.

As the investigation continues, clues about Green’s daughter’s boyfriend trickle in: an old mining claim, a bar brawl with a local politician, a local legend about rubies, betrayals and a decades’ old unsolved death.  When the body of one of Green’s daughter’s travelling companions turns up, things get heated.

The Whisper of Legends is a crime novel that will appeal to more than traditional mystery novel fans.  While clearly one in a series, it is easy to follow even for those who have yet to read one of Fradkin’s other Inspector Green novels.

While some of Fradkin’s characters are clearly struggling with challenges imparted upon them in previous novels in the series, these gaps do not detract from the story.  Rather, they merely encourage readers to pick up a copy of one of Fradkin’s other Inspector Green mysteries to gain insight into these well-developed characters.

In addition to her aptitude for suspenseful storytelling, Fradkin (who has won two Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Crime Novel) paints a beautiful picture of the North, both of the local culture and of the stunning landscapes.  It is abundantly clear that Fradkin engaged in significant research prior to writing this novel.

All in all, The Whisper of Legends will have you dreaming of a trip up North as you find yourself riveted to the complex drama unfolding in the pages.  Ultimately, as mystery novels generally do, all comes to a most satisfying conclusion.  A worthwhile read!