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Deadly Appearances (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #1)

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  431 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
ON A HOT AUGUST AFTERNOON a picnic is being held to celebrate the election of Andy Boychuk as leader of Saskatchewan's Official Opposition. All of the key people in Boychuk's lifefamily, friends, enemieshave gathered. About to begin his speech, Boychuk takes a sip of water from a glass on the lectern. Within seconds he is dead.

Joanne Kilbourn, Boychuk's speechwriter, is s

Hardcover, 222 pages
Published April 1st 1990 by Douglas & Mcintyre Ltd (first published 1990)
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Oct 31, 2012 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-won, audiobook
I won this audiobook from Goodreads first-reads. I do know know the author. All opinions all strictly my own.


I LOVE to listen to books in my car as I drive, so I was very excited when I won this one. It's a new series to me even though it was written in the 1990's. It was different because it was set in Regina in Canada. It was about politics in which I'm not familiar enough with them in the US, but I was completely lost about the way they work in Canada. Thank goodne
Jun 25, 2015 C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I collected many Gail Bowen novels but didn’t expect stellar mysteries. They’re everywhere; churned out for decades. Not only is “Deadly Appearances” one of the most finely-crafted novels I’ve ever read but it broke the typical mould so often, I was regularly treated to the thrill of surprise. Its construction is wonderfully tight and on every inch is Gail’s impressively articulate writing. From the first sentence I was aware of being in gifted hands. Phrases like “we saw geese in the sky practi ...more
Jan 15, 2015 Philip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very difficult to review or actually to Rate! Tomorrow! Well it's now "Tomorrow" and I'm still kind of stumped on this one. I stumbled on Gail Bowen in my search for Canadian Mystery writers and I tried a couple of her "Rapid Reads" "Charlie D." series and really liked them so I decided to try a full length novel. As I usually do with a series I like to read them in order but perhaps with the "Joanne Kilbourn" series that wasn't such a good idea. I found about the first half of this book very sl ...more
Julie Golding Page
I picked up Gail Bowen's "Deadly Appearances" first and foremost because of its setting in my current home region - the province of Saskatchewan, on the Canadian Prairies. It's rare to find a fiction book set in this area, and I'm pleased to be able to recommend this series as a fine offering in the mainstream mystery genre. The story has an unpredictable yet conceivable ending, and it also introduces an appealing, believable "detective" character. Joanne Kilbourn is a 46-year-old widow with 3 t ...more
Jina Howell-Forbes
This is the first book in the Joanne Kilbourn Mystery Series. I really like this book and its author. It was a murder mystery without being a detective story, but even though the main character was actively gathering information to help find her friend's killer, the book did not feel like one of those cozy mysteries where a totally unqualified person one-ups the police. There was a lot of family and relationship stuff, and since the main character is heavily into the local political scene, there ...more
May 05, 2014 Danielle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only other mysteries I have read are the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Both had beautifully drawn local culture and a strong female lead. But give me sex, vampires, and mind readers any day over Canadian lame duck politicians and a woman with the worse gay-dar ever. Also, I usually attempt to play dumb, letting the story surprise me, but halfway through no new information was provided and the mystery was easy as pie to solve, unfortunately. I was hoping to be surprised.
Andrea Harris
May 24, 2013 Andrea Harris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been re-reading Gail Bowen's series, mostly because I remember enjoying the early books so much, but also because I couldn't remember them well enough to know why.

This, the first in the series, is as good as I remembered. The characters are well drawn, but not so fully fleshed that there is no room for growth.
Adam Smith
A little too predictable for my taste. Knowing that she isn't going to introduce any more characters for the killer makes for a very small pool to choose from. The fantasy aspect of the book is a little hard to deal with as well. Seriously, what 46 year old woman gets that kind of attention for an obscure birthday. Also, the writing style is weak and the audiobook sounds like it was read by Siri.
Frieda Perry
Jan 20, 2013 Frieda Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the first third of the book slow but steadily interesting. From there on it was a clever and compelling read.
May 09, 2014 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first read of a Gail Bowen book and I really enjoyed it.
Feb 22, 2017 Vainvt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our mystery book club is trying to explore the world, and this visit to Saskatchewan was quite an adventure. Joanne Kilbourn is a woman who is thrown into a murderous situation and uses her wits to figure out who the killer is. Along the way, she is almost murdered herself, and learns who her real friends are.
Bowen shows us the politics, culture, and climate in this adventure. There are times when you want to scream, "Don't do xxxx!", but since Joanne is an amateur, I was not bothered too much.
A mystery by a Canadian author, set in Saskatchewan. Joanne Killbourn is a single mother who is very involved in local politics. "Her" politician is suddenly murdered at a rally and his wife Eve is suspect. Joanne, recently widowed herself, takes up the job of clearing her. And on the way finds some romance and some travel around the province. Well, plotted, with interesting characters, not all of whom are what they seem to be, this is an entertaining but not great read.
Mary Anne Thompson
Feb 12, 2017 Mary Anne Thompson rated it really liked it
Shelves: bingo-2017
A nice fairly cozy mystery set in Regina and other cities in Saskatchewan. I look forward to more in the series.
Jan 11, 2017 Celticoracle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, mystery
An excellent mystery story that engaged me and kept me guessing till the end. Extra points for being unabashedly Canadian - from politics to locales.

Well worth the read.
Well written, strong female character, interesting plot.

I liked it 4-stars worth until the last 2 chapters - issues of telegraphing, drawing out book unnecessarily, ignoring a key character that would have impacted the story line.
Dec 18, 2012 Dale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published by Post Hypnotic Press in 2012
Originally Published in 1990
Read by Lisa Bunting
Duration: 8 hours, 43 minutes

There are a dozen or so Joanne Kilbourn mysteries. They are set in Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada. Kilbourn is a middle-aged political party worker. She works behind the scenes helping to craft policy positions, write speeches, plan campaigns and the like.
Deadly Appearances literally starts with the murder of Andy Boychuck, a successful politician. Kilbourn has worked
Aug 26, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This mystery held together very well especially for the first of a series. It's set in Canada, specifically Regina, and is the first book by a Canadian author where the location has some meaning to the story. It was also nice that it's a place I've been so I could imagine a bit of the city.

The main character, Joanne, is the widow of a politician who was enveloped by his political life and stayed involved after his death primarily due to inertia. The only quibble I had was that she didn't seem t
Nicola Mansfield
Apr 06, 2015 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I sure wish I hadn't waited so long to start this series! It's not my usual "serial killer thriller" mystery and I thought it might be lame because of the politics theme but this Canadian author is up to book 15 in this series so I had to see what was up. Deadly Appearances is at heart a political mystery with the book starting off with the murder of the prime candidate for Premier of Saskatchewan. The main characters then are all those surrounding his political campaign, spouses, and frie ...more
Apr 13, 2015 Kc rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carol Gojan
Feb 06, 2017 Carol Gojan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great first book by this author - sets the scene. I look forward to reading the whole series and getting further acquainted with Joanne Kilbourn and her friends and family!
John Carter
Jun 22, 2014 John Carter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engaging from the beginning. I did have the killer pegged from early on, but I never connected him/her to a motive—any motive, let alone the correct one (which I also identified but then forgot about). I really liked the narrator, though I wanted to slap some sense into her when (view spoiler). How there are going to be further entries in this series I can’t guess ...more
Rosemary Zurawel
Jan 29, 2016 Rosemary Zurawel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 27, 2010 Sherry rated it really liked it
I found the story a little slow at first. Gaail Bowen is a new author to me. But, as I got into the book, I was thoroughly engrossed. I liked the locale, mid western Canada. The lead character is a mother of three, widow since her husband was murdered. She is a very close friend of the murdered character and feels the need to find answers. I wouldn't call this a cozy. The writing is well done and humorouis at times. I recommend it.
This is a new series for me, although this first book was written in 1990. The setting is central Canada, and the story features a woman who is a mother of three, a widow, and very involved in the local political struggles in her area. The murder of the candidate she is working for starts the mystery, and even though the outcomes are fairly predictable, I couldn't put this one down. It is well written and the characters are interesting. I look forward to the next.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Read this for an English class. I liked it much better than all the other detective novels we've read this semester. It was much better written though the plot reminded me of about a million other detective show episodes on tv (not that I watch many), but I really did enjoy it overall. I was disappointed because I figured out who did it about 2/3 through, so getting through the end was a little painful, but overall really good. If you like detective novels, I'd definitely recommend this one.
Aug 12, 2013 Joy rated it really liked it
Despite what felt like a slow start to this book (and it was probably just me and the circumstances under which I picked it up) I really enjoyed this book. Joanne seems like someone I would quite like and the cast of characters around her were well-fleshed out. I am very excited to have a new series to read, and look forward to reading the next adventure.
I'm not sure I was in the right place to start reading this one since I'm not too into mysteries OR politics, but I do admire Gail Bowen's work. I had read another book in this series and really liked it, so maybe I'll come back to this one some time in the future, but for now I had to DNF it. All the politics talk kind of lost me.
Oct 11, 2011 Debbie rated it liked it
Pretty good, I am hoping they get better as the series goes on. Good Canadian setting for a mystery series. Good writing. My only reservation is there were some anti gay retoric in this book and I am hoping it was just for this story and not something that pops up in other books from Gail Bowen. If so, I won't be reading any more of hers.
Aug 31, 2013 Krista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite enjoyable read in a locale that I know next to nothing about. The author have me a good feel for southern Saskatchewan, I think! Mystery was easy to figure out, but still kept me turning the pages. Heroine and her family were sympathetic. Will continue with the series.
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Gail Dianne Bowen (née Bartholomew) is a Canadian playwright and writer of mystery novels. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Bowen was educated at the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo and the University of Saskatchewan. She subsequently taught English in Saskatchewan, and is currently a professor of English at First Nations University of Canada. Bowen's mystery novels feature Joanne Kilbo ...more
More about Gail Bowen...

Other Books in the Series

A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • Murder at the Mendel (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #2)
  • The Wandering Soul Murders (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #3)
  • A Colder Kind of Death (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #4)
  • A Killing Spring (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #5)
  • Verdict in Blood (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #6)
  • Burying Ariel (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #7)
  • The Glass Coffin (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #8)
  • The Last Good Day (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #9)
  • The Endless Knot (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #10)
  • The Brutal Heart (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #11)

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