The hardest part of writing a mystery for North American audiences has got to be getting the ending right. Because in American mysteries, the whole affair travels the arc from procedural to personal, concluding with the inevitable – and once upon a time, appreciated – face-to-face confrontation between law and disorder. It’s a formula that becomes more tiresome the more the genre adheres to it, and only Europe has truly embraced tossing a little mystery back into the business of, um, mysteries again (Thank you, Karin Fossum
To little surprise, this formula turns out to be the worst part of The Calling, which is otherwise, a tightly plotted, gruesome, outstandingly populated, and very well written police novel. The deep rural Ontario setting is brilliant, and each member of the quickly established cast of soon-to-be-regulars is unique and original, at least for the genre. If you like anything about procedurals, you’ll love this novel. Even the treads it sets on the freeway of familiar ideas is done better than I’d hoped, finding at least small measures of originality in one of the game’s oldest set-ups.
Outside the book itself, there’s also a lot of speculation about who the author, Inger Ash Wolfe, might actually be. I’m less interested in that, so long as the novels keep coming. This is not just a promising beginning; it’s a chance to push the boundaries of the form into a mindset that lets a mystery be something more.