Title: Darkest Before the Dawn (Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series Book 7) by Mike Martin
Genre: Thrillers and Suspense, Supernatural, Ghosts, Cozy
Publisher: Ottawa Press and Publishing
Publication Date: September 27, 2018
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Darkest Before the Dawn – Cover depicts coastal Newfoundland setting
Darkest Before The Dawn is the latest adventure in the Sgt. Winston Windflower mystery series, the popular Maritime tales about a Mountie who finds himself with a new family and a new life in tiny Grand Bank, Newfoundland. Ghosts, mysterious deaths, and a new, perplexing character confront Windflower, Tizzard and the other police officers in Grand Bank as they unearth secrets that have been lying hidden in the sleepy hamlet for decades. A fast-moving mystery, Darkest Before The Dawn is also a story of love, loss and learning how to grow old gracefully; a tale of family, community and looking after each other, of not giving up hope, just before the dawn.
This new-to-me series features Cree Indian Sgt. Winston Windflower of the RCMP. He mans an office in tiny Grand Bank where they appear to have more fog than sun. Windflower is getting used to his new life with wife Sheila Hillier (the town’s mayor) and father to new baby Amelia Louise. Windflower has also brought along his collie, Lady, who also seems to be getting settled in their new life. Sgt. Windflower maintains a morning routine with walking his collie and the Cree ritual of smudging.
Even in this tiny hamlet, a criminal element appears to be kicking up incidents with break-ins and Windflower is soon embroiled in the murder of a loner. Delving deeper into the investigation, the loner appears to be deeply involved in the dark web, including identity theft and crypto-currency (bitcoin investment). The investigation shortly finds another victim apparently tied to the earlier stabbing death of the secretive loner. In addition, he is confronting the town’s drug element and the statistics of mounting suicide among teenagers and middle-aged men.
Sgt. Windflower is surrounded by well-developed secondary characters such as Tizzard, Dr. Sanjay, the town coroner, and Betsy, his administrative assistant, who reminded me very much of Ruby of the Longmire TV series. Windflower himself reminded me of Longmire or the very laid back Andy Griffith of the long-running TV series attempting to sheriff or sergeant as he balances work and life at home. He and his wife are in the process of opening a B&B and in the interim opening for weekend family style dinners. He plans the meals and the necessary ingredients he’ll need to create his repasts along with Beulah who finishes the affair with her signature desserts.
Sgt. Windflower loves his wife and baby, Lady the dog, and often gives thanks and appreciation for his life and luck. Every now and then, there is the slightest hint of a possible ghostly presence in the old Victorian in which they’ll open their B&B. The area around the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland is richly described, the small town setting homey. Windflower himself is not so fully developed, although as this is #7 in the series, probably was well fleshed previously. This installment would function fine as a standalone as you get enough of the protagonist to get who he is now, but reading more of the series would definitely fill in missing back story. The dialogue flows naturally but included some local idioms or colloquialisms which were not fully explained.
There is a mystery, but it’s a cozy mystery, slow to percolate, and is mainly covered by the protagonist working out menus, changing diapers, or bathing the baby. The narrative moved at a halting pace and a few plot points were repeated. It wasn’t difficult to discern the antagonist element. The sub-plot, that of suicide, is covered informatively and the darknet explained adequately. The conclusion arrived quietly, without fanfare, except for one surprise you didn’t expect of the antagonist. Encountered were obvious edit misses (i.e., flower for flour). While there were elements that pushed enough interest to continue to conclusion, it was low key and left a rather unsettling aspect, rather unfulfilling.
I received this download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy small town locales, cozies, and family oriented mysteries.
Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five of Five Stars
The Author: Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.
The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home.
A Long Ways from Home was shortlisted for the 2017 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web is the newest book in the series.
©2018 V Williams