Two men live in Sointula where one writes about crimes and the other used to solve them. So it seemed a natural fit when we asked former police Det. Jim MacDougall to review Bruce Burrows’ book, River Killers.
Danny Swanson migrated to the dark side of the fishing industry.
Once an enthusiastic fisherman, he now works for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, monitoring fishing on the West Coast – areas 7-13 and 7-14.
Still, Danny — the main character in Sointula resident Bruce Burrows’ River Killers — sometimes misses his fishing days when he worked on boats catching net-stretching amounts of salmon. Despite the fond memories, one event haunts him still.
Something was wrong – very wrong — about the mutant salmon that flipped and flopped in the big set.
A shipmate, Billy, took the odd fish to Vancouver’s DFO laboratory and that’s the last time anyone sees the fish — or Billy.
Danny is also dealing with the sad and disturbing fact an old friend from DFO committed suicide at his remote cabin on B.C.’s West Coast. Or did he?
With the herring fishery in full swing, Danny has his work cut out for him.
But, what about Billy, Igor, and his friend‘s suicide? Something stinks in Canada, and it’s not the catch of the day.
After a 26-year career in law enforcement in a major metropolitan city, I’m not normally attracted to fiction involving police investigations. But I will say I was pleasantly surprised when I read Bruce’s book.
The characters come alive and I had the feeling I knew many of them. In fact I’m sure most are based on actual mutual friends.
However, not only did I learn about the many facets of fishing, DFO operations and the constant struggle of our fishing fleet to carve out a living in this beautiful but dangerous environment, I was drawn into the drama while waiting for a herring fishery to open.
The anticipation of the fishermen waiting for the green light from DFO is almost blinding.
I’ve never fished for a living, but reading this book makes me want to experience the excitement of a commercial opening, at least one time.
The character of Staff Sgt. Karavchuk is brought to life and made believable, even to the point of her making an incredible initial mistake in the ensuing sudden death investigation — something that sounded too familiar.
That said, the mistake allows the hero and friends to carry on with their investigation, putting the pieces of the larger puzzle together to the bitter end.
To me, the most enjoyable parts of this book were the humorous thoughts of Danny Swanson.
I know many police officers have a bit of a twisted sense of humour, I now know at least some of the officer’s of our DFO — and some fishermen — are just as twisted.
Over all, the story was intriguing, insightful and chock full of great humour.
Bruce has an engaging way to make the reader endear himself to the characters in the book.
This would make a great movie and, in my opinion, it’s must read for anyone.
(And I don’t think there is anything wrong with buying a float home and moving to Echo Bay!)
I will be waiting for the next adventure of Danny Swanson and his friends.