The Ferryman Will Be There by Rosemary Aubert (McArthur & Company), $24.95 paper, 258 pages. Rating: NNNN
when canadian filmmaker charington Simm gets shot on the red carpet leading from his stretch limo to the gala screening of his latest movie at the Toronto Film Festival gala, the dead director's 15-year-old daughter, Carrie, the movie's star, vanishes.Homicide cops don't seem to care what happened to her, but detective sergeant Matt West, who works with street people, is worried enough to call in Ellis Portal.
The recently homeless ex-judge protagonist of Rosemary Aubert's Arthur Ellis Award-winning mystery series, Portal has the connections to track a teenager on the lam. Wanting to protect Carrie from her father's killers, and realizing that the streets may not be the worst place for her to hide, he looks for one of Hollywood North's hottest properties in Toronto's squats and catacombs.
Movie industry dirt drives this plot. Simm has a taste for big-budget period pieces, which Portal soon realizes the auteur can't afford without some seriously creative financing. Have drug sales been subsidizing Simm, or something even more sinister?
Aubert has a great feel for Toronto neighbourhoods, writing about the Don Valley, Parkdale, Bridal Path and Regent Park with total authenticity. The Ferryman is also filled with T.O. in-jokes, like Ellis Portal's name. It comes from the subway tunnel entrance on the Yonge line next to Canadian Tire's flagship store. Check it out the next time you ride the rocket southbound from Rosedale to Bloor.
Aubert is featured at the Who Dunnit? event at Hart House Tuesday (November 6). See readings, this page.