MISS MONTREAL by Howard Shrier (Vintage), 268 pages $19.95 paper. Rating: NNNN
In the push to get homegrown crime novels onto the market, a fair number of mediocre offerings make it into print. Thankfully, local author Howard Shrier's Jonah Geller books aren't among them. Miss Montreal, the fourth in this top-notch series featuring Toronto P.I. Jonah Geller, is evidence of that.
Geller is back home after a disastrous case in Boston that left his partner badly injured and the usually fearless detective feeling raw. So when his company, World Repairs, is hired to look into the murder of an old acquaintance from camp, a fellow Jew found in a Montreal laneway with a Star of David carved into his chest, Geller is only too happy to outrun his demons on the 401. Along for the ride - and some serious protection - is his friend, former hit man Dante Ryan.
Turns out the timid, awkward teenager Geller knew had grown into a popular newspaper columnist and was stirring up some deep shit on a prominent pure laine family. The investigation throws Geller into the charged world of anti-Muslim immigration and Quebec's séparatiste politics. When he uncovers the real story, events come to an explosive head during Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day celebrations.
Born and raised in Montreal, Shrier portrays the city, from its mouth-watering bagel shops on St. Viateur to the gritty warehouses off the Metropolitan, with the eye of a true connoisseur.
His characters are as vivid as the streets - smart, wisecracking and less than squeaky clean. And Geller is that perfect mix of tough and compassionate.
Miss Montreal is one of those books you can't put down. It's a great addition to the world of crime fiction and a must-read for fans of La Belle Ville.