Sunday, October 19, 2008
STAIN OF THE BERRY by Anthony Bidulka
Reviewed by Neil S. Plakcy
In Stain of the Berry, his fourth Russell Quant mystery, Canadian author Anthony Bidulka demonstrates a sure hand with character, plot and setting. Quant, a gay private investigator based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is awakened one night by a phone call from a frightened young woman. “He won’t leave me alone,” she says. “He wants to hurt me.”
Before he can help, though, the phone goes dead. Only later does he realize that the young woman, Tanya Culinare, committed suicide shortly after the call. Hired by her parents and brother, Quant tries to understand who or what tormented her so that she was forced to leap from her apartment balcony to her death.
In each of his previous books, the Lambda-award-winning Bidulka has taken his sleuth to exotic locales, and in Stain of the Berry a secondary plot, concerning Russell’s missing neighbor, Sereena Orion Smith, takes the intrepid sleuth to Canada’s far north. This jaunt, tied into Russell’s trepidation at approaching his thirty-fifth birthday, combines with the question of what has happened to Tanya and her friends to make a very enjoyable read. *****