Re: RARA-AVIS: Toronto Crime?

Date: 24 Apr 2009

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    Hi Mark:

    Forgive me. I almost choked on the idea of Ondaatje as noir or hardboil, though I did like Skin of a Lion myself. Admittedly, Toronto is so smugly middle-class you often have appreciate a sort of tangential ironic wit to find a lot of the crime fiction set there that comes close to the RA criteria. And you might have to stretch your boundaries beyond the city's borders, to say, South Ont., as well.

    First I'd recommend Hugh Garner who wrote some very noir, working class short fiction befor turning to crime-writing in the '70s: "Death in Don Mills" and "Murder has Your Number". Morely Callaghan also wrote an excellent pre-war noir novella but I cannot recall off the top where it was set.

    I've edited a collection of short fiction by Jean Rae Baxter ("Twist of Malice") that has stories set around Toronto (but not actually in Toronto) and that drew positive notice of critics noir and otherwise. One short was from a trio of noir anthologies Peter Sellers and I edited for Insomniac Press. Also, immodesty compells me to mention my own novel, "Sap", much of it set near the Beach district of east-end Toronto.

    I've reviewed a lot of noir fiction on my website, some of it set in Toronto. John Moss' "Still Waters" and Michael Blair's "If Looks Could Kill" come to mind.

    I'm not a used bookstore hound, but I do recall Kevin Smith dragging me into an interesting shop upstairs on Queen St. W. a few years back. He might give you a name when he gets home from his concert in California. Sleuth of Bakerstreet on Bayview is the big deal mystery bookstore, but I'd also recommend Scene of the Crime, a nice drive west to Lakeside Bronte, or take the GO train. Here's their web site: Don can probably add more names to the list of Big TOe noir.

    Best, Kerry

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Mark D. Nevins
      Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2009 6:25 PM
      Subject: RARA-AVIS: Toronto Crime?

      (Did I already post this question? Did I miss a Digest in which it was responded to? Apologies, I'm just getting over a bad flu.)

      A few weeks from now I will find myself in Toronto for business. Questions:

      1. Any recommendations on good used bookshops, especially for older/vintage crime and hard-boiled?

      2. Any recommendations on good reads set in Toronto and/or by Toronto writers? (I am coming up with one book, Michael Ondaatje's IN THE SKIN OF A LION, which wonderful as it is doesn't really fit R-A parameters even with a stretch.)

      I hope this post is not a redundant time-waster; I'm now going to go check the Archives.

      Mark Nevins


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