“Remarkable stuff. Fans of Bill James’ Harpur and Iles saga of cops and robbers are in for quite a treat”
Kirkus Starred Review
Readers have been ROARING with praise for this hardhitting 1970s thriller set on the streets of Montreal. Sergeant-Detective Émile Cinq-Mars fails with a task set to him by his former captain. Are the consequences about to spark a gangland war? This gripping, atmospheric Canadian detective mystery is the perfect read for fans of Louise Penny, John Verdon and Donna Leon. In this book extract, we are transported back to 1958, and a tense assignation in Montreal . . .
He persevered, cautiously, down a brief flight of stairs. With each step, the darkness intensified. At the base of the stairwell he lifted a latch, crossed the threshold, and let the heavy door swing shut behind him. The latch clicked into place. Total darkness. He had landed in an unused coal cellar. The switch to oil in the 1950s left coal bins vacant, their walls and floors impregnated with decades of black dust. He kept his breathing shallow. He did not carry a flashlight; the glow would be extinguished if he did. The man had not anticipated stumbling into a vacant tomb. No lighter. No matches. Little air. He tasted dust on his tongue. In the utter blackness of the cellar, the man waited. For someone. Something. A sound. A light. A distraction. An appearance. A specter, even. A ghoul. He had arrived yet possessed no further directive. He checked: his own hand, inches from his eyes, was invisible. He was invisible, even to himself. One hand gripped the other, assurance that he existed. He felt taken in. He had followed the instructions to the letter: proceed to the district in Montreal known as Park Extension – commonly referred to as Park Ex, as though the community’s best days were done. Locate the laneway betwixt rue de l’Épée on the east, Bloomfield Street on the west. Avenue d’Anvers and rue Jarry crossed north and south. Search for a high wood fence, faded green. One impossible to see over without standing on a rock. A pair of yellow slash marks, each the width and length of a thumb, knee-high on the gate, confirmed the location. The twin dashes were tilted off the vertical. Close to parallel. Not an X, yet they marked the spot. Lift the gate’s rusty latch. Enter the small backyard. Avoid exterior stairs to the first and second floors. Instead, step through an unlocked door that led underground. When he decided to count the experience as being a superior’s psychological ruse, he rallied. He would not succumb to panic. Nor bolt. He was being tested; he’d breeze through the challenge. He stiffened his spine. Prepared himself to endure. It took a while – three-and-a-half minutes, although it felt longer – before he realized that he was not alone. He detected a breath in the room, not his own, and spoke into the darkness. ‘You’re here.’ ‘You, too. Here,’ Captain Armand Touton replied, his voice a disembodied entity. In locating the voice, the visitor discerned that the other man was seated. Slightly behind and to the right of him. Thinking of his inquisitor in a chair triggered an inexplicable creeping anxiety. For the first time in the black cavern, the man grew fearful.
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