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book review:

Thought You Were Dead

Where’s Encyclopedia Brown when you need him? Oh wait, you don’t because Chellis Beith is on the case. A bit of a grown-up Encyclopedia Brown with a dash of ruthlessness and a penchant for drinking, Beith finds himself embroiled in more than petty larceny when a murder crops up in a small, otherwise sleepy town. In Thought You were Dead by Terry Griggs, Beith works as a researcher for the local celebrated writer Athena Havlock, who discovered his uncanny ability to root out random facts complemented by his in-depth knowledge of the murder mystery genre of writing while he was stocking shelves at the local Valumart. Whisking him into the world of investigating random topics, she funds his lackadaisical existence of drinking and stalking his lost childhood love (and good friend) Elaine, an inventor. Beith’s life of lounging and trying to avoid Elaine’s dangerous creations is soon irrevocably turned topsy-turvy when a series of events forces him outside of his comfort zone, but Beith rises to the challenge, complaining every step of the way. Complicating matters further, when his long-lost sister Bethany, who is a stone cold fox, shows up at his front door Beith is forced to face yet another mystery, that of his mere existence. An orphan at birth, Beith willingly accepts Bethany’s story at face value despite Elaine’s desperate insistence to be wary. When Athena goes missing in action, and Beith finds her office ransacked, he embraces his inner vigilante, albeit reluctantly, and starts searching for her himself. In true murder mystery fashion, as our protagonist searches for clues to both the mysteries at hand and his true family history, he finds himself in hot water both when his supposed birth mother shows up on the set and when the bad guys get a hold of him, although Beith isn’t too sure which is worse. Griggs takes the standard murder mystery and infuses it with the right blend of humour, honorary injuries and amiable (although eccentric) characters to make you want to find out how much more Beith can take, what can possibly happen next and how he is going to get himself out of this very high-stakes mess he is in. (Sara Ritchie)

by Terry Griggs, Illustrations by Nick Craine, $19.95, 217 pgs, Biblioasis, Emeryville, ON, N0R 1C0

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