Thursday, August 15, 2013

Win a copy of Cold White Sun by Vicki Delany

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Jungle Red pal Vicki Delany is back this month to tell us about her latest release.

“When I decided to become a police officer I knew I’d have to deal with the hard side of life. Beaten children, raped women, accident victims, blood and gore. But that’s not the hardest part, is it? It’s the goddamn tragedy of people’s lives.”

 Constable Molly Smith to Sergeant John Winters, Among the Departed by Vicki Delany
VD: It’s conflict and tragedy, not love, that makes the world go round. Which is why I write crime novels.
Mystery novels, or as I prefer to call them, crime novels, are frequently disparaged as not being important or literary. Particularly in Canada, where I live, the very idea of a crime novel being short-listed for an important award would have people rolling in the aisles in laughter.

Which seems a strange mind-set to me.

Crime novels, it has been said, show the human psyche under pressure. Crime novels take (usually) normal people and put them through a heck of a lot. Some survive, some do not. Physically as well as mentally or morally.

Crime novels allow the reader to ask him or herself: what would I do in this situation? What would I do if this happened to me? How far would I go to save my child/defeat my enemy/get revenge/save myself? What would I do for money/for love? Would I do the right thing, or would I fail?

In the latest Constable Molly Smith book, A Cold White Sun, tragedy strikes a comfortable family.  A family much like yours perhaps.

Cathy Lindsay, middle-aged, middle-class, married mother of two, high school English teacher, gunned down by a sniper one sunny winter’s day walking her bichon frise on the snowy trail above town. Cathy is not the sort of woman to be the target of what appears to be, if not a professional killer, a highly motivated and trained amateur.  And Trafalgar, B.C. is not the sort of town where things like that happen. The police have no motive, no suspects, no clues. What if, they fear, Cathy was not the intended victim? Does someone else in the close-knit town of Trafalgar have a target on their back?

Although on the surface A Cold White Sun is about the police investigation into the killing, it’s really about the reactions of those close to Cathy Lindsay. Particularly her husband, Gord. We know from the beginning that Gord is not the killer, although the police have their suspicions. He struggles first with understanding what has happened, and then wonders how he’s going to live the rest of his life without Cathy.  Gord has two children still living at home, a borderline juvenile delinquent named Bradley and a sweet little girl, Jocelyn, who at ten years old faces a future without her mother’s support and guidance.

For the rest of her years, Jocelyn would miss her mother. There would be an empty place at her wedding; no one to give her kindly advice on the birth of her first child. No shoulder for her to cry on when life got too hard. No one to tell her to buck up, and suggest they chase away her worries by indulging in some retail therapy.

No one to tell her the facts of life.

Gord put his head in his hands and wept.

He wept for himself as much as he wept for his daughter. All that Cathy had done, all that she had been in their lives, would now fall on him.

He knew he wasn’t up to it.

              A Cold White Sun, by Vicki Delany

 In my writing and my reading, I have little interest in chasing vampires or diabolical maniacs threating to explode nuclear weapons, or in rogue government agents fighting the system to save the world.  What I want to read about, and to write about, is ordinary people living ordinary lives, facing extra-ordinary tragedies.

 It’s through the lens of the crime novel that we can explore people under extreme pressure.  The use of a crime or a mystery allows the author to up the stakes for the characters, but the essential humanity and the complex range of human emotions are what’s all-important.

Hold your sympathy for Gord. He’s not perfect (not many of us are) and he begins to think that the unexpected death of his wife just might help him out in the long run. You see, there’s this woman in Victoria.

Love and death and tragedy.  They fit seamlessly together in a crime novel.
As they do in real life.  

Why do you read crime novels?  Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a copy of A COLD WHITE SUN, from Poisoned Pen Press.

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most varied and prolific crime writers.   Her newest book is A Cold White Sun, the sixth book in the popular Constable Molly Smith series from Poisoned Pen Press. She is also the author of standalone novels of psychological suspense, and the light-hearted Klondike Gold Rush books from Canada’s Dundurn Press.   
Visit Vicki at,, and twitter: @vickidelany.




  1. Reading mysteries means I won’t meet up with any vampires, zombies, or werewolves; I won’t encounter any crazed creatures dealing out unspeakable horrors. Instead, I’ll find people who might be my next door neighbors, struggling with something true-to-life that in some way defines who and what we are . . . .

  2. I enjoy the intellectual stimulation of a puzzle, especially in skillfully crafted mysteries/crime novels. My favorites are those which interweave engaging or fascinating characters with interesting places and situations, in particular those outside my own realm of experience. It's more fun for me to learn something new with the added challenge of trying to figure out what is happening.

  3. I love a good mystery but prefer to watch the story unfold rather than try to solve it. It isn't that I don't think about who did it and wonder who did it — I do. I like all the hints and twists and turns, but I don't try to figure it out. I find no pleasure in realizing who it is ahead of time. Lots of errant clues that lead me in nonsensical directions just chip away at a solid good story. Give me a good mystery story. I'll play chess with my sons.

  4. Interesting Reine, I guess I'm a watcher too when I read...don't do crossword puzzles either.

    Yes, like Joan and Vicki, the crime gives the people something to struggle with--it can bring out the worst in them, or the best.

  5. So true, Joan. Next door neighbours... When I read, like Reine, I don't try to 'solve' the puzzle. I'm along to watch the characters in action.

  6. Dare I say it, I read crime novels to be entertained. I love a plot that pulls me along and best of all surprises me with its twists and turns. I love flawed characters whom I can get attached to and root for through all of their bad decisions. And I love the puzzle, too -- so satisfying when the pieces that just seemed like they were 'out there' CLICK into place.

  7. There are many sides to this issue: in one of my crime novels, actually classed as a thriller, the psychopathic villain is spoken of by another character as ... " after all, he was somebody's little boy, once..." Thelma in Manhattan

  8. I'm definitely a "watcher" rather than a puzzler also. Sometimes I will identify the bad guy, or at least identify the person the author wants me to think is the bad guy, but mostly I'm there for the entertainment.

    Congratulations on the new book, Vicki!

  9. I read crime novels for a variety of reasons. Many of them are similar to what others have already said here. In no particular order, here are some of them: because there is usually some sort of justice by the end of the novel; because I like puzzles; to learn about times, places, and cultures different from my own. In recent years, it has been more fascinating to get inside the brains of the characters in the story, and in a series, to see how the ongoing characters evolve or mature-or not-over the course of the series. By the end of the book I want to feel as though my brain has been to the gym!

  10. I like to watch the story unfold. The many different ways the characters react to what has happened is so interesting. It is so fun to just read along and see the twists in the path as they crop up. Your series sounds really good Vicki!

  11. So many books, so many answers.

    Certainly I read crime novels for their entertainment value, but I do generally prefer crime over Science Fiction or Vampire, which can also be entertaining.

    For some stories its the fair play race between me and the protagonist. I want to figure it out first.

    For others it is the insight into the humam condition without the pages of internal angst seemingly required in many works of "literature."

    And in some cases, it is purely for the enjoyment of experiencing how a master plays with my mind, tricks me, enchants me, engages me and leaves me wishing the book had nt ended.

    ~ Jim

  12. A well-written mystery gives me all the pleasure of any well-written book, plus a puzzle to keep me intrigued on the way.

  13. I love mysteries for the entertainment and also for the sense that justice is done. I especially admire policewomen and female detectives, maybe I am envious and wish I could have lived a more exciting life myself. Well, maybe next time.

  14. A COLD WHITE SUN -- what a great title!

    I read crime fiction because I'm fascinated by human psychology, especially our dark impulses. I'm fascinated by the notion that each of us could kill someone if we had to (I know I could at least)--or if we FELT we had to. The question being what it take to get us to that place?

    Like you, Vicki, I'm more interested in how these impulses manifest in (seemingly) normal people living everyday lives.

    I don't try to solve the puzzle either. I have a friend who always whispers her theories during movies. Drives me bats**t crazy! :-)

  15. Welcome, dear Vicki!

    Oh, I'm a puzzler, married to a watcher. (We should have discussed this before we said I do--but we would have still said so, of course!)

    Lisa, I promise I wiould not whisper to you!

    On another topic--RO, where can we get tshirts?

  16. Thanks, Hank! :-) My friend has gotten used me to flapping my hands in her face to halt her whispers. If we weren't such good friends, it would be darned rude. Hah!

  17. Vicki, what a fabulous title! Wish I'd thought of it:-)

    And I write crime novels for the same reasons you do. I'm just fascinated by people. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, I've always said. What would drive an ordinary person to murder? How do the people in their lives cope with such a tragedy? Is anyone really who they seem?

    And I'm a watcher, not a puzzler, even though I work very hard on my own plotting. When I read, I just like to see the story unfold. But if the answer is blindingly obvious in the first chapter or two I usually won't go on.

  18. I love to get inside people's lives and mysteries, cozies, 'tecs, etc are the best way to do that. Dee

  19. Well, I had typed out a lengthy response and it didn't go through. So, to be more succinct, I find it fascinating to be inside the minds of both the criminals and the pursuers of those bad guys or girls. Particularly interesting is when the deviant is a person from the seemingly "normal" realm of life--best put by Deborah, "ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances."

  20. I'm a reader, I love books, when they are well written it's like eating fine chocolate. Indulging all of the senses and satisfying a deep need. If it's a crime mystery/thriller I like to absorb the words, the nuance of accents and phrasing, hear the background sounds of birds in trees, traffic, etc. To me, books are slices of life, served up on fine china.

  21. I'm interviewing Canadian author Andrew Pyper at Scene of the Crime Festival on Saturday. In preparing, I came across this from a review: Hey, Pyper, stop selling your soul and get real. You could be a literary star and not a genre hack.

    Submitted without comment, to all you great people who LOVE crime books precisely because of the humanity.

  22. Vicki, what a powerful scene you shared with us! thank you!

    I am most definitely a watcher. I want, in my reading, to be swept up in the setting, the characters, the story - the words. It rarely crosses my mind to try to solve the puzzle. I'm content to just be along for the ride, as long as it's done well and holding my interest.

  23. I like the puzzle. I like trying to work out what happened. I like the questions of right and wrong and good versus evil.

  24. You know how much I enjoy your books, Vicki! Remember the contest where I was offering chocolates to the readers who could tell what book one of the characters in one of your mysteries was reading (it was one of yours). Only six got it... Well, maybe next time?

  25. I remember that Martha. It was so nice of you to do that. Sounds like you are settling in well in CA.

  26. Like you, Vicki, I write and read crime novels to see ordinary humanity reactions within a crucible. I'm a watcher rather than a puzzler in my reading, though I work hard on the plot twists of my own novels.

    And as for that reviewer who said that to Andrew Pyper--Why should he give up being a genre star to be just another literary hack? And there are a lot of literary hacks, believe me. Theodore Sturgeon once said, "80% of everything is crap." And I think that's often true. But I'd have to say that crime fiction comes on the low side of that, maybe 50-55%, while literary fiction comes in on the high side with at least 90%.

    And I sent off EVERY HIDDDEN SECRET to my editor today, so I'll be around here and on other social media much more now.

  27. Vicki says it well - I read crime novels because they're such good character studies. We all think about how we'd respond in extraordinary circumstances - mysteries give us the opportunity to role play/ponder/pray through situations we hope never to find ourselves in. I am often surprised by the emotions I feel, the prejudices I discover and the lessons I learn...

  28. I like seeing how the crime is committed and rooting for the detectives/police solving the crime. It's like a puzzle that needs to be solved.

    I would love to win a copy of A Cold White Sun.

  29. I love reading mysteries for several reasons: 1)the puzzle, 2)to see how and why characters act the way they do in committing and/or solving crimes, and 3)to hopefully see justice prevail in the end.