Back in October 2012, my first Luc Vanier novel, Dead of Winter, was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel, and I was over the moon. I didn’t win, but I did discover the thrill of being shortlisted.
This past Spring. I was delighted to be shortlisted again. Imagine how I felt when Open Season went on to win the Arthur Ellis Best Novel Award for 2016. Unbelievable.
Here’s what the Jury had to say about Open Season:
“Of the 82 novels we read for the Best Crime Novel category, many met our criteria for excellence, fulfilling their promise with interesting puzzles, believable stories and memorable characters. All five of our short-listed titles were outstanding, each in their own way, but Open Season, by Peter Kirby, stood out as especially strong.
Open Season is a smart page-turner with a complex, skilfully drawn plot and an engaging puzzle. Inspector Luc Vanier must untangle the tentacles of human trafficking, government and corporate corruption, from the highest halls to the underpasses of Montreal, to the mining villages of Guatemala. The story features vivid, suspenseful action scenes – for example, the moments when a desperate young prostitute is being hunted down by the Russian mob are almost unbearable.
This is a police procedural, gritty and noirish, with an extra spark that compelled each of us to read it almost all in one go, from the stunning opening scenes to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion. Vanier himself has great depth – he is sharp, believable and human, with a willingness to bend the law to exact vengeance, but he remains a moral centre in a troubled world.
Open Season is the third of Peter Kirby’s Luc Vanier novels. You don’t need to read the previous books to enjoy this one – but you will want to.”
If anyone is wondering who Arthur Ellis is, and why his name is linked to crime stories, he was born Arthur B. English, and was Canada’s official hangman from 1912 to 1935. During that time, he presided over some 600 hangings. He got the pink slip after a miscalculation of the weight of a prisoner, and decapitating him instead of hanging him. English died in poverty three years later and is buried in the Mount-Royal Cemetery in Montréal.
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Read Peter’s latest Blog post about giving birth to “Open Season”, read about the book launch, and the book, below. …and visit the Media page to watch the latest interview with Mutsumi Takahashi on CTV.
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Luc Vanier is investigating the kidnapping of a Guatemalan journalist in Montreal. Without a ransom demand, or any word from the kidnappers, Vanier is forced to follow the interwoven threads of her life, including her investigation of human trafficking, freelance work for a multinational mining company, fights with the political elite in Guatemala, and efforts to avoid deportation as a failed refugee claimant.
When the violence gets personal, he takes a leave of absence and ditches the rulebook in an effort to protect his family. And without a rulebook, Vanier is an unpredictable force.
In the Montreal Review of Books, Jim Napier writes: “Is it too early in the series to call Open Season a breakout novel? Kirby’s two previous Vanier stories were also deftly crafted, well-told tales, but his latest work steps up the intrigue several notches, resulting in a perfectly plotted, nicely paced, edge-of-your seat thriller that also has gravitas; and it has all the earmarks of a winner. Open Season may quite possibly be one of the best Canadian crime novels of 2015.” Montreal Review of Books, Summer 2015.
Praise for Dead of Winter by Peter Kirby:
“A powerful ride through the dark and raw of Montreal. Temperance Brennan would feel right at home.” –Kathy Reichs, author of the Temperance Brennan and Tory Brennan series.
“Saints, villains, the homeless and the powerful are held in winter’s suspenseful grip, as are readers as Luc Vanier struggles to unravel who is killing whom and why before the murder count climbs higher. In a riveting new series, Peter Kirby reveals Montreal at the worst of times, its underbelly exposed and dire forces at play.” –John Farrow,
author of City of Ice and River City.
“Taut. Claustrophobic. Compelling. A chilling tale–in every sense of the word. Peter Kirby’s story of murder and its machinations tightens around the reader like a noose.” –Will Ferguson, author of 419.
“A ferociously crafted piece of crime fiction of how the dark, mean streets of downtown Montreal make victims out of its most helpless citizens.” –Stuart Nulman, The West End Times.
Inspector Luc Vanier is drinking his way through Christmas Eve when he is called out to investigate the murder of five homeless people. His investigation takes him into the back rooms of the Catholic Church, the boardrooms of Montreal’s business élite, and the soup kitchens and back-alleys of street life in winter.
Vanier’s Montreal is a seething mix of competing forces bumping up against each other on a shared island; a schizophrenic community where conflicting economic interests, languages, and ethnic groups vie for space. The novel focuses on the most vulnerable of those communities, the homeless. Nobody sets out with the ambition of sleeping alone in some doorway, or under a tarpaulin in an alley. But everyone who ends up there is someone’s son or daughter, and, maybe, someone’s father or mother.
In 2010, an earlier manuscript of The Dead of Winter was shortlisted for the Unhanged Arthur Award for best unpublished manuscript by the Crime Writers of Canada.
The Dead of Winter, published by Linda Leith Publishing on October 13, 2012, was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Book.
Watch an online video interview with Peter Kirby about The Dead of Winter and its main character, Luc Vanier: