Tag Archives: Quebec

Another Chilling Read from the Arctic

 book cover: The Bone Seeker

Destination: Canada, The Arctic Circle

Book:  The Bone Seeker, An Edie Kiglatuk Mystery, by M. J. McGrath (NEW 2014)

“The boundaries of murder were unlimited.  Like some far distant universe, every individual act of killing was dark and vast and unknowable.” From The Bone Seeker by M. J. McGrath

The Arctic
Land and ice and water near Kuujuaq. Photo by Murray Dewing at Flickr.

I love finding books that are not only fun to read, but also shed light on a place and a culture that I know next to nothing about.  So how many books have you read that take place in the Arctic and have an Inuit heroine?

One difference between southerners (anyone south of the Arctic Circle) and the Inuits (Eskimos) is that we southerners think of ice as frozen water.  However, in the Arctic, they think of water as melted ice. Edie Kiglatuk, an Inuit, shares this bit of cultural difference along with many others along the way to solving the mystery of a missing teen girl.

If you need to cool off from  hot summer weather, let M. J. McGrath transport you to an island. No soft breezes and palm trees here, though.  Just too much daylight all summer long. Edie Kiglatuk, the main character is uncomfortably warm when the temperature raises above freezing. That makes McGrath mysteries the perfect books for ‘chilling.’

Artic wolf tracks
Photo by Johannes Zielcke, from Flickr

Edie has taken a summer school teaching position in the town of Kuujuaq, a small town in Nunaviq in far north Quebec Province. In summer, the sun never sets on this Arctic region, and the constant light plays havoc with people’s sleep cycles.

Edie, while not officially a detective, brings a wealth of experience and appropriate skills to the job when her friend Sergeant Derk Paliser, the only law in these parts, recruits her to help. They are searching for the killer of a teenage girl, Martha, whose body is found in a lake that is suspected by the Inuits of harboring evil spirits. Edie is an expert tracker, and sees things that elude people more used to walking on pavement than on ice.

As in the previous Edie Kiglatuk mystery that  I reviewed, The Boy in the Snow, set in Alaska,  The Bone Seeker reveals a much wider evil conspiracy than a simple murder.  In Boy in the Snow, Edie uncovered corrupt politicians and a human trafficking ring.  Here, the suspense builds and you will not fully realize the meaning of the book’s title until you arrive near the end.

You know you’re in for a wild ride when the Canadian Defense Department shuts down the investigation and takes away the body and all evidence.  Derek resents the non cooperation of the Army and his anger makes him less than a diplomat. Edie keeps some of her actions secret even from Derek. The native people on the island don’t trust any outsiders (qalunaat), even Derek, who is only half Inuit. Meanwhile, a female attorney who has been representing the tribe in a suit against the government aimed at cleaning up contaminants for the “evil” lake, endangers herself by refusing to back down when old paperwork hints at deep secrets.

As you can see, there is plenty of conflict to go around, and plenty of strong characters who refuse to “behave” when the government wants them to back away.

 NOTES: I am an Amazon affiliate, which means if you click on the book cover and shop at Amazon, A Traveler’s Library will earn a few cents to help pay the Internet rent. Thanks.

Click on photos to learn more about the photographers.


Love Quebec, Music and Winter

Note: Leading up to Valentine’s Day, in a romantic mood, A Traveler’s library has a distinct French accent this week. Kerry Dexter starts us off in French-speaking Quebec with a bilingual musical choice that shows how travelers might love Quebec and music and winter. Later this week, I’ll be reviewing two novels about romances set in the City of Love, Paris.

Destination: Quebec, Canada

Music: Ce Monde Ici-Bas (This World Here Below) by De Temps Antan

Quebec Skyline
Quebec Skyline. Photo by Robbie’s Photo Art from Flickr

In the province of Quebec, in Canada, people really know winter. Love Quebec. Love Winter.As nearly half the year, from October through into March, is a season of cold and snow, it makes sense that Quebecois folk have come to love it, with major winter festivals lighting up the cities of Quebec and Montreal, people heading to the mountains to ski, and going cross country by ski and sled, celebrating life and love and music in the depths of winter.

Quebec Winter Carnival
Quebec Winter Carnival 2013. Photo by James McCaffrey

Indoors in winter there are celebrations of the unique landscape and heritage of Quebec’s people too. Most often these involve music. The three men who make up the group De Temps Antan know this well.

Through love of music shared in the family through study, through travel, and through winding musical paths, Éric Beaudry, André Brunet, and Pierre-Luc Dupuis each found his way to worldwide stages playing the music of Quebec as members of the iconic (and large) Quebec band La Bottine Souriante, and eventually, Beaudry, Brunet, and Dupuis chose to bring their love of Quebecois music back to the more intimate settings of those tunes shared around the kitchen table, as they formed the trio De Temps Antan. Their most recent release is called Ce Monde Ici-Bas (This World Here Below).

Quebec music group De Temps Antan. Photo by Wil Macauley.
Quebec music group De Temps Antan. Photo by Wil Macauley.

The family feeling and connection the men bring to this project doesn’t mean it’s all quiet music, though. Fast paced tunes and songs recalling and inviting dance that mark love for music in Quebec are in full character as the three friends play their way through sets of traditional music, music they’ve written themselves, and music which connects these sources.

Each man brings his own flavor to the music. Éric Beaudry grew up in Saint-Côme. and has taken an early love of singing and playing guitar to playing mandolin and bouzouki as well. He has studied both jazz and pop music as well as learning his own traditions, and now teaches traditional music too.

André Brunet’s instrument is the violin . Along with his brother Rejean — now part of the top Quebecois group Le Vent du Nord — he recorded several albums, and has also won the top award at the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition, the first Quebecois artist to do so. You might have heard his fiddling as part of the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia,

Pierre-Luc Dupuis comes from Louiseville, Quebec, where he grew up around music and was drawn to the accordion, with which he made a solid reputation across Quebec before touring the world as part of La Bottine Souriante, and now, with the trio that is De Temps Antan.

So what do these three friends sound like when they make music together? Love of place, family, friendship, a dash of humor and a touch of romance along with a nod to history and the joy of sharing music all come through in their music choices. They offer fast and slow pieces, trading melody and harmony line, warmth, humor, and quite a bit of that trademark Quebec musical accompaniment, stamping and tapping of the feet!

The music of Quebec is French music — all the lyrics here are in French — and is rooted in the songs and tunes emigrants from the Celtic regions of France carried with them over the ocean. It is also a music shaped and formed by new world encounters with the music carried by people from Scotland and Ireland and other countries, shaped and formed too by the landscape and the seasons on the land in Quebec.

On Ce Monde Ici-Bas, you’ll find a traditional emigration song (reworked with a nod to another part of French culture, the Cajun community), a lively drinking song, a romantic waltz, and sets of reels and jigs that you can just imagine being shared in lively fashion around the kitchen table. The closing track draws all these threads together, and evokes the romance and joy, the dance and reflection, of the music of Quebec. It is called Matin d’Hiver, Winter Morning.

Looking for a unique soundtrack to your own winter morning, or Valentine’s Day celebrations? De Temps Antan could just have that for you with Ce Monde Ici-Bas.

Note: All photographs used here are form Flickr, used with creative commons license.  Click on the photo to learn more about the photographer.