Two unpublished crime novels:
Foul Papers: When spinster and retired teacher Marjorie
Cobb is murdered in her home in London, England, during what appears to be
widower Peter Hansen, a former naval captain and now a mature graduate
student of Shakespeare in a Halifax, Nova Scotia university becomes involved
in the investigation. He is visiting the university’s English Department
office when DCI Patricia Sinclair of the London CID contacts the department
requesting information. In a letter sent to Dr. Linus Akerman, the Department
Head and Hansen’s thesis advisor, Miss Cobb had claimed to have found
a previously unknown 1688 edition of Shakespeare’s Othello, an edition
that, if valuable, might have been the motive for the murder. Examining
a copied page that Miss Cobb mailed to Dr. Akerman, Hansen sees a version
unlike all other Othello editions and believes he is looking at what Shakespeare
actually wrote. As Dr. Akerman is away at a conference, Hansen sets out
to solve the mystery of how Miss Cobb’s edition avoids an obvious
error that mars the first, and all subsequent, editions of the play. He
is assisted in his research by Kelly O’Donnell, the attractive and
highly efficient Department Secretary who is also intrigued by the mystery
of this new Othello.
Hansen makes use of Dr. Akerman’s research materials to explore the various mysteries surrounding the publication of Othello, and he finds much support for his theory that Miss Cobb’s edition may have been printed from Shakespeare’s manuscript, his “foul papers”. He decides to travel to London in hopes of finding the 1688 edition.
In the course of the academic sleuthing, Hansen is increasingly attracted to the beautiful and lively Department Secretary, and when Kelly invites him home for dinner and makes clear her feelings for him, he is only too happy to sweep her into the bedroom. It is with some reluctance that he catches a flight to the U.K. the next day.
In London, Hansen works with DCI Sinclair, an attractive woman of African ancestry, making her way in a traditionally white male organization. With nothing to go on but a list of clients for whom Miss Cobb was doing freelance writing, Sinclair believes that Hansen’s academic knowledge might help her discover where Miss Cobb found her unusual edition. Knowing this location, she thinks, might lead her to the murderer.
While Sinclair’s questioning of Miss Cobbs’ clients seems to lead nowhere, Hansen’s academic research bears fruit. He identifies both the publisher and the printer of the 1688 edition, but the arrival in London of his odious Department Head, Dr. Akerman, threatens to put an end to his sleuthing. Akerman is a deceitful, ambitious egotist, intent on finding the unique edition for his own greater glory. A game of cat and mouse begins, with Akerman lying to Hansen and spying on his research.
When Hansen is attacked by thugs in a dark London street, Kelly decides to join him in England, but something she says during a phone conversation leads Hansen to suspect that Kelly knows more about the murder than she should. When Akerman boasts that he has been Kelly’s lover, Hansen is consumed with doubts and a feeling of betrayal.
The final chapters of the novel describe Hansen's success at discovering the location of the "foul papers" and learning the truth of Kelly's feelings for him.
A Death of Consequence: After ten years overseas as a criminal
investigation consultant, former Halifax policeman Lucas Goode returns to
his home town
to start a new career as a private investigator. Employed by an old high
school buddy, Geoff MacMillan, who has started up a PI firm, Goode has
his first case when he is hired to solve the murder of a young art teacher,
Tonya Major, killed in a stairwell of her school several months earlier.
The dead woman’s lesbian partner Starr Lieberman is convinced that
the police are not working hard enough to find the killer, partly because
of the repercussions if a student or a teacher were to be proved the guilty
Goode, who is living in a ratty short-term rental apartment until his purchase of a harbourfront condo is finalized, begins by discussing the case with a former colleague and friend on the Halifax police force, Harry Brand. Brand and his partner Ben Carmody had been in charge of the murder investigation, but have run out of leads and are more concerned about recent drive-by shootings in the city. Because the school’s security cameras showed no one entering the school from outside, suspects are few, and there is little evidence to go on.
Although he receives no cooperation from the Halifax school board, Goode begins interviewing members of the school staff, beginning with the Principal, Charlie Hanson. Gradually, he begins to get a picture of how Tonya Major was regarded by teachers and staff, and how she often came into conflict with her more disruptive and confrontational students. He learns that she disagreed publicly with certain school board and Department of Education policies, particularly those concerning student assessment and discipline. Like the police, he finds that no staff member looks like a likely suspect, and the only students in the school at the time of the murder were with a teacher in the gymnasium, rehearsing for the upcoming school musical.
A second case comes his way. A Halifax dentist, Laurence Croft, has reported his wife missing and, not convinced the police take her disappearance seriously, wants Goode to find her. Goode now shuttles back and forth between the two investigations.
A romantic sub-plot enters the novel when he witnesses an attempted mugging of a woman who lives across the street, and comes to her rescue. He is instantly attracted to the very beautiful Tasi Alexiadis, but gets the impression that she regards him as a social inferior, judging him by his grubby clothes and the fact that he lives in a run-down apartment building.
Goode continues to interview school staff, and also questions three students whom he encounters in a fast food restaurant. Gradually, he begins to form a picture of the likely killer, but it is not until the night of the school's end-of-year concert that the final piece of the puzzle enables him to solve the mystery of Tonya Major's murder.