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New B.C. crime novel paints dark portrait of small-city life

Sam Wiebe's Ocean Drive is a hard-boiled narrative of gang warfare, violence and murder
Ocean Drive author Sam Wiebe says while his crime novels are intended as entertainment, he does like to reflect the social realities of the Greater Vancouver area.

Sam Wiebe has no claim to be a prophet of doom for White Rock. 

And although his crime novel Ocean Drive (Harbour Publishing, 2024) is set here 香蕉视频直播 and offers a darker view of 香蕉视频直播極ur City by the Sea香蕉视频直播 than civic boosters might care for 香蕉视频直播 it should be understood the type of violence he describes is vastly dissimilar to this April香蕉视频直播檚 tragic stabbing incidents on the waterfront. 

As Wiebe, author of the popular Vancouver-set Wakeland series of private detective novels, is quick to affirm, 香蕉视频直播淚t香蕉视频直播檚 a work of fiction 香蕉视频直播 just entertainment.香蕉视频直播 

But he is writing from a standpoint of personal knowledge, he acknowledges. Although now a resident of New Westminster, Wiebe grew up in White Rock and attended Semiahmoo Secondary. 

香蕉视频直播淚 graduated in 2000,香蕉视频直播 he said. 

香蕉视频直播淢y mom still lives here, so I香蕉视频直播檓 out here quite a lot,香蕉视频直播 he added, while noting that, observing the current vista of highrises whenever he ventures across North Bluff Road, he香蕉视频直播檚 always struck by how much the city has changed since it was his regular stamping ground. 

Meeting recently for coffee at White Rock香蕉视频直播檚 iconic Five Corners Cafe, Wiebe, a large but gentle man casually attired in slacks and plaid shirt, turns out to be far less imposing in person than his brooding author head shots might suggest 香蕉视频直播 or his Toronto Star description, quoted on the back cover of Ocean Drive, as 香蕉视频直播淰ancouver香蕉视频直播檚 terse poet of a city in decline.香蕉视频直播 

香蕉视频直播淭hat香蕉视频直播檚 flattering, of course,香蕉视频直播 the soft-spoken writer admitted, while being quick to acknowledge that such characterizations have never prompted him to adopt a James Ellroy-like tough guy persona to promote his brand. 

It香蕉视频直播檚 a brand that香蕉视频直播檚 doing very well, thank you, for the prolific Wiebe, whose most recent Wakeland novel, Sunset and Jericho, was shortlisted for the 2024 Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing, and who is developing a growing following south of the border which is seeing him in demand for such events as the Left Coast Crime mystery convention in Seattle. 

香蕉视频直播淚香蕉视频直播檓 just an ordinary guy who has a cat and drives a Civic,香蕉视频直播 he said, adding that he and his wife Carly 香蕉视频直播 an aficionado of classic pulp fiction 香蕉视频直播 live a life of mostly quiet domesticity with said feline, a female named Ennio, who Wiebe describes, turning proud cat parent, as 香蕉视频直播渁 masked tabby with snow paws and a white bib."

The author said that while it香蕉视频直播檚 likely that Carly has read more of the classic historic detective novels than he has 香蕉视频直播 香蕉视频直播渟he香蕉视频直播檚 always recommending I read this and that香蕉视频直播 香蕉视频直播 he does acknowledge familiarity with such masters as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. 

香蕉视频直播淲hen I was growing up, my parents had a complete set of John D. Macdonald香蕉视频直播檚 Travis McGee novels, and there were Hammett books like Red Harvest and The Thin Man lying around. I think those were the first adult novels I read.香蕉视频直播 

While these classics have undoubtedly been an influence on him, Wiebe said, he has had no desire to emulate their style by writing period pieces. 

Instead he has specialized in being a keen observer of the street-level language and sensibilities of the present day 香蕉视频直播 and incorporating them in his writing in a very relatable way that has resonated with a growing legion of fans across Canada and in the U.S. 

香蕉视频直播淲ith the Wakeland novels, the 香蕉视频直播榲oice香蕉视频直播 is the strongest part of my private eye. And I felt that I didn香蕉视频直播檛 want my characters walking around and speaking like gun molls and hep cats of the 香蕉视频直播40s,香蕉视频直播 he said. 

Perhaps the strongest link he has to the crime and mystery traditions is in being an interpreter of his own city landscape, just as Chandler has been identified with Los Angeles, in a much later era, Ian Rankin with Edinburgh. 

It香蕉视频直播檚 evident, and Wiebe freely admits, that his interest 香蕉视频直播 more than posing intricate whodunnit puzzles or revelling in scenes of violence just for their own sake 香蕉视频直播 is exploring the social realities of his subject communities and the notion of dark things happening in places that can seem very nice on the surface. 

So it is with Ocean Drive, in which Wiebe explores the very real potential for violence in the White Rock and South Surrey community, due to gang warfare in the illicit drug trade. 

Anyone who has any doubts about the real-life impact of such crime only has to run a brief search for news stories of shooting incidents in the area over the last few years, Wiebe noted.

He cited, in particular, the recent incident 香蕉视频直播 captured in security camera footage 香蕉视频直播 of semi-automatic gunfire sprayed at vans in the driveway of a house on Roper Avenue in the early morning of Feb. 22, which left four people wounded.

In Wiebe's compelling, hard-boiled narrative, 29-year-old Cameron Shaw has been paroled after serving seven years for the manslaughter of wealthy White Rock resident Roger Garrick. Cameron, through his uncle, had been doing casual handyman work for Garrick but snapped when the older man, drunk and spouting accusations, physically attacked him, with a steel trim guard used for painting.

The beating death of Garrick 香蕉视频直播 in front of the man香蕉视频直播檚 pregnant wife, Liz 香蕉视频直播 has given Cameron an unenviable reputation for violence that he struggles to live down, and his jail time has obviously scarred him on the inside.

An unexpected, but hard to decline, job offer brings him back into the orbit of criminal associates, drawing him into a twilight world of ambitious gang members jockeying for position 香蕉视频直播 in Wiebe's fiction the 'Heaven's Exiles' motorcycle gang, the related 'League of Nations' and the rival 'Vipers' 香蕉视频直播 and a series of drug-smuggling conspiracies, and rip-offs, that threaten not only his freedom, but his life.

Among intriguing characters he encounters are flirtatious but hard-nosed Sukhi Kaur, sister of a League of Nations drug dealer, but with other more powerful connections that put her close to the heart of the criminal milieu.  香蕉视频直播

At the same time, RCMP Staff Sgt. Meghan Quick 香蕉视频直播 White Rock detachment commander 香蕉视频直播 is struggling to trace the full ramifications, and true culpability, in the murder-by-arson of recently orphaned college student Alexa Reed.

As with all such tales, appearances are deceptive and seemingly unconnected incidents are manifestations of deeper, and darker connections. And for Quick, what she discovers during the investigation shatters her previously comfortable notions of her community.香蕉视频直播

What, for example, are the true roles of Liz Garrick, an increasingly influential woman among the movers and shakers of the community, and Bob Sutter, retired detachment commander and now a White Rock council member, both of whom are involved in a controversial casino development proposal?  香蕉视频直播

Longtime Semiahmoo Peninsula residents may quibble over some geographical anomalies in Wiebe's story, while others may point out that in the real world of police investigation 香蕉视频直播 rather than one officer, like Quick, being saddled with the responsibility of solving a series of murders 香蕉视频直播 the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) would soon take over the reins of such a complex case.

But this is fiction, after all, and Wiebe does get a lot of things right. The fact, for instance, that 香蕉视频直播 aside from opportunistic petty offences 香蕉视频直播 entrenched crime in White Rock and South Surrey is not simply about the influx of new money, and new immigrants, to the area, but also about the ways that longtime residents have accommodated, and turned a blind eye to criminal groups and enterprises, even back when it was a far simpler and less populous community.

And that alone should make Ocean Drive a fascinating, and provocative, read for many locals.        香蕉视频直播

Alex Browne

About the Author: Alex Browne

Alex Browne is a longtime reporter for the Peace Arch News, with particular expertise in arts and entertainment reporting and theatre and music reviews.
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