Authors: Howard Shrier
Tags: #General, #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective
he temperature in Toronto has been above freezing the last ten days. Green shoots of crocuses are poking through the dark fragrant mud in the flower beds around my building. A lone whippoorwill has been perched on the telephone wires across the street, singing its plaintive notes. The Blue Jays open at home next Monday.
Jenn is still away.
I got a postcard the other day from Cuba, where she and Sierra have been holed up. It showed a huge marlin breaking free of the surface of the ocean, blue black against a clear sky. “This will be me again,” she wrote on the back.
I don’t know when she’s coming back to work. Or even back home. We haven’t talked about it at all. I imagine the reality of what happened to her while she was at Halladay’s is still sinking in. I suggested she get counselling but she said, “I used to work on a rape crisis line, remember? I know exactly what they’d say.”
She hasn’t told me yet whether she is pregnant. She did go for a full exam before she left for Cuba but she didn’t offer the results and I didn’t ask. There are other risks, of course: that her rapist might have infected her with HIV or something else. She doesn’t even know if it was only one man. Those results will take longer to know.
It’s still sinking in for me too. Ugly dreams raid my sleep, including one where a man in a surgical mask starts to cut away my face with a scalpel. Waves of depression roar up on me without warning. It’s not the same depression I experienced after the concussion. It’s something else entirely.
On the plus side, my brother the lawyer, my colossus who doth bestride me, has been helping me stay out of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, despite the fervent efforts on the part of authorities to have me deposed there regarding the deaths of Sean Daggett and numerous others found inside Halladay’s and painstakingly identified. And the deaths of David Fine and Carol-Ann. And the disappearance and presumed death of Harinder Patel of Somerville.
“Do not set foot in that city,” Daniel said. “I don’t care if they ask you to throw out the first pitch at Fenway. Don’t even go to Buffalo. The minute you cross the border, you’re theirs.”
Instead, he has been drafting an affidavit that provides my version of said events. It is sadly lacking in details but so far says nothing that is out-and-out perjury. If my brother is going to get all the respect and adulation he commands from our one and only parent, he might as well fucking earn it. And if he can come up with a document that keeps the Commonwealth off my back, he will have done so, in spades.
As I lie in bed at night, trying to fall asleep, I think about Lesley McConnell and I wonder if she has had her transplant yet. I wonder how Frank is handling the death of his kid brother. I think of Rabbi Ed and the misguided mission he set for himself, for his ego, and the tragedy it led to. I think of Ron and Sheila Fine, of course, wishing so badly I could have done better by them, that I could have come home triumphantly, David in tow, the threat to his life erased and his future as bright and shining as the city of Boston once was. All I got for them was a $250,000 endowment of a scholarship in David’s name, courtesy of Dr. E. Charles Stayner, to be given annually
to the most deserving transplant fellow. I think of Shana and regret the stone wall that got thrown up between us. She was a lovely young woman, just the kind I think I could fall in love with, given half a chance. Instead, she’s another in a long line that got hurt by getting close to me.
I am not a violent man. I keep telling myself that. I think of myself as a good man at heart, who keeps getting caught up in deeds committed by men who really are violent. So call it justice. It’s how I think of it broadly. Why then can’t it roll off me the way it does Ryan? Why do I feel the cold crushing weight of every corpse? Until last June, my cases at Beacon Security had never involved more than a fist here, an elbow there. Since then, my three forays into the United States have been storms of violence.
So I tell myself, if it only happens when I go to the States, where the stakes seem higher and guns abound, then there’s a simple solution. Turn down any work that would take me there. Recommend someone local instead. Accept any referral fees, which is what I should have done when Ron Fine called. Stay in Canada, where cases rarely degenerate into the same kind of carnage. Hide my passport and keep my peace-loving self at home. Because that is what non-violent men do.
am grateful, as always, to my agent, Helen Heller, for challenging me to lead Jonah further afield, and to my publishers at Random House/Vintage Canada, Anne Collins and Marion Garner, for their ongoing support of the series. Thanks to editor Paul Taunton for helping me streamline the story, and Barbara Czarnecki for her careful copy edit.
In Boston, Susan Piver and Duncan Browne could not have been more gracious hosts or better guides. Without them, I never would have found Summit Path.
Very special thanks to Dr. Douglas V. Hanto, Chief, Division of Transplantation, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. To take as much time from his work as he did to meet with me and then review the manuscript was incredibly generous. He also thinks like a crime writer and provided all the information I needed regarding Jenn’s captivity. Others who helped me better understand techniques and issues around organ transplantation were Dr. Stefan G. Tullius, Chief, Division of Transplant Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston; Dr. Ashwini R. Seghal, Division of Nephrology, MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland; and Dr. Istvan Mucsi, Associate Professor, Division of Nephrology, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal.
With so much help there should be few errors; clearly any that remain are mine alone.
Thanks to the Brookline Police Department for information on its missing person protocols. Other Bostonians who helped were my old theatre school pal, Wade Russo; Francine Achbar, who knows the Jewish community there so well; Jerry Berger, Director, Media Relations, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Kevin Myron, Manager, Media Relations, Brigham and Women’s, who helped arrange vital interviews; and especially Dave Zeltserman, Boston’s new master of noir, who not only took time to meet me but agreed to review the manuscript from a native’s point of view.
Readers who know Boston will spot the odd geographical liberty I have taken, like creating a Summit Path station on the Green Line. But they are few and far between. The real Boston is great the way it is.
Thanks to Rabbi Yossi Sapirman, Congregation Beth Torah, Toronto, for the story of Abner and insights into the issue of organ donation among Orthodox Jews; Dr. Dan Goodman of Toronto for his views of life as a post-doctorate fellow in Boston; my mother for her outstanding efforts in promoting my work; and my father for introducing me to two important books during my research phase:
The Brothers Bulger
, by Howie Carr, and Chuck Hogan’s
Prince of Thieves
To deepen my sense of crime in Boston, I also reread all the novels of Dennis Lehane, a dozen of Robert B. Parker’s early Spenser books and other old favourites like
The Friends of Eddie Coyle
. I also had the pleasure of discovering newer talents like Zeltserman and Hogan. Rarely has research seemed so light a burden.
was born and raised in Montreal, where he earned an Honours Degree in Journalism and Creative Writing at Concordia University. He began his career as a radio newswriter at age 21 and by 22 was a crime reporter for the now-defunct
. He has since worked in a wide variety of media, including print, magazine and radio journalism, theatre and television, sketch comedy and improv, and corporate and government communications. The only Canadian author ever to win consecutive Arthur Ellis Awards for Best First Novel (
) and Best Novel (
), Howard now lives in Toronto with his wife and two sons and is working on his fourth Geller novel, set largely in Montreal. He also teaches writing at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. Please visit his website at