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Review: Kootenay author strikes again

Gordon Turner reviews Iona Wishaw’s To Track a Traitor

She’s done it again. Iona Whishaw has written another novel based in the Kootenays, and it’s a good read.

You end up following a couple of mystery strands, and you wonder what’s next. It’s not deep reading nor hard to follow, but it does have its moments of intrigue.

Indeed, Whishaw has written a 10th Lane Winslow novel. For those of you following Whishaw’s series beginning with the first novel, A Killer in King’s Cove, you will recall the setting is mainly somewhere in the Queen’s Bay, Balfour to Nelson area.

Sometimes the story moves a bit afield as this one, To Track a Traitor (Touchstone Editions, 2023), clearly does in taking the main characters back to England. The timing is the late 1940s just after the Second World War. Both characters, Lane Winslow and now her husband Frederick Darling both served in the war, and there are occasional references to their respective activities back then. Along with them are a series of police characters and local Kootenay community residents who show up in most of the novels.

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The story line this time begins by focusing on a missing person, one Ben Arden, who went out on a boat at night and never returned. The boat, however, did drift back, and his wife called the local police to help locate him.

In come Inspector Darling and Sergeant Ames asking questions and trying to discover the missing man’s whereabouts. To add to this crisis, Mrs. Arden visits the bank to check on the family’s finances and learns that her husband has emptied their accounts.

It turns out he has been blackmailed for something in his past, and so he kept paying with every penny he had. So now the police have to deal with that problem along with his disappearance.

In the meantime, Lane Winslow has received news from Scotland that her grandfather is ill, and she decides she needs to travel there to help her grandmother cope. She discovers as well that her sister has returned to Scotland from South Africa to stay with the grandparents, but has recently gone off to be with friends.

Arriving in Great Britain, Lane finds out her sister is missing or is incognito, and on further exploration learns that the sister is being sought as a traitor.

As readers know, Lane Winslow is very talented when it comes to discovering what’s going on, and after meeting her sister secretly, she is intent upon finding a way to reveal the real traitor’s guilt.

At the same time, her husband Darling has been sent to England to unearth a different puzzle, and so the two of them come together to solve these mysteries.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Ames is left to deal with the Nelson and area disappearance and blackmail scheme, and does a fine job with the help of the new Constable Terrell.

One of the features of an Iona Whishaw mystery is that all of the unknowns are settled by the end. We don’t know for sure until Lane Winslow figures it out or helps things unfold, but in the end we breathe a sigh of relief.

That’s also true of the Nelson end of the story where Sergeant Ames and company sort out what happened to the missing Ben Arden and who is to blame for the major blackmail. Everything works out for the good guys in an Iona Whishaw mystery, but the intrigues throughout her novels are pleasant and provocative reading. To Track a Traitor is in the same vein.