Girl Missing, Girl Murdered

A young Indigenous woman is brutally murdered in Toronto, her body left in a back-alley garbage dumpster by her indifferent killers.

Another statistic in a tragic tale of girls gone missing, her death comes under scrutiny seven years later by the nation-wide Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry, which is holding local hearings in Port Huntington, a small resort town on the shores of Georgian Bay.   

Even as the MMIWG committee is doing its work, a second murder is discovered, and yet another young woman goes missing.  Maggie Keiller and Derek Sloan, long-time residents of the town, become directly involved in the ensuing police investigation, which unearths one surprise after another.

As the hunt for the guilty party narrows its focus, Maggie and Derek find they, too, are in danger from the deranged predator who is determined to escape justice.

Girl Missing, Girl Murdered is the fifth novel in my Maggie Keiller/Derek Sloan crime series.  It is a gripping story, told in riveting fashion, sure to entertain readers who enjoy murder mysteries. 

The book is expected to be available online in time for Christmas shopping.

In the meantime, you might enjoy this excerpt from the working draft—

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Melanie Garland underestimated both the threat and her ability to counter it, a mistake that cost her dearly.  When she came out of the cottage to put a bag of household garbage in the trunk of her car, and to close the convertible top, she heard a vehicle approaching.  She watched warily as it pulled up behind her.

She knew right away what he was after, of course.  No surprise, given their earlier conversation.  But he adopted an air of unexpected nonchalance at first, probably trying to catch her off guard.

Careful, girl.  Don’t let this go too far.

It didn’t take long for him to get to the point, and as his manner changed, she felt an inkling of danger.  He was not-so-subtly eyeing the scant clothing she was wearing—a denim skirt and faded Queen’s tank-top, neither of which did much to conceal her obvious assets.

Experience had taught her the best way to cut off an aggressive man was to confront him directly—especially this one.  Slamming the trunk lid, she pointed a finger in his face, demanded he leave immediately.  Otherwise, she warned him, she’d call the police—although, belatedly, she remembered leaving her cellphone on the kitchen table.

When he responded with a slow grin, as if amused by her threat, she spun on her heel and headed for the cottage.  Without warning, he grabbed her roughly by the wrist, bringing her up short.  Angered now, and more than a little fearful, she wrenched her arm free and smacked him across the face.  Putting everything into it.

He responded so fast, she didn’t have time to flinch.  His backhand caught the side of her face, driving her against the side of her car.  Leaning into the back seat—stunned, gasping, but infuriated by the blow—she grabbed the first thing she saw lying there, a nine-iron she’d been practising with earlier.

With a primal scream, she swung it full-force at him.  Ducking sideways, arms raised to protect his face, he took the head of the club across his ribs.  As he stumbled to one knee, she dropped it and took off for the cottage.

Get away!  He’s crazy!  Get the phone! 

Halfway to the door, she was felled by a massive blow to the back of her head.  Her legs collapsed, the ground rushed up to smash her face.  Warm blood oozed from the back of her skull, trickling behind her ears.  She could taste a metallic tang in her mouth.

Oh fuck, I’m hurt!  I’m hurt!

She felt herself being rolled on her back, but her eyes wouldn’t focus.  She saw a blurry figure looming above her…heard him wailing…felt a weight pressing on her chest, over and over.  She was sure she was going to die.

No…no…no…

And then, blackness.

When he left, panting from his exertions—utterly astonished and distraught by the violence he’d committed—he didn’t  remember to take the golf club.

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There was no one there to see a different vehicle approach the cottage twenty minutes later, an hour or so before sunset; no one to observe its driver fearfully approach her motionless body; no one to hear his anguished cry, or the scratchy sound of retching as he crouched beside her.

No one else was there to detect her whispered, anguished murmurs for help; nor to notice small bubbles of blood forming at her mouth; nor to spy the fragile fluttering of her eyelids; no one to see him discover the bloodied nine-iron.

And there was no one to watch the man stand up, finally, the club in his hand; no one to witness the sudden, savage blows he rained down on her; no one to shrink from the rage in his voice as he cursed her.

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No one at all was there to see the car spraying gravel as it left in a frantic hurry moments later; no one to mourn her brutal killing.

It would be four days before anyone else discovered the decomposing body.

 

Happy Birthday, Eh?

Six syllables, sliding sibilantly over the tongue—ses-qui-cen-ten-ni-al.  One-hundred-and-fifty years as a nation, a vision struggling hesitantly to life on 1 July 1867.  Christened the Dominion of Canada, we were four provinces united against the manifest-destiny expansionism of the mighty republic to the south, but nestled still in the colonial arms of the imperial British embrace.

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The first priority of this new nation?  To fulfil the calling of its soon-to-be-adopted motto: Ad Mari usque ad Mare—from sea to sea, the Atlantic on the east, the Pacific to the west.  And eventually, a third sea, the Arctic to the north.

And so it happened, the inevitable northward and westward reach, propelled and supported by the building of a transcontinental railway.  After the original four provinces—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec—there followed: Manitoba, 1870; British Columbia, 1871; Prince Edward Island, 1873; Saskatchewan and Alberta, 1905; and Newfoundland, 1949.

Along the way, three massive territories joined the mix: Northwest Territories, 1870; Yukon, 1898; and Nunavut, 1999.

Now, here we sit in 2017, Canada, the true north, strong and free.

And what exactly is it we celebrate on this sesquicentennial?  What have we accomplished as a nation?  What are the values we stand for?  How do our actions and behaviours, both collectively and individually, demonstrate those values?

What does our country do for us?   Even more importantly, what do we do for our country?

It has been noted by critics, perhaps jealous of our good fortune to be situated on the northern half of the North American continent, that too many of us are apathetic about the affairs of our country—to which, in response, some of us simply shrug our shoulders.  Others, though, rally to the causes of the day, to try to influence the course of events, the outcomes, the future.

There is a long list of accomplishments of which we might be justifiably proud.  In the realm of medicine, the discovery of penicillin, insulin, and stem cells; in the sciences, the first light bulb, the telephone, Canadarm, and IMAX; on the world stage, international trade agreements, endeavours to control the deleterious effects of industrialization on climate, efforts to support peacekeeping initiatives around the world, a robust military response in defence of freedom during several major wars, and our welcoming of refugees displaced by global conflicts, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or skin colour; and in a more frivolous vein, the invention of peanut butter, the WonderBra, basketball, and Superman.

Of course, there are chapters in our history that might, with today’s sensibilities, bring a sense of shame: the exploitation and displacement of Indigenous peoples, and the horrors of residential schools; the trivialization and suppression of women’s rights; the mistreatment of Chinese and black immigrants; the expulsion and internment of Japanese-Canadians; and the continued exportation of asbestos to developing nations, even after it was banned in Canada.

None of these might happen today because of a singular document: the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, adopted in 1982.

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Governments of the day, to be fair, have apologised for the worst of these past crimes, and have established commissions and inquiries to seek a better way going forward.  But it is questionable, still, how much influence their reports and recommendations have had, or will have, on the future; witness the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Commission, and assess for yourself their lasting effects on national affairs.

As in everything, actions speak more loudly than words.

Still, when I ask myself if there is any country in the world I would prefer to live in, rather than in Canada, my answer is a resounding No!

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Despite the tumult and the shouting perpetually foist on us by the lunatic-left and rabid-right of the political spectrum, we are a people that wants leadership to govern from the centre.  We favour moderation, not extremes; tolerance, not xenophobia; dialogue, not diatribe; ideas, not ideology.

Do these tendencies render us apathetic?  I hope not.  Rather, I choose to think of us as slow to anger, quick to forgive, strong in the face of adversity, proud of what we have accomplished, and determined, not only to rectify the errors of the past (even if all too slowly at times), but to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

Canada has had one-hundred-and-fifty years of practice with the concept of nationhood now, and still she carries on—both because of and in spite of, the behaviour and attitudes of her citizenry.  Count me as one who is proud to be called Canadian.

Happy Birthday, eh?