Laurence Gough

September 19, 2010

I have now completed my self-appointed summer job of reading all 13 of Vancouver writer Laurence Gough’s series of novels featuring VPD homicide detectives (and eventually husband and wife) Jack Willows and Claire Parker.

I had a marvelous time watching the writer become an accomplished hard-boiled author and then a confident and accomplished novelist. Gough improves and refines his style throughout the series, and his confidence grows with each of the last 7 or 8 books.

These are hard-boiled procedurals, with a satisfying level of violence, set within the geographic, cultural and business textures of contemporary Vancouver. But they also become an extended meditation on both the nature of intimate relationships and of the human condition itself.  The 13-book series takes Willows and Parker through every which way of relationship building; from the first subtle attractions to living with Jack’s children from a previous marriage to being married with an infant son of their own.  This is no longer a particularly successful marriage, but they do the best they can.

I thoroughly recommend him both as a hard-boiled author in the tradition of Hammett and Chandler and Spillane, but also, especially in his later works, as a very good Canadian novelist in his own right.

Wall With Window

September 19, 2010

This “Wall With Window” no longer exists in Vancouver.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

September 19, 2010

Having failed through the judicial route to shut down publication of an expose, the CIA is negotiating to buy the entire first-run printing of 10,000. When purchased they will be pulped, according to the Guardian.

And so it is for Anthony Shaffer, thanks to the Pentagon’s desire to buy up all 10,000 copies of the first printing of his new book, Operation Dark Heart. And then pulp them.  The US defence department is scrambling to dispose of the book , which threatens to be a highly embarrassing expose by Anthony Shaffer, a  former intelligence officer, of secret operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and of how the US military top brass missed the opportunity to win the war against the Taliban.  The department of defence is in talks with St Martin’s Press to purchase the entire first print run on the grounds of national security.  The publisher is content to sell the books but the two sides are in a grinding dispute over what should appear in a censored version and when it should be released …

The Pentagon is using Shaffer’s status as a reserve officer to block him from speaking to the press, but a source close to the publication of the book said that some of the sensitive material had been removed but the defence department was still seeking to purge it of other information that is 20 years old or even in the public domain.  For that reason, there is suspicion that the defence department is less concerned with the nitty gritty of classified material than its broader story of intelligence forays in to Pakistan and his claim that top US military leaders blew an opportunity to win the war years ago.

Should they really be using your tax dollars to help whitewash the intelligence community?