I’d been saving it for the right time.
Like people save the last piece of pie to top off the perfect dinner. Or one more viewing of Casablanca for that special Saturday night. Or that really great Italian red for the romantic moment.
For me the right time to read William Deverell’s latest Arthur Beauchamp novel was during a long-awaited couple of weeks at our Arizona place—an escape from several savage weeks of vicious prairie cold, the worst February in eighty-three years I think the commentator said.
And neither Deverell nor Beauchamp (pronounced Beecham) disappointed. I was already familiar in general terms with Whipped (ECW Press, Toronto, 2018), having had the pleasure of hosting the 2018 Calgary edition of the Arthur Ellis Awards shortlist announcement evening. A special part of that evening was Bill’s visit to Calgary and my good fortune to interview him (“An Evening with William Deverell”) as the feature part of the event. The interview was delightful—Deverell is, like the hero of his mystery series, funny, erudite and charming and I’m quite certain that the gathered throng enjoyed spending time with the creator of Street Legal (among other things) as much as I did. And during the course of our chat, Bill talked about Beauchamp and introduced us to Whipped.
Which brings me back to the Arizona desert where several months after purchasing the novel, I was at last ready to crack the cover.
It wasn’t my first encounter with Arthur Beauchamp and the often zany, sometimes frustrating, always entertaining cast of characters that populate Garibaldi Island, home to Beauchamp and his wife Margaret Blake (leader of the Green Party). In Whipped readers are treated to Deverell at the top of his game, with the hapless Beauchamp doing his best to cope with his challenging friends and neighbours (my personal favourite is the pot smoking, larcenous pseudo-mechanic/handyman, Bob Stonewell) as they deal with the arrival of The Transformers, a mysterious commune-like collection of New Age strangers with a big-time secret up their tie-dyed sleeves.
Beauchamp’s ill-fated retirement from criminal law is once again put on hold as this time he is pressed into service to represent his lovely, talented, unfaithful wife as she faces a $50 million dollar lawsuit after inadvertently spilling the beans on a rival politician who it seems enjoys being flogged on the bare backside by a Russian dominatrix.
There is, as there always is in Deverell creations, much to like. The perfect pacing, the engaging characters (both good and bad), the laugh-out-loud moments, the courtroom drama (Deverell was a very successful trial lawyer in his former life) and, of course, the twists—Whipped is, after all, a mystery...all are very much in evidence in this seventh Beauchamp offering.
While the book was well-worth my self-imposed wait, I’m not sure I’ll ever again be able to put off the pleasure of diving into a subsequent installment in the life and times of Arthur Beauchamp because what I have learned is that that the right time to indulge oneself in a Bill Deverell novel…is right now.
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Spending several satisfying days with Beauchamp and company on mythical Garibaldi Island is just one of the encounters I’ve recently enjoyed with a wonderful crop of British Columbia mystery writers. I’ve also become a big-time fan of BC Blues, a terrific series by Nelson-based RM Greenaway and was treated as well to a solid collection of short fiction, Vancouver Noir, edited by a master of that sub-genre, Sam Weibe.