Sam Klein

Created by Allan Levine

The Jets, The Guess Who, Portage and Main, and now SAM KLEIN. It's about time Winnipeg finally got its own P.I.

It's 1911 in the "wickedest city in the Dominion," and Sam, in his first recorded appearance (The Blood Libel, 1997), is just another tough guy for hire, working as a bouncer in a local brothel. Then he's persuaded to look into the murder of a Polish working girl -- a murder that's being blamed on a North End rabbi. Suffice it to say that Winnipeg at the time wasn't exactly known for its friendly attitude towards Jews.

But Sam must have persevered and ultimately done okay, because he's since shown up in a second novel, Sins of the Suffragette (2002) which takes place a few years later, wherein he's chucked the brothel gig, to look into the mysterious death of a suffragette, and encounters real-life feminist activist Nellie McClung, while The Bolshevik's Revenge (2002) found Sam caught up in the maelstrom of the Winnipeg General Strike. More novels were promised in this series, although it was years before the next one, The Bootlegger's Congession (2016), showed up.

There's some pretty good local and historical colour in this series, and Levine really seems to capture the feel of the turn-of-the-century Prairie town where immigrants from the city's tough-and-tumble North End struggle to find an identity in a world dominated by white middle-class WASPs and their would-be pretensions.

But then, Allan Levine should know his stuff. He's primarily known as a Canadian historian and educator, author of the award-winning non-fiction title Fugitives of the Forest, or at least he was, until he penned The Blood Libel, which was short-listed for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award.


  • "Historians seldom extend their talents to murder mysteries, but Allan Levine has done just that, and The Blood Libel turns out to be chilling and believable. It is a tale that portrays North End Winnipeg of 1911 when it was raw and ribald, and carries the reader along to an astonishing climax."

-- Peter C. Newman

  • "This novel (The Blood Libel) has a lot going for it. First, there's the setting, lovingly evoked by Levine, a historian. Then there's the premise, the dreadful blood libel accusation against the Jews, used by successive regimes as an excuse for murder, massacre and violence. Finally, there's a clever character named Sam Klein, who makes his living guarding a whorehouse and who makes a fine detective... "

-- The Globe and Mail



My 2002 review of The Bolshevik's Revenge for January Magazine.

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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