Ashley Smeeton

Created by Anna Dowdall

The author calls them "Gothic cozy mysteries" but there's a welcome dash of simmering noir in her well-received books about young Montreal detective ASHLEY SMEETON.

The books are full of the usual suspects: betrayed fiancées, beautiful young heiresses, long-lost relatives, isolated estates, creaky old houses and more than enough dark secrets to furnish them, but the sharply drawn scenes of Montreal and the surrounding Quebec countryside and detailed attention to the weather (the author is Canadian, after all) are a refreshing change for this genre, although the purportedly modern setting seem curiously timeless -- the first book, After the Winter (2017), takes place in 1999, when Ashley is just a kid who may have read a few too many Nancy Drews).

By the second book The Au Pair (2017), though, Ashley takes centre stage, as a now all grown-up twenty-something, ambitious but pragmatic, struggling to keep her small Montreal detective agency afloat. Struggling so hard, in fact, that she reluctantly accepts a part-time gig as an au pair at a resort in the scenic Laurentians. Naturally, the bodies soon start piling up, and we're once again off to the races.

It'll be interesting to see where Dowdall will take the rookie detective, now that she's brought her into the present. Will she continue in a contemporary setting, or will she hop back in forth in time, giving us snapshots of the detective as a young girl? Will she turn up the edgy darkness, or retreat back to the narrower confines of the genre?

The author was born in Montreal and currently lives in Toronto with numerous cats. The first novel in the series was a semi-finalist for both the Katherine Paterson prize and for Canada's Arthur Ellis Award in the unpublished category. She cites Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier and Louise Penny as influences.

UNDER OATH

  • "Dowdall's impressive novel is an entertaining and suspenseful entry in the gothic mystery genre. The setting is a key component of the tale, and Quebec and Midwinter are vividly rendered. The author captures the unique rhythms of life in this picturesque community, from the locals who call Quebec home to the wealthy newcomers seeking a second residence. The strong setting is matched by her well-developed characters..."

-- Kirkus Reviews on After the Winter

NOVELS

RELATED LINKS

Other Montréal and Other Québec Eyes

  • Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Arlene Osborne, Al Hubin and Radio Spirits' Carl Amari for the heads up. Original cover scan courtesy of Mark Terry at Facsimile Dust Jackets.


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