T.J. Peterson

Created by Bob Kroll

It does this Canadian's heart good to see a P.I. series come out of Halifax, Nova Scotia -- one of my favourite cities in the world.

But it's also a bit of a downer, because Nova Scotian writer Bob Kroll never quite gets around to actually naming the city that his melancholy detective T.J. PETERSON calls home, although he does allow that it's a "port city on Canada's east coast."

Ladies and gentlemen, this ain't Digby.

But whatever...

Peterson's Halifax is a big step away from the picturesque, sun-and-fun postcards of the Citadel and the Bluenose II. So don't expect T.J.'s Halifax to be part of any shiny tourist brochures anytime soon -- it's a noirish swirl of dive bars, crack houses, daytime drinkers, child prostitutes, 12 gauge-toting killers, empty strip malls, money launderers, unscrupulous dentists, human traffickers, and assorted human flotsam going nowhere, one day at a time.

Like T.J., who's not exactly tourist bait himself. He's a divorced grizzled homicide detective who drinks too much, and whose most regular human contact outside of work is his estranged daughter, a runaway who leaves daily silent video messages of an empty room for him, just to torment him.

When we first meet T.J. in The Drop Zone (2015), he's still a cop, but already on the way out, even if he doesn't realize it. By the time we hook up again in the sequel, The Hell of It All (2017), he's "retired," and not doing much better. He's still drinking and he's still getting hate calls from his daughter. Only now he doesn't have a regular job to give some form to his life. He's roughing it as a unlicensed P.I., living off cases tossed his way by his former partner, Danny Little.

Yeah, it's well-traveled turf: the broken, brooding loner detective aiming for some sort of redemption through solving other people's problems. but it's the sort of turf where the writing alone can make all the difference, and any guy who can throw out lines like "dressing (a) comment in a dollar store laugh" or having T.J. reaching for "the pint of Johnny Walker on the shotgun seat" knows how to write. There's style here galore, and enough tight and taut ratatatat dialogue to keep things moving hard and fast.

The author has been writing professionally for more than 35 years. He's written books (Scamps and Scoundrels: True Stories of Maritime Legends [2013]), stage plays, radio dramas, TV documentaries, as well as historical docu-dramas for Canadian and American museums. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

NOVELS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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