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FRENCH CREEK by Peter Rennebohm

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By Theresa de Valence - Posted on 25 June 2007

Peter Rennebohm, the author, is still a very nice man and I still haven’t met him. That I would continue to trust him unchaperoned with my nieces is possibly surprising because he is the same author who created the bad guys in FRENCH CREEK and they are thoroughly evil.

FRENCH CREEK is the first fiction novel by Peter Rennebohm. In places the author’s voice is a bit rough (compared with his second book which I’ve already read), but the voice is not overly clumsy and it carries the same clear positive belief in the basic goodness of the world.

Peter Rennebohm is a masterful plotter. He weaves a tapestry of permutations for his characters with a small set of events, and each event dumps everyone into an ever-embroiling soup. In a couple of instances, I prefigured events in a storyline, but in both cases the events came in different ways than I predicted. The protagonist, John L. Rule, starts out in an impossible situation and it only gets worse! The villains are terrible, vile men. Their thoughts and motives are well-rendered—but worse, they are perfectly plausible human beings.

Some say we crime fiction addicts read mysteries because we like happy endings. I was thankful for this because there are several spots in FRENCH CREEK, where I got worried that things might not work out well. The author did a great job making me tense enough to keep turning pages and stay up much, much later than my usual bedtime.

Dog lovers will be amused with this story.

The artwork for FRENCH CREEK and the second novel were both done by Mark Evans. Delightfully, the covers are actual paintings done by a classically trained artist. The artwork is competent with a great tone—rich with flavour and feeling—providing an excellent precursor for the story to come.

The author romanticizes the plains of the western prairies and brings them to life, even in the middle of a great thundering snowstorm. Not that I’d ever willingly return to the land of the snow, but the author makes the idea enticing. From an armchair.

Though I warn you, don’t start FRENCH CREEK with any other plans for the day because you won’t be able to put it down.