Review: The Night the Gods Smiled by Eric Wright

Genre: Mystery
Year of publication: 1983
No. in series: 1
Type of investigator: Police
Series detective: Inspector Charlie Salter
Setting & time: Toronto and Montreal, Canada; 1980's

When a college professor from Toronto is murdered in Montreal, the Montreal police request help from the Toronto police, as the man spent his last hours in the company of his Toronto colleagues, who have all returned home. The case is assigned to Inspector Salter, whose career has stalled because of office politics. He sees this as his chance to get back in the promotions game and starts work on what turns out to be a complicated case, not the least because many of the witnesses have something to hide.

Review and rating:
This is a nice little detective story, not quite a police procedural and not quite a cosy, but something in-between. In Charlie Salter, Wright has managed to create a very likeable character, and it’s refreshing that while there is some minor conflict within his marriage, it is of the kind that gets solved by the end of the book rather than lead to the separation/divorce one has come to expect when a police detective is having marriage troubles. (BTW, why on earth do authors have to bring the personal lives of their detectives into the story? Most of the time is serves little or no purpose). The mystery is intriguing, the author plays fair with the reader, and the humour is subtle and often ironic and lightens up the story. It's well worth looking for if you like gentle mysteries starring police detectives. 4 stars.

Awards: The New Blood Dagger Award, 1983; The Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for best novel, 1984; The City of Toronto Book Award, 1984.


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