William Deverell — Novelist

The official website of William Deverell, Winner of the Dashiell Hammett Award for Literary Excellence in North American Crime Writing

Nine-One-One

Print Version of CBC's Five-Minute Mystery Series

Rockford Files

“911” was my recent contribution to the CBC Radio’s Five-Minute-Mystery Series. The audible version (with Deverell playing the perp) can be found by scrolling down a few entries to 911 on the CBC’s books site. We hear only the caller’s voice, as if overheard from outside a pay phone booth, and sirens near the end.

The script as written:

Nine-one-one? Are you there?

Yes, ma’am, this is an emergency, there’s been a sudden death…

Well, why do you have to know my name …

No, I do not reside at the address shown on your display. I’m at a pay phone outside some dank saloon in a freaking strip mall! I don’t have a home. The bank owns my home. I currently reside in a Saab 9-7X that I used to own. In case you’re interested, there’s been a shooting. Do you require more unnecessary information before I tell you about it?

Continues…

The Blog: July 6

On Thrill Killing, Libel, and Writers Block

Where was I? Well, obviously not looking after this sporadic blog.

In my defence, I’ve been driving to complete a first draft of an Arthur Beauchamp novel, a kind of horror sendup, a thrill killer stalking our anxiety-ridden hero. Does he survive? I won’t spoil the ending.

Still looking for a title. The Last Days of Arthur Beauchamp, something like that.

As well, I’ve been distracted by my personal horror show: that grumpy old fellow pictured in my posting of March 19 just won’t let up. To my astonishment, Horace Widgeon has discovered crowd-funding, and is exhorting his fans to kick in for the doubtless atrocious fees of his supposed hotshot counsel, Ballentine J. Bingham, Esq.

Regrettably, my guard dogs (see below) turned out not to be as ferocious as I’d hoped, and were nuzzling and crotch-sniffing Bingham’s pretty student lawyer as she thrust a writ at me through my open studio window. I wasn’t checking my security camera – too busy enjoying a scene where Beauchamp gets busted for pot trafficking.

Mesmerized by the sweet scene of face-licking dog love, I accepted the writ. It accuses me of libel and copyright theft. They’re starting at $500,000.

Come on, fellows, why can’t we settle this the old-fashioned way. A gloved slap. Muskets at fifty paces. Otherwise, I have a friend in Sicily (pictured here) prepared to make a counter-offer you can’t refuse. Don Corleone2 We would be saddened to see your client embarrassed by a public revealing of his terrible secret.

Enough said. Back to work. Here’s a lovely, long-winded tip about writers block from my nemesis’s masterwork, Secrets of the Whodunit.

“Do not mentally exhaust yourself. Before chance (and whatever small talents I possess) favoured me with literary success, I too had a day job, as inspector for Her Majesty’s Customs, and I would often arrive at work exhausted after scribbling till three in the morning. Many a smuggled item must have slipped through on my watch! So please, when you see nothing but rot on your page, take a deep breath, pack your pages away, and make a soothing cup of Earl Grey while you climb into your pyjamas.”

I prefer Chandler’s Law: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”

In my last posting, on suspects, I overlooked this delicious advice from the vigilance-challenged former customs officer:

“The tardy entrance of your final suspect must not be seen as an afterthought, idly tossed off. Even the dullest of readers should exclaim: ‘Eureka!’ as they realize they ought to have paid more attention to the boring parts.”

Next posting: how to skip over the boring parts. (For instance, the entirety of Widgeon’s short-story collection, Stiff in the Freezer.)

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The Blog: May 27

On Suspects, Villains, and Masturbation

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The Blog: April 13

More Hot Murder Tips

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The Blog: March 19

Widgeon Wakes Sleeping Dogs

HORACE WIDGEON

Creator of the Inspector Grodgins Series

Cobble Cottage
18, Vicarage Lane
Tywardreath
Cornwall, England
PL24 2AG

March 18, 2013

Dear Mr. Deverell,

Many days have I struggled to still my indignation at your impertinent public response to my sincere offer to accept an unrestrained apology in settlement of issues between us. But at the risk of offending my solicitors, who advise I let sleeping dogs lie while their writ plods its way through court, I cannot let your canards go unchallenged.

Let me say firstly I am proud to bear the name of the great Horace of Caesar’s time, whose satire was intended for social abuses, not personal attacks and ridicule.

Particularly, I want to assure you that the action I am taking has nothing to do with your intemperate review of Blood on the Remainder Table. Please know that I have simply shaken off, like a wet dog, your laments about my allegedly inapt metaphors and “interminable” sentences; however, I warn you that far too often have you skated on the thin ice of libel when commenting on works by our compatriots, so I propose to strike a blow for my fellow scribes by suing you for defamation and theft (yes, theft, my good sir, for you have filched not just my good name – that “precious ointment,” if I dare quote that greatest poet and crime writer of all time) but have stolen that which I daresay does indeed enrich you: the copywritten creations born of my lonely labours at this very keyboard. I am instructed that in one of your novels, Kill All the Judges (which I haven’t read, having assigned my clerk to shoulder that repugnant task) contains some fifteen quotes lifted holus bolus from The Art of the Whodunit. That book retails at ten quid in trade paper!

Nor do my demands for satisfaction have anything to do with my narrow loss in the finals of the Nero awards of several years ago. Though as an aside, let me say there was quite a stir at Cheltenham Press when word came from the jury room that Get Grodgins was favoured. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them that with Deverell on the jury, my book stood as much chance, to use a metaphor, as the egg the chicken laid on the road.

Meanwhile, I am instructed to advise you, in the event that you try to evade service of the writ, that my solicitors have retained a leading Canadian counsel to petition the courts for an injunction to close down your blog pending trial of my claim which, I shall warn you now, Mr. Deverell, will involve a sufficient sum in damages to put you on your beam ends.

Sincerely, Horace Widgeon, OBE, MBE

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Blog Posts

Books

Book cover

2012I’ll See You in My Dreams - New edition!

Given I’m too shy to use my own words, here’s how my editor describes this novel, which opened at Number 4 on the McLean’s best-seller list and was a 2012 finalist for the Best Crime Novel Award :

“The most gripping and explosive murder case in the career of Vancouver’s great barrister Arthur Beauchamp has sent echoes resounding across five decades. The story begins in 1962 when Arthur is 25, just as he’s about to abandon law for academia, having decided he can’t bear to defend any more thieves and thugs. But he is suddenly handed his first murder case, the legal-aid defence of Gabriel Swift, a bright, young, politically active aboriginal accused of killing Professor Dermot Mulligan, world-renowned scholar and author, and former principal of a Native residential school.

The quality paperback edition of I’ll See You in My Dreams is also now available as an e-book. For more information and to purchase this title please visit…

http://www.mcclelland.com/catalog/results.pperl?searchBtn.x=0&searchBtn.y=0&title_subtitle_auth_isbn=deverell

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SNow Job book cover

Oct 2009Snow Job

This is the novel that many dared me (a thrice-failed candidate for office) to write: a novel that takes the mickey out of our posturing politicians while maintaining the tension of a true thriller but with great dollops of humour. A genre-jumping finalist for the Stephen Leacock Award, it was read with glee, I’m told, by Ottawa insiders, One wrote: “Warmest congrats on Snow Job, it is your and Arthur’s fulfillment. I was especially delighted by the recognition of the poisonous mix of vanity, fear and highly conditional loyalty that makes up political life at the top. I thought of your acuity as I wandered through various Xmas parties on the Hill this year - rife with angst on all sides.”

For more information and to purchase this title please visit…

http://www.mcclelland.com/catalog/results.pperl?searchBtn.x=0&searchBtn.y=0&title_subtitle_auth_isbn=deverell

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Kill All the Judges

April 2008Kill All The Judges

This comic thriller was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock award, and it drew widely upon this author’s growing collection of characters, including the ever-introspective Arthur Beauchamp, and the Garibaldi Island oddballs who constantly plague him. Here’s a summary:

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April Fool cover

Sept 2006April Fool

Winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for best Canadian crime novel…

“Hugely entertaining.” Calgary Herald

“The insular life of isolated places - Bamfield, Garibaldi - expensive law firms and the courtroom are handled with an insider’s knowledge and an iconoclastic sense of humour. Deverell writes breathless prose. Arthur Beauchamp is a lovely guy – spouting Latin, worrying about getting up to speed in the courtroom after such a hiatus, and fearing an inability to get it up when Margaret leaves her perch. He manages to be a scholar, a courtroom wonder and a doofus. April Fool spills over with idiosyncratic characters. The novel blasts out of the starting gate, rockets along, is hugely entertaining. Deverell plays with the blending of good and bad, but one thing is transparent - the fight for the environment, however goofy at times, is essential.” Edmonton Journal

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Laughing falcon cover

Sept 2004The Laughing Falcon

An adventure thriller layered with humour and startling twists, with a cast of wildly eccentric characters.

All that Maggie Schneider, a shy, awkward romance writer from wintry Saskatoon, wants is a tropical holiday and maybe a real romance to stir her creative juices. What she gets instead, soon after she arrives in Costa Rica, is a nasty surprise. First she is robbed of most of her money by a handsome, smooth-talking Latino. Then she and the wife of a prominent US Senator are kidnapped and held for ransom somewhere in the steamy jungle by self-styled revolutionaries led by a charismatic man with a mysterious background. Enter heavy-drinking Slack Sawchuk, whitewater guide, ex-CIA agent, who is dragged into the thick of things to attempt a daring rescue…

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