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Stanley Park

Stanley Park

also available: Paperback
tagged : literary

A young chef who revels in local bounty, a long-ago murder that remains unsolved, the homeless of Stanley Park, a smooth-talking businessman named Dante - these are the ingredients of Timothy Taylor's stunning debut novel - Kitchen Confidential meets The Edible Woman.

Trained in France, Jeremy Papier, the young Vancouver chef, is becoming known for his unpretentious dishes that highlight fresh, local ingredients. His restaurant, The Monkey's Paw Bistro, while struggling financially, is attracting …

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The Canvasback

They arranged to meet at Lost Lagoon. It was an in-between place, the city on one side, Stanley Park on the other. Ten years of rare contact, and they had sought each other out. Surprised each other, created expectations.

Now the Professor was late.

Jeremy Papier found a bench up the hill from the lagoon and opened a section of newspaper across the wet boards. The bench was between two cherry trees, the pink blossoms of which met high over his head forming an arch, a doorway. It wasn’t precisely the spot they’d discussed–the Professor had suggested the boathouse–but it was within eyesight, within shouting distance. It was close enough. If he had to wait, Jeremy thought, settling onto the paper and blowing out a long breath, he was going to sit. He crossed one long, aching leg over the other. He fingered the tooling on a favourite pair of cowboy boots, ran long fingers through tangled black hair.

He sat because he was tired, certainly. Jeremy accepted that being a chef, even a young chef, meant being exhausted most of the time. But there had also been a family portrait taken here, on this bench, years before. Also early spring, he remembered; the three of them had sat here under the cherry blossoms.

Jeremy on the one side, seven years old. His mother, Hélène, on the other. The Professor had his arms around them both, feet flat on the grass. He looked extremely pleased. Jeremy’s mother was less obviously so, her expression typically guarded, although she made dozens of copies of the photo and sent these off to relatives spread across Europe from Ireland to Spain, from the Czech Republic to as far east as Bulgaria. Documenting settlement. He wondered if his father, who had no relations other than those in the photo, would remember this detail.

Now Jeremy lit a cigarette and watched an erratic stream of homeless people making their way into the forest for the night. When he arrived there had been seawall walkers and hotdog eaters, birdwatchers, rollerbladers, chess players returning from the picnic tables over by bowling greens. Then lagoon traffic changed direction like a freak tide. The flow of those heading back to their warm apartments in the West End tapered to nothing, and the paths were filled with the delusional, the alcoholic, the paranoid, the bipolar. The Professor’s subjects, his obsession. The inbound. Four hundred hectares of Stanley Park offering its bleak, anonymous shelter to those without other options.

Of course, Jeremy didn’t have to remind himself, the Professor had other options.

They had discussed meeting on the phone earlier in the week. When Jeremy picked up–expecting a late reservation, maybe his black-cod supplier, who was due into Vancouver the next morning–he heard wind and trees rustling at the other end of the line. Normally reticent, the Professor was animated about his most recent research.

“… following on from everything that I have done,” he said, “culminating with this work.” From his end, standing at a pay phone on the far side of the lagoon, the Professor could hear the dishwasher hammering away in the background
behind his son’s tired response.

“Participatory anthropology. Is that what you call it now?” Jeremy was saying. “I thought it was immersive.”

“Like everything,” the Professor answered, “my work has evolved.”

He needed help with something, the Professor said. He wanted to meet.

“How unusual,” Jeremy said.

“And what advice can I give on running a restaurant?” the Professor shot back.

“None,” Jeremy answered. “I just said there was something I wanted to talk to you about. Something that had to do with the restaurant.”

“Strange times,” the Professor said, looking into the darkness around the pay phone. Checking instinctively.

Very strange. The stream of those inbound had slowed to a trickle. A trio of men passed, bent behind shopping carts that were draped and hung with plastic, heaped to the height of pack horses, bags full of other bags. Jeremy could only wonder at the purpose of them all, although the Professor could have told him that the bag itself captured the imagination. It held emblematic power. For its ability to hold, certainly. To secure contents, to carry belongings from place to place. But even the smell of the plastic, its oily permanence, suggested the resilience of things discarded.

Jeremy watched the three men make their way around the lagoon and disappear into the trails. He glanced at his watch, sighed. Lifted his chin and breathed in the saline breeze. It brought to mind the ocean beyond the park, sockeye salmon schooling in the deep, waiting for the DNA-encoded signal to turn in their millions and rush the mouth of the Fraser, the tributary offshoot, the rivulet of water and the gravel-bed spawning grounds beyond. Mate, complete the cycle, die. And then, punctuating this thought, the rhododendron bushes across the lawn boiled briefly and disgorged Caruzo, the Professor’s manic vanguard.

“Hey, hey,” Caruzo said, approaching the bench. “Chef Papier.” He exhaled the words in a blast.

He dressed for the mobile outdoor life, Caruzo. Three or four sweaters, a torn corduroy jacket, a heavy coat, then a raincoat over all of that. It made the big man even bigger, the size of a lineman, six foot five, although stooped a little with the years. Those being of an indeterminate number; Jeremy imagined only that it must be between fifty and ninety. Caruzo had a white garbage bag tied on over one shoe, although it was only threatening to rain, and pants wrapped at the knees in electrical tape. His ageless, wind-beaten face was protected by a blunt beard that fell to his chest. Exposed skin had darkened, blackened as a chameleon might against the same forest backdrop.

“The Professor,” Caruzo announced, “is waiting.”

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Saltwater Cowboys

Saltwater Cowboys

also available: eBook

After generations of prosperity in the mining town of Brighton, Newfoundland, Jack and Angela McCarthy find themselves jobless. In order to keep his family together, Jack accepts a job in a gold mine in the wilds of northern Alberta.


Arriving in Foxville, the McCarthys find themselves resented, bullied, and cast as outsiders. When Jack’s best friend, Peter, is swindled out of his savings and resorts to stealing from the mine, his attempts at reversing their fortunes thrust …

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A Journeyman to Grief

A Journeyman to Grief

also available: Paperback Paperback
tagged :

The abduction of a young woman in 1858 ends in Toronto thirty-eight years later — in murder.

In 1858, a young woman on her honeymoon is forcibly abducted and taken across the border from Canada and sold into slavery. Thirty-eight years later, Detective Murdoch is working on a murder case that will take all of his resourcefulness to solve. The owner of one of Toronto’s livery stables has been found dead. He has been horsewhipped and left hanging from his wrists in his tack room, and his wife c …

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JULY 1858

She glanced over her shoulder to see if he was coming. What could he be doing? He’d been gone more than half an hour, and all he’d had to do was pick up the forgotten tobacco pouch from their hotel room and come right back. They had planned to take the steamer boat across the Falls, but they’d miss it if he didn’t hurry. She shaded her eyes against the sun, but the road was deserted except for a carriage that was approaching slowly, the horse’s head drooping wearily. She consulted the gold fob watch that had been her father’s wedding present to her. It was a beautiful and extravagant gift, but the giving of it was marred by her father being in his cups and barely able to utter his congratulation, so that when she did consult the watch, her pride in its richness was tainted by her disappointment in him.

She shifted back on the bench. To her left, she could see a rainbow arching over the high-flung spray of the cascading water. She had been excited to come here for her honeymoon, but the week so far had been less than happy. Initially, she had been self-conscious, sure that the other guests were staring at them in disapproval. When she confessed this to her husband, he was dismissive rather than kind, but she clung to his words: “You are the most beautiful woman in the room. The men covet you and the women are envious. Nobody knows. They think you are a Spanish countess.”

She longed for him to say more, but in the short time they had been married, she had learned not to press forward with any discussion he didn’t want to have. When he was courting her, he had been tender and solicitous, but nothing, not even her Aunt Hattie’s blunt warnings about “man’s nature,” had prepared her for the roughness of their conjugal relations. She couldn’t hide her discomfort, and he was impatient with her. “I wouldn’t have expected such coldness from you of all people.” She had cried so hard the first night that he had finally relented and teased and tickled her into a precarious laughter. This morning, she’d woken to find him sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at her. He had kissed her fiercely. “Today, I want you to wear your best blue silk gown, your largest crinoline, and your big hat with the peacock feathers. You will be the belle of the promenade.”

So she had, and laced herself with unnecessary tightness that she now regretted on this hot day. Another quick check of the watch. What could be keeping him?

She heard the soft jingle of a horse’s bridle and looked over her shoulder again. The carriage had halted and a man was coming across the grass toward her. He was heavy-set with a full untrimmed beard and moustache. His clothes and skin looked grubby. She fancied she could smell his stale sweat, but that impression might have been born only later, when he was on top of her. Somehow, from the first, her flesh knew who he was even though her mind would not accept it. Ever afterwards, she scourged herself for not immediately running toward the protection of the few visitors who were hanging over the railings watching the water. But then he was talking to her and she made the terrible mistake of listening.

“Ma’am, I must ask you to accompany me. I have bad news. Your husband has been taken ill. He’s in your hotel.”

She gasped. “What has happened to him?”

The man shrugged. “I can’t say. All I know is I was sent to find you and bring you to him at once. The doctor’s been summoned. You’re staying at the Grand, ain’t you?”

She nodded, not taking her eyes from his face, from the mouth that was smiling at her so falsely. Suddenly he stepped forward, and in one swift movement he pulled her from the bench. In a ghastly parody of an embrace, he crushed her against his chest so that her hat was almost knocked off her head, her nose and mouth were smothered, and she couldn’t breathe. She felt herself being carried to the carriage and thrust inside.

There was another man within whom she couldn’t see because she was shoved to the floor face down and at the same time something was stuffed in her mouth. It was vile-tasting and leathery, like a glove. The man pinned her with his knee, and in a moment he’d tied her hands behind her back. The carriage lurched forward.

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Night's Child

Night's Child

also available: Paperback Paperback Paperback
tagged :

After thirteen-year-old Agnes Fisher faints at school, her teacher, the young and still idealistic Amy Slade, is shocked to discover in the girl’s desk two stereoscopic photographs. One is of a dead baby in its cradle, and on the back Agnes has scrawled a terrible message. Worse, the other photograph is of Agnes in a pose captioned “What Mr. Newly Wed Really Wants.” When Agnes doesn’t show up at school the next day, her teacher takes the two photographs to the police. Murdoch, furious at …

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Chapter One

Miss Amy Slade was seated at her desk, surveying her class. For the moment, the room was quiet, the only sound was of chalk moving on slate boards. By rights the children should have been writing in notebooks, but Miss Slade had taken spare slates from the lower standards and used them for rough work. “Then you ­don’t have to worry about perfection, which as we know ­doesn’t exist,” she told her pupils. She caught the eye of Emmanuel Hart and frowned at him.

“How many times must I remind you, Emmanuel? The mind is like a muscle and must be exercised else it grow flabby and inert.”

The boy bent his head immediately to the task of long division. He was a big boy, too old to still be in the fourth standard, but he had missed a lot of school and his reading and writing was barely at the level of the younger children. In a different classroom he would have been either the bully or the butt of ridicule. Not here. Miss Slade, without ever resorting to the cane, ran a tight, disciplined ship. She was strict about what she called the rules of order, which she’d established on the first day of the term. No talking when there was work to be done; only one voice at a time when there was a question-­and-­answer period; absolutely no tormenting of other children. Any infraction of these rules and the offending child, almost always one of the boys, was sent to the Desk of Thoughtfulness, which was right under her nose. Here he had to sit and reflect on his behaviour while all around him the class enjoyed the games and competitions that Miss Slade used to liven up her lessons. “Learning should be the most fun you ever have,” she told her pupils. And so she made it. On her desk was a large jar full of brightly coloured boiled sweets. The winner of the competition could choose one. But it was not just the succulent bribery of raspberry drops that won the children’s devotion, even though that helped a great deal. What they came to respect most was Miss Slade’s justice. She dispensed praise and occasional scoldings with an absolutely even hand whether it was to a hopeless case like Emmanuel Hart or to Mary, the clever, exquisitely dressed daughter of Councillor Blong. One or two of the girls, already too prissy to be saved, disliked and mistrusted her, but the others loved her.

This was Miss Slade’s third year of teaching at Sackville Street School and her fourth placement. Although her pupils ­didn’t know it, her contract was precarious. She was far too radical a teacher for the board’s taste, and if she ­hadn’t consistently produced such excellent results, she would have been dismissed long ago.

She waited a moment longer, enjoying the put, put sound of the chalk on the slates. Then she clapped her hands.

"Excellent. There is nothing quite as fine as the silence of the intelligent mind at work. What is it that makes so much noise? Hands up if you know the answer.”

Every arm shot up, hands waving like fronds.

“Good. I would expect you to know the answer to that as I have said it innumerable times. Who ­hasn’t answered a question lately? Benjamin Fisher, you.”

The skinny boy’s face lit up. “The most noise in the brain comes from the rattle of empty thoughts, Miss Slade.”

“Yes, of course. You can get a sweet later. Now, wipe off your slates, everybody, and put them in your desks.”

There was a little flurry of activity, desk lids lifted, as the children did as she asked.

“Monitors, open the windows wide, if you please.”

Florence Birrell and Emmanuel Hart got up promptly and went to push up the window sashes. Cold air poured into the classroom, which was hot and stuffy. The large oil heater in the centre of the room dried out the air. The girls who were sitting closest to the windows wrapped their arms in their pinafores for warmth while the boys remained stoic.

“Good! Stand beside your desks, everybody, and assume your positions for cultivation of the chest.”

The children stood in the aisles, their heels pressed together, toes turned out at an angle.

“Remember now, your weight must be forward on the balls of your feet. Let me see. Rise up.”

One or two of the boys deliberately lost their balance, which gave them an excuse to flail their arms and grab on to the desk beside them.

“George Strongithorn, stop that. You will sit out the exercise in the Desk of Thoughtfulness if you misbehave again. You are quite capable of standing on your toes. All right, children, you may assume your correct position once more.”

Miss Slade began to walk up and down, inspecting her pupils. She had her cane pointer in her hand but not to whack at any child, merely to correct.

Benjamin’s older sister, Agnes Fisher, who was directly in front of the open window, shivered violently. She was wearing only a thin cotton jersey underneath her pinafore.

“Agnes, come to the front. It’s warmer out of the air.”

Miss Slade faced the class. “Now, all together. Inhale . . . and exhale as you say the word far. Whispers please. Farrr.”

There was a soft sighing throughout the room.

“Twice more. Joseph, for goodness sake, your mouth should be closed, not catching flies.”

A giggle ran through the ranks.

Miss Slade, whose chest was well cultivated, lead the way. “Inhale through the right nostril only. And exhale through the left nostril.”

Henry Woolway had a bad cold and blew out some snot as he exhaled. He wiped it away with his sleeve. Without comment Miss Slade handed him a clean handkerchief from her pocket.

The children continued to breathe, first through one nostril then the other, puny chests thrust out and upward.

“All right, we will pause for a moment. Isaiah, you are still prone to making your shoulders do all the work. That is wrong. It is the lower chest that must rise.”

“Sorry, Miss Slade. My chest bone hurts if I breathe in too deep.”

Isaiah had a persistent dry cough.

She tapped hard on her own chest with her two fingers. “This is what you must do every day without fail, Isaiah. Firm percussion for five minutes. Then splash cold water on your neck and chest, followed by a dry warm towel. Within three weeks, we should see some improvement.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

There were four younger children in Isaiah’s family and the closest he got to water in the morning was a damp rag that his mother made him whisk around the face and ears of the two next down. She ­didn’t seem to notice whether he did the same to himself. Miss Slade read his face correctly.

“On second thoughts, Isaiah, we’ll do the exercise when you come to school and I will be able to supervise.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

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Shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Selected as an Amazon.ca Best Book and for The Globe 100 Books in 2013.

"In the creation of David Slaney, Lisa Moore brings us an unforgettable character, embodying the exuberance and energy of misspent youth. Caught is a propulsive and harrowing read."
- Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers

Internationally acclaimed author Lisa Moore offers us a remarkable new novel about a man who escapes from pris …

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