Tag Archives: Dundurn Press

A day in the life of Meg Harris by R.J. Harlick

Several days before

“Time to get up, sleepyhead,” drifted a male voice through the haze. “You’ve been sawing away loudly enough to wake the dead.”

Where did he come from? I blinked, but could only see the icy blue eyes of a white-haired old woman glowering at me. She looked too much like my dead mother.

Something touched my shoulder.

I swatted it away as hard as I could and woke up.

Eric, my husband, rubbed his hand as he backed away from the bed. “Sorry, I forgot.”

“No, no, please, don’t, it’s my fault.” I tried to quell the revulsion sweeping over me and failed. Usually I could. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have reacted like that. Did I hurt you?“

I pushed myself up and leaned against the pine backboard of the narrow bed with the duvet still tucked firmly around me. My skin burned where he’d touched me.

He shook his head. “It’s my fault, Meg. I know better.”

I tensed, worried he would break the gnawing silence that was now an unspoken part of our marriage.

He peered down at me through eyes glistening with both love and pity.

I glanced away. I couldn’t bear the pity.

Instead he changed the topic. “It looks like you got some sleep last night. It’ll do you good.”

“I guess. What about you?”

We no longer shared the same bed. I’d moved into one of the spare rooms, while he remained in our bedroom. We’d argued over it initially. Though he reluctantly accepted the need for separate beds, he felt he was the one who should move. But I’d insisted that I was the one with the problem, therefore I should be the one to move. And so we’d lived ever since.

“Big day today.” His smile didn’t touch the sadness in his soft grey eyes. “You better get packing. Will’s coming to drive us to the airport in a couple of hours.”

My stomach clenched.

“I brought your suitcase up.” He wheeled the hard-sided, purple bag into the room and turned it over to unzip.

“Just leave it, okay? I’ll do it myself.” I’d been ignoring the suitcase waiting in the kitchen, where Eric had left it after retrieving it from the shed.

“You are coming?”

“I said I would, didn’t I?” I could feel the fear crawl over my skin. I didn’t know how many months it had been since I’d dared to travel beyond my Three Deer Point property. No, that wasn’t true. I knew exactly when.

“A visit to Yellowknife will do you a lot of good. And you’ll be able to have a nice visit with Teht’aa.”

“I know.” It had been many months since his daughter had tried to help me pull my life together. Once suspicious of each other, we had become good friends. Given the ten-year age difference we were more like sisters than step-mother and daughter.

“Look, I know this will be difficult for you, but you need to get away from this house, these woods and all the. . .” He paused and ran this fingers through his mane of grey-streaked black hair as if trying to decide if he should continue. “This place has too many bad associations. You’ll feel a lot better once you are away. Remember, that’s what the therapist said.”

“I know.” In the early days, right after The Nightmare, Eric had persuaded me to see a psycho-therapist. I’d lasted two visits.

“So come on, get out of bed. I have breakfast waiting for you downstairs. Your favourite, poached eggs on toast with smoked salmon.”

He gave me one last thoughtful glance before heading out the door and down the stairs.

I didn’t think I could eat. My stomach was too tied up in knots.

Poor Eric. My one and only love. I didn’t deserve such a wonderful and caring man.

If only I could break the silence. But I can’t. I’ve tried. But I’m afraid. If he knew everything that had happened, he wouldn’t want me anymore. And if he left, my life would be over.

I heard a running patter up the stairs and along the hall floor. A rippling ball of grey curls rushed through the door and onto my bed.

“Oh Shoni.” I buried my face in the dog’s soft fur. “I don’t know what to do. If I keep acting like a frigid ice queen, he’s going to leave me anyway.”


You can read more about Meg in Purple Palette for Murder, the 8th book in the “Meg Harris” mystery series.

With her husband under arrest for murder and Meg desperate to prove his innocence, she flies to Yellowknife, where a tangled web of family secrets and greed awaits her.

Meg Harris is forced to leave the sanctuary of Three Deer Point and fly to Yellowknife, where her stepdaughter lies near death and her husband is in jail for killing a man. Expecting to find Eric shouting his innocence, she instead finds him cowed and willing to do hard time. But Meg doesn’t believe he’s guilty.

Convinced that there’s more to the murder victim — and the attack on her stepdaughter — than the police think, Meg finds herself on a sordid trail of family secrets and greed, hoping she can prove her husband’s innocence. Fragments of an ancient embroidery lead her to a remote Dene hunting camp, where all is not what it seems.

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Giveaway: Three lucky readers (U.S. and Canadian entries only, please) selected at random will receive a print copy of Purple Palette for Murder. Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends November 17, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Called “the queen of Canadian wilderness fiction” R.J. Harlick, writes the popular Meg Harris mystery series set in the wilds of West Quebec. Like her heroine Meg Harris, R.J. loves to roam the forests surrounding her own wilderness cabin or paddle the endless lakes and rivers. But unlike Meg, she doesn’t find a body at every twist and turn, although she certainly likes to put them in Meg’s way. While most of the action takes place close to her century old Victorian cottage, occasionally Meg travels to other Canadian wildernesses. In the eighth and latest book, Purple Palette for Murder, Meg travels to Canada’s Far North in a desperate attempt to prove her husband innocent of murder.

Connect with R.J. at www.rjharlick.ca, on Facebook and on Twitter

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Purple Palette for Murder by R.J. Harlick

Purple Palette for Murder by R.J. Harlick is the 8th book in the “Meg Harris” mystery series. Publisher: Dundurn, coming November 7, 2017

With her husband under arrest for murder and Meg desperate to prove his innocence, she flies to Yellowknife, where a tangled web of family secrets and greed awaits her.

Meg Harris is forced to leave the sanctuary of Three Deer Point and fly to Yellowknife, where her stepdaughter lies near death and her husband is in jail for killing a man. Expecting to find Eric shouting his innocence, she instead finds him cowed and willing to do hard time. But Meg doesn’t believe he’s guilty.

Convinced that there’s more to the murder victim — and the attack on her stepdaughter — than the police think, Meg finds herself on a sordid trail of family secrets and greed, hoping she can prove her husband’s innocence. Fragments of an ancient embroidery lead her to a remote Dene hunting camp, where all is not what it seems.

Meg has to leave her self-cocoon to help her husband and what an adventure she finds herself involved in when trying to clear his name. From concerns about her husband and her step-daughter, to stepping into family issues, and to missing embroidery, they all seem connected and the question is how?

I found this drama to be both intriguing and full of suspense as I didn’t know what was going to happen next. The mystery was well-written where greed, cultural betrayal, secrets and the past all play heavily in this tightly woven tale. The twist and turns were done in a manner that enhanced how well this story was being told. The visually descriptive narrative gave me a sense of time and space as the words and dialogue put me in the middle of all the action as I navigated through streams of emotions from Teht’aa to Gloria to Uncle Joe to Eric and to Meg, to name a few. This fast-paced drama held my attention from beginning to end and when it was all said and done, I was not ready to let go of Meg and her journey. A terrific read and I look forward to reading more stories with Meg Harris in this wonderful series.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

A day in the life of Kaylee by Barbara Fradkin

I’m curled up in bed, spooked by the unfamiliar sounds of morning. The tent walls flap in the wind, tiny paws whisper on the snow, and campers snore in the tents near by. In the distant hills, a wolf howls. My fur rises on my back.

It’s still far from sunrise, but the blackness of night is beginning to fade. Soon the trip leaders will be up, shoving more wood into the woodstove and boiling water for coffee. Soon the delicious smells of oatmeal and maple syrup will fill the air. I love the wilderness. In fact I love just about anywhere as long as I have my beloved Amanda, food, and a stick to fetch. But the nights are long, cold, and boring. I’m stuck in the tent with Amanda, with hardly enough room to turn around, and because she’s afraid of fires, she doesn’t light the woodstove in the corner. I snuggle in her sleeping bag, but each time an animal goes by or the wind whips the branches against the tent, I’m on guard. The woods are alive at night.

My job is to keep Amanda safe and happy. She’s never told me that, but the way she hugs me close when she’s scared and laughs when I do something funny, I know I’m important. She named me Kaylee, which means a lively kitchen party, and she brings me everywhere. She even had a custom trailer made for her motorcycle – lime green to match the bike – so I could go with her on her adventures.

Amanda is brave and passionate, but she’s not fearless. I know something terrible happened to her far away in Africa, before I came into her life, and at night the nightmares still come. Once she hugged me so hard that I had to yelp to wake her up. After a few kisses from me, she started to breathe again. I love to keep her safe.

But I also love to run and play and fetch. On this camping trip, some of the students are afraid of dogs, Amanda says because of scary experiences before they came to Canada, but Jean Charles is always happy to throw a stick for me. He seems lonely and laughs when I bring it back for more. I’m easier to play with than the humans in the group.

Humans think too much. They make life complicated. This little group is from all over the world, but they’re the same age and from the same college. They should all get along, but some days have been tough. Dogs get jealous and suspicious too. We also fight about who’s on top and who gets the most food, the best toys, and the most hugs from our master. But we sort it out with a curled lip or a sidelong glance – no words needed – and a few seconds later, it’s all forgotten. Humans never forget. They remember every snarl and secret look. They imagine things that haven’t even happened yet! And they look for ways to win.

Amanda hopes these kids can put all that aside for the joy of the adventure. Part of my job is to help them forget. I’m not so sure, but luckily for me, I don’t think too much. In fact, I hear Jean Charles waking up. Time to play!


You can read more about Kaylee and Amanda in The Trickster’s Lullaby, the second book in the “Amanda Doucette” mystery series.

A winter camping trip turns deadly as two missing teenagers, a twisted love triangle, and the spectre of radicalism create turmoil in the remote Laurentian wilderness.

Amanda Doucette’s cross-Canada charity tour is in for a cold snap when she organizes a winter camping trip for inner-city young people in the stunning setting of the Laurentian Mountains. With a view to bridging cultural divides, she brings along a mixture of Canadian-born and immigrant youth.

Trouble begins when two of the teenagers disappear into the wilderness during the night: Luc, a French/English-Canadian with a history of drug use, and Yasmina, an adventurous young woman from Iraq who dreams of becoming a human rights lawyer. Although frantic, their parents are strangely secretive amid suspicions of drug use and forbidden romance. But when a local farmer turns up dead and terrorist material is found on Luc’s computer, the dangers turn deadly. Now in a battle against both the elements and police, Amanda and Corporal Chris Tymko discover a far greater web of secrets and deception.

As Amanda races to save the young people from danger, she finds herself fighting for stakes far higher than their own lives.

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About the author
Barbara Fradkin is a retired child psychologist with a fascination for why we turn bad. Besides her short stories and easy-read short novels, she is best known for her gritty, psychological Inspector Green series, which has received two Arthur Ellis Best Novel Awards. However, she recently embarked on a new mystery suspense series featuring international aid worker Amanda Doucette, who battles her own traumatic past to help people in trouble. Amanda’s canine sidekick, Kaylee, is based on one of Barbara’s own dogs.

The series debut, Fire in the Stars, was released in 2016, earning starred reviews, and the second, The Trickster’s Lullaby, is hot off the shelves. Barbara lives in Ottawa. Connect with Barbara at barbarafradkin.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Amanda Doucette by Barbara Fradkin

Fire in the StarsIn my life, no two days are alike. Especially not now, when I am actually between lives. For over ten years I have worked as an international aid worker in different parts of Asia and Africa. It suited my restless spirit, my love of adventure, and my compassion for others. I loved the work and the people I met – their food, their culture and music, their humour and courage – but a year ago a terrifying encounter with a band of thugs waving AK47s left my health and sanity in tatters. Back in Canada, my safe haven, I retreated to my aunt’s country cabin to heal my wounds and to figure out whether I would ever have the courage to go back into the line of fire. Increasingly, aid workers are soft targets for every terrorist group trying to be the toughest on the block.

An experience like that forever puts you on the other side of an abyss from ordinary people, so I’ve been feeling pretty rootless, directionless, and alone. My parents live a nice, safe life inside the ivory tower of their university careers, and after ten years as a nomad, I have dozens of friends around the world but none at home. I really have nothing but my lime green motorcycle, which gives me the freedom to roam – and escape – and Kaylee, my exuberant Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, who makes me laugh and keeps me safe.

For a year I’ve worked on a daily rhythm that includes fitness training, biking, therapy, yoga, and mindful meditation. I always delighted in cuisine from all over the world, but I’ve never had much patience for cooking. This past year, I’ve tried to impose some discipline on my diet. I’ve inched towards health, but the cabin days have been long and lonely. As it healed, my spirit grew restless for fun and adventure again, so when my friend and fellow trauma survivor, Phil Cousins, wrote to invite me on a wild Newfoundland adventure of whales, icebergs, and mountain hikes, I bought Kaylee a custom bike trailer, threw some clothes in a bag, and set off.

This first story, FIRE IN THE STARS, opens as I stand on the top deck of the ferry, getting my first glimpse of the rugged Newfoundland coast. I’m excited but worried. I haven’t heard from Phil in days, and I don’t know where to meet him. Newfoundland is a big place, with eleven thousand miles of coastline and millions of mountains and trees. More importantly, his wife tells me that he left home the day before with his young son in tow. The young son had not been in our plans; I love the boy, but this was to be a journey of catharsis and healing, not a family outing. Perhaps even more than me, Phil has been damaged by our ordeal, and I know he can go to some very dark places inside. Not places you would take an eleven year-old boy, if you were thinking at all clearly.

So I feared for Phil, and for his son, as I embarked on my trip across Newfoundland in search of him. The ensuing days were full of twists and harrowing adventures as the mystery of his disappearance deepened. I found out that pain and danger don’t just erupt in faraway lands ravaged by war and poverty, but can bump up against the quiet, almost deserted shores of Canada as well. But I also found the beginnings of a path forward. A path that stays true to my spirit and my dreams, but hopefully keeps me safe. Although no two days are ever likely to be the same.


Fire In The Stars is the first book in the NEW Amanda Doucette mystery series, published by Dundurn Press, September 2016.

A former aid worker returns home haunted by her time in Africa and channels her pain into a murder investigation that’s all too personal.

After surviving a horrific trauma in Nigeria, international aid worker Amanda Doucette returns to Canada to rebuild her life and her shaken ideals. There, the once-passionate, adventurous woman needs all her strength and ingenuity when a friend and fellow survivor goes missing along with his son.

A trained first-aid and crisis responder, Doucette ― always accompanied by her beloved dog Kaylee ― joins forces with RCMP officer Chris Tymko to discover the truth about the disappearance. Their search leads them to the Great Northern Peninsula, a rugged landscape of Viking history, icebergs, whales, and fierce ocean storms. Elsewhere, a body gets hauled up in a fisherman’s net, and evidence is mounting of an unsettling connection with Amanda’s search for her friend. Fradkin writes evocatively of the beautiful, often hostile, Newfoundland landscape where Amanda soon finds herself fighting for her very survival.

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Meet the author
Barbara Fradkin is a retired child psychologist with a fascination for why we turn bad. Besides her short stories and easy-read short novels, she is best known for her gritty, psychological Inspector Green series, which has received two Arthur Ellis Best Novel Awards. She is now embarking on a new mystery suspense series featuring former international aid worker Amanda Doucette, who battles her own traumatic past to help people in trouble. Connect with Barbara at www.barbarafradkin.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Fire in the Stars. US and Canadian entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 29, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!