In the middle of the day on a busy street in Toronto, a
guy gets shot in the head.
That’s where Dirty Sweet begins.
From there to where it ends, it’s a story full of twists and turns, a thriller
that follows everyone connected to the crime that opens the book, and although
you can see some things coming, there were a number of twists along the way that
kept me wondering how things would pan out, right to the end.
Dirty Sweet follows a large cast of characters, but author John McFetridge weaves
the story together well. One thing I had a sense of reading it was who each character
was, what they were about. That said, the book wasn’t predictable. Because
Dirty Sweet followed the cops as well as those in organized crime and wannabe
criminals, I had the sense at the end that McFetridge had circled around the
crime from all sides. You saw the relatively innocent lives affected by what
happened in the story, you saw the people taking any opportunity to get ahead,
no matter who got hurt, and you saw the people who’d been in crime so long,
it was just business.
I found it refreshing to read a book that made Toronto the not-so-good a real
character in the story. In fact, despite the few points in the story where characters
reflect on Montreal or Calgary, Toronto is the cohesive thread. As a Muskokan
who never cared much for Toronto when I lived in Ontario, Dirty Sweet made me
almost nostalgic for a trip east.
If I had one complaint about the book, it would be that I didn’t see enough
of Loewen, but I feel that’s actually a compliment to the author for creating
a rich, divergent cast of characters and whetting my appetite for more.
The writing is lean, the story moves quickly and McFetridge is already one hell
of a storyteller, and he’s a Canadian author to watch for. I feel Dirty
Sweet marks a turning point for me, in my journey to discover gritty Canadian-based
crime fiction novels, and I hope that there are many more authors like McFetridge
to come, ones that portray the nice and not-so-nice aspects of our country while
talking about the real crimes happening here.
I’m actually glad we had a delay with this issue so I could include my
thoughts on this solid debut.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Sandra Ruttan has just signed a deal for the release of her first
novel, Suspicious Circumstances, in early 2007. A regular contributor
to Spinetingler Magazine, her work can also be found in the July/August
issue of Crimespree Magazine.
For more information about Sandra visit her website
or her blog.
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