Tapas on the Ramblas

~by Anthony Bidulka
2005 Saskatchewan Book Award Nominee

Way back in high school I once read a few mystery novels for one of my English classes. I enjoyed them well enough, but haven't really read many since. Tapas on the Ramblas is not a book I probably would have picked up to read were it not for my book club. For one reason, it is the third book in the Russel Quant Mysteries and I usually try to start with the first novel in a series. However, I found it quite delightful even without reading the two books that come before it.

Russell Quant is a private investigator located in the prairie city of Saskatoon (in the middle of the Saskatchewan province, for those unfamiliar with Canada). It's shaping up to be a rather nondescript fall when a young women enters his office on the behalf of her grandmother, Charity Wiser. A wealthy octogenarian, Charity is convinced that someone in her family is determined to kill her and wants Russell to find out who. Far from the types of cases he normally works, Russell takes the job, and the free Mediterranean Cruise Charity has arranged to get her family all in one place. But why hire Russell when she could hire virtually any private detective she wants? Because he's gay, of course.

Russell has his work cut out for him. It seems that everyone in the family has a good reason to need the inheritance money, but who is desperate enough to commit murder? Filled with colorful character and locations, twists and turns galore, and narrated by our audacious hero, the story was a quick and fun to read. Although there were references to the previous books and characters, they aren't essential to appreciate the story (although it would probably be nice.) There were a few loose ends left, as well, probably to be taken up by the novels that come afterwards. Overall, quite an enjoyable light read.