Reviewed by Wendy Hawkin
Have you ever wanted to move to a sweet slow town as mellow as Mayberry but not that far south? I have. I’ve even scoped a few out. And so did RCMP Constable Quinn Sullivan when he signed on in Resolution, a small town on the coast of British Columbia several hours drive from Prince George. But the problem with small towns is that the romance doesn’t always mirror the reality. And some towns hide monsters.
When I started reading The Watch, the first book in this series, I thought I was reading a police procedural. Tyner Gillies is a real modern-day lawman and his novels open the closed doors of cruisers and stations, cop pubs and dank basements. His terminology is authentic. We meet “members” of the “Queen’s goons.” We feel the “burl of the hot shotgun barrel.” We hold our breath as Quinn “racks the shotgun” and “snicks the final shell”. Laced with gritty raw talk and subtle humour, we glimpse the world of the Mounties from the inside.
So imagine my surprise when a “humanoid shape with two sharp red eyes” appears from “the tumbled folds of rags” in Joe Robowski’s basement and I realize this is no police crime novel. This is something else. Urban fantasy? Horror?
As murders amass, Quinn Sullivan discovers he’s something else: a Guardian, a Warrior. Witch historian Autumn Donnelly presents him with homemade books that reveal the presence of demons in places of true and tragic evil—places like residential schools and witch trials—places like Joe Robowski’s basement. Gillies says on his website that The Watch was inspired by a personal experience:
I had about 3 months of service in the Force, when I was called to check an abandoned house for squatters in a distant corner of my policing district. I went out there, by myself, thinking nothing of it, as it was a type of call I’d responded to a dozen times before. I found the house, and went in with my flashlight to make sure no one was inside. It was a musty shambles, filled with garbage and broken furniture, as well as something I didn’t expect, and had never felt before or since.
I felt a presence, something dark and heavy, and whatever it was made it clear that I was not welcome. I found no sign of anyone squatting there, and could understand why, if they had felt the same thing I did. I got out of that house as quickly as I could, and thought about it for days afterward.
Gillies draws and holds his suspense scenes like a bow. The details of a three-minute fight keep me riveted for pages as Quinn and his Mountie partners track and fight the demon.
Quinn heaved against the reeking bulk but he was tiring quickly from blood loss and did not have the strength to shove the thing off. Slowly, the clawing fingers tightened at his throat and cut off his air. He thrashed and gouged, blinking wildly against the white flashes in his vision, and his adversary screeched in triumph as Quinn’s eyes fluttered closed.
There is a warm sticky sweetness that’s not blood running through this story. It’s love, and it’s the glue that holds this book and its dysfunctional family together. Newfie Dave McLeod with his dry humour and Corporal Charles Raife (who conjures images of Canadian actor Gary Farmer in my mind) are the guardian’s sidekicks and back each other to the death. Is this real Mountie camaraderie?
But what defines Quinn Sullivan is his sensitive side. He’s a lover. And when he returns home after three days of battle his first thought is: did anybody feed my cat?
Quinn Sullivan’s story continues in Book Two, Dark Resolution, when he is promoted to Corporal and sent to Cranbrook to discover why Inspector Green’s RCMP son carved symbols on his body and hung himself. Meanwhile, back in Resolution, Raife, Dave McLeod, Autumn Donnelly and Quinn’s girlfriend Carrie, are left to fight a demon with a taste for humans. Demons, it seems, form packs, alliances, and plans. “Old ghosts and broken hopes,” says Autumn. In these places demons hide. And this time the demon is after a child.
The child moved several steps closer to her father, her hands clasping a round medallion that hung from a leather cord around her neck. “I thought you said it would be safe here.” She looked up, tendrils of hair drifting across her face in a breeze that cut across the narrow campsite. “I thought you said we wouldn’t have to run anymore.”
Abby and her father have come to Resolution to find the Guardian. But, he’s not there. Will Quinn Sullivan return in time to save her from the demon?
The Watch and Dark Resolution are published by Dark Dragon Publishing.
Wendy Hawkin writes urban fantasy with a twist of murder. To Charm a Killer and To Sleep with Stones are the first two books in her Hollystone Mysteries series with Blue Haven Press.