Reviewed by Jim Napier
In his latest novel, Dead Run, Montreal author Michael Kent further chronicles the exploits of Lieutenant Luc Beaudry, a Montreal homicide detective. No doubt about it, Beaudry is old school, both his mouth and his gun frequently getting him into trouble—and just as frequently, getting him out of it.
Beaudry’s boss, Captain Jean O’Neil, runs interference for him whenever his Lieutenant’s headstrong actions or public pronouncements threaten to derail the detective from his investigations. But it is something of a losing battle, and not even O’Neil can win them all.
The story opens during the waning hours of a routine day in Montreal when Luc Beaudry is summoned to a large wooded area on the hiking and jogging trails of Mont Royal, a major green area overlooking the city of Montreal. The body of a jogger, a young black woman, has been found, and it’s not long before Beaudry concludes that she’s been murdered. The forensics team has arrived, but not yet undertaken its work, so Beaudry leaves the crime scene awaiting the results. It is clear that his boss, normally not given to casual conversations with Beaudry, wants to talk, and soon the pair are deep in discussion over a couple of single malts about O’Neil’s wife Irene. She’s just been diagnosed with breast cancer. But before they can make much headway, O’Neil is interrupted by a call from the forensics technician at the crime scene: the body of another woman has been found further up the mountain. Also a jogger, her body is badly decomposed. It appears that they have uncovered a multiple murderer’s dumping ground.
The next morning Beaudry reviews the case. So far, the evidence is sparse. The one piece of physical evidence he has so far is a driver’s licence taped to one of the young black victim’s socks. The name on the permit is Pavela Diankha, and it lists her residence as an apartment building on Pine Avenue. Beaudry makes his way there, hoping to shed light on the woman and what lead to her death. The doorbell button is under the name Diankha-Venn, but when he presses it he gets no answer. Undaunted, Beaudry seeks out the concierge, who tells him that Diankha worked as a lab researcher and that her boyfriend, Pierre Venn, had been physically abusing her. It had all come to a head one day when Pavela asked the concierge, Mik, to help evict Venn. Pierre Venn at first angrily resisted, but a little physical persuasion applied by Mik had helped him see the error of his ways, and he disappeared in a taxi, his worldly possessions gathered in a few plastic garbage bags.
So begins Luc Beaudry’s quest to unravel the mystery of the young woman murdered in a wilderness in the heart of Montreal. Before it ends, the mystery expands to include other women, and men as well, all caught up in a sordid tale that is sadly very much of our times; it takes all the resources that Beaudry can marshall—including some that are less than official—to solve the nexus of crimes that have destroyed far too many people’s lives.
Dead Run is an energetic, fast-paced portrait of an endangered species: an honest, dedicated cop who relies on street-smarts and personal connections to get things done. Not especially in tune with the times, and definitely not politically correct, Luc Beaudry is nonetheless an engaging figure, a knight-errant who is committed to maintaining justice and to looking out for those who cannot look out for themselves. Beaudry knows that all the book-learning and procedural rules in the world cannot equal common sense and tried-and-true practice when it comes to prevailing over the vermin that prowl the streets, looking for half a chance to make them their own. Think Dirty Harry with a French accent. A cracking good read with a relevant social theme.
Dead Run is published by Mezzo Publications.
Jim Napier is a professional crime-fiction reviewer based in Canada. Since 2005 more than six hundred of his book reviews and author interviews have been featured in several Canadian newspapers and on multiple websites. His crime novel Legacy was published in April of 2017, and the second in the Colin McDermott series, Ridley’s War, was released in November of 2020. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.