Reviewed by Jim Napier
The most recent in the Sergeant Windflower mystery series, Safe Harbour finds the Métis native and family man no longer heading the Grand Bank detachment of the RCMP, but assigned as public outreach coordinator at the force’s regional headquarters in St. John’s. Newfoundland’s provincial capital, he finds, is very much the village he left, though on a larger scale. Still, it promises to be a very different posting, much more of a desk-and-community-relations job, compared to his previous duties actively directing field investigations.
The position offers him more family time, as well as a chance for his wife Sheila the opportunity to pursue studies at Memorial University. And the well-grounded Windflower is able to draw upon the traditions of his Métis heritage to help situate himself in his new surroundings.
Arriving at the St. John’s detachment of the RCMP, Windflower meets his boss, Staff Sergeant Bonnie Morecombe, director of the outreach program. He also faces a box of training manuals for his new duties: a reminder that he will have to pass a daunting battery of examinations to ensure he’s prepared for his new duties. Paperwork has never been Windflower’s forte.
Meanwhile, on the home front the family learns that their daughter, Amelia Louise, is having problems adjusting to her new daycare. Coupled with the fact that they’d also recently adopted the child of a dead woman, their work is clearly cut out for them.
The family has just begun settling into their new lives when Windflower notices posters going up around town: a fifteen-year-old girl has disappeared from St. John’s. When Windflower encounters another poster for a missing child, this time a girl from Grand Bank, his interest is piqued, not least because the girl is the daughter of a family friend. But the effort to solve these cases will be complicated by the troubled relationship between Windflower and his new boss, Staff Sergeant Morecombe, who is facing her own challenges. All in all, Windflower’s new life is shaping up to be anything but tranquil.
Author Mike Martin is known for his informed portrayals of rural Newfoundland life, and Safe Harbour provides his readers with a different glimpse of another, more urban dimension of the province. But seasoned readers will find there is much that is familiar here, wrapped around a layered tale that is unfortunately all too topical, and which extends far beyond the province’s mostly tranquil shores. Windflower’s latest exploits are sure to delight Martin’s growing fan base.
Safe Harbour is published by Ottawa Press and Publishing.
In addition to being a reviewer with over six hundred reviews to his credit, Jim Napier is the acclaimed author of Legacy and Ridley’s War, in the Colin McDermott mystery series.