The Running Girl


240 pages
ISBN 1-55128-019-1
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by B.J. Busch

B.J. Busch is associate librarian, Access and Information Services,
Cameron Library, University of Alberta.


Writer Jean-Claude Keyes, on his way to a new home in Stratford, worries
that he may have to pay an additional $10,000 for the home he just
purchased. A small matter has been overlooked; his driveway is actually
on a neighbor’s property. Concerned that he might be forced to save
his house at the cost of his principles and self-respect by taking on a
hack writing job, Keyes fails to notice that a blizzard has developed.
When the blustery Ontario snowstorm forces Keyes and an eclectic group
of strangers to wait it out together at the Blue Bayou Motel, someone
ends up murdered.

In this second Jean-Claude Keyes mystery, Amberhill does a masterful
job of depicting the most outrageous characters: a cook who speaks only
in Latin, a white-clad motorcyclist on a white Yamaha drifting eerily
through the snowstorm, workers from a roadkill patrol, and so on. Filled
with irony and delightful comparisons (computers are mean little
sidewinders, Wagner’s opera sounds like tin elephants mating in an
ironworks), the story wends through the twisting reaches of scarred
psyches, tragedies, and regrets. That things are not what they appear to
be, from Keyes’s new home to the morals of a local businessman,
becomes eminently clear. Amberhill has a real talent for creating
appearances that quickly turn out to be misleading, and his artistry
with language keeps the reader entertained and captivated until the end.


Amberhill, Bevan., “The Running Girl,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,