Barrington Street Blues.


336 pages
ISBN 978-1-55022-813-7
DDC C813'.6






Reviewed by Darleen R. Golke

Darleen R. Golke is a high-school teacher and librarian in Winnipeg.


Monty Collins, criminal lawyer and bluesman, returns in Emery’s third mystery set in early 1990s Halifax. Police suspect murder-suicide in the death of two men found in a strip joint parking lot at “the dark end” of Barrington Street, but Monty questions their conclusions and launches his own investigation. He and a partner represent the families of the dead men in a damage suit against the Baird Addiction Treatment Centre, claiming negligence in releasing the murderer prematurely “knowing he presented a danger to others and to himself.” Monty needs to verify the murder-suicide theory and enlists the assistance of Brennan Burke, priest, choirmaster, and friend. Their investigation leads them to explore the underbelly of Halifax with its drugs, addiction, prostitution, and sleazy characters, some of them “upstanding citizens,” who exploit the homeless and addicted. The murder weapon, a German Luger P-08, ties together disparate persons and events leading Monty to a multitude of possibilities and, ultimately, to the surprising and tragic truth behind the murders.


Professionally Monty excels, but personally he struggles to reunite with his estranged wife. He seems to be making progress until her staggering news propels him on a downward spiral of introspection and self-doubt. In spite of his personal crisis, he successfully focuses on his cases, spends quality time with his children, and continues his musical involvement in Burke’s choir and Functus, his blues band.


Emery crafts a protagonist whose flaws ultimately balance his attributes, an engaging and complex character evolving as the series progresses, yet one who does not escape the darkness that challenges humans. The familiar supporting cast of secondary characters, each with his own demons, combines with new characters to advance the plot and drive the action. Well-paced yet complex, the story moves smoothly with clever twists and turns that add depth and dimension to this mystery. Emery’s ability to detail legal complexities reflects her experience as a lawyer, researcher, and legal affairs reporter, adding veracity to the novel. She evokes a strong sense of place, seamlessly weaving architecture and landmarks of Halifax into the plot and subplots. The best of the series to date, Barrington Street Blues captures and sustains reader interest in this entertaining addition to the genre.


Emery, Anne., “Barrington Street Blues.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,