Ruby Tuesday: An Eddie Dancer Mystery.


272 pages
ISBN 978-1-55022-792-5
DDC C813'.6





Reviewed by Michael Payne

Michael Payne is head of the reasearch and publications program,
Historic Sites and Archives Service, Alberta Community Development, and
co-author of A Narrative History of Fort Dunvegan.


This is the third novel written by Mike Harrison featuring Eddie Dancer, a private detective operating on the mean streets of Calgary, Okotoks, and southern Alberta. Actually, the streets are not that mean, but Dancer is a plausibly tough and streetwise character and this story is an excellent example of the hard-boiled detective genre in a Canadian setting.


The story is set in motion by a concerned wife who wanders into Dancer’s office looking for help in extricating her husband from a bizarre and potentially life-threatening situation. Paul Miller lost his job with an advertising company and on his way home he tried to stop the assault of a woman at a bank machine. The video camera picks up his intervention but not the subsequent beating he receives from the irate husband. To add to his woes, police charge Miller with assault and his supposed victim threatens a lawsuit. To save himself and his family from ruin, Miller offers to box his assailant in a three-round match in eight weeks’ time—winner to avoid legal issues. As Dancer soon discovers, Miller’s opponent is an experienced street brawler and a very nasty person—no match for a middle-aged ad executive with no ring knowledge. What follows is a Rockyesque story of Miller’s attempts to learn enough about ring survival to avoid being beaten into permanent disability or death, and Dancer’s investigation of his opponent’s criminal dealings and vicious family life.


This plot combination produces a lively and very readable story that touches on important themes of domestic violence and the public’s morbid interest in spectacles that promise pain and humiliation. Dancer does help Miller and his wife, but not really as a conventional detective hero in this case. Instead, the conclusion of the book is neat and unexpected, and it avoids the most obvious underdog triumphs over adversity clichés. Readers will also learn a lot about boxing. It may not be exactly a “sweet science,” but Harrison explains exactly why it requires remarkable courage, athleticism, and coaching to step into a boxing ring, whatever your motivation.


Harrison, Mike., “Ruby Tuesday: An Eddie Dancer Mystery.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,