The Truth About the Night.


346 pages
ISBN 978-0-00-200601-4
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Trevor S. Raymond

Trevor S. Raymond is a teacher and librarian with the Peel Board of Education and editor of Canadian Holmes.


Although a sadistic killing and a mysterious woman stupefied into silence turn up in the opening pages of this latest work by an internationally acclaimed Canadian screenwriter and novelist, the book is more than a murder mystery. Psychopathic killers hunt for the woman, but the novel is not just a thriller, either. It defies genre categorization.


The narrator, writing in the present tense, is a Canadian living illegally in California with a false identity, having wandered at length through the U.S. after running from a serious criminal charge in Ontario. There is much backstory about his childhood in a dysfunctional family and the apparently unjust incarceration and subsequent horrific abuse of his older brother in an institution for the criminally insane in Penetang, Ontario. Painfully haunted by his past and agonizing about why injustice and heartlessness exist, the narrator has come to a place where he is “touching the face of God, peering into eternity on a nightly basis.” He is “a night assistant” at the Mt. Palomar observatory in southern California. Here, he watches the fiery annihilation and creation of stars and concludes, “Out there in the unimaginable light-years of the cosmos, violence is what gives new life. It is necessary.” By the novel’s end, he has found his true home and a new life, but only by surviving some harrowing and bloody violence himself.


The story unfolds in the present in Mexico and California and in the past in Ontario and Cuba, with digressions about the cosmos and quantum physics, but the novel is primarily about coming to terms with what has been. The narrator and the mysterious woman are both hunted and haunted because of decisions they made in the unchangeable past, but like the astronomers with their giant telescopes, they—and we—can only “look back in time. To what once was and is no more.”


Burke, Martyn., “The Truth About the Night.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 23, 2024,