Trumpets Sound No More
Review: In 2002, Toronto author and college instructor, Jon Redfern, won the prestigious Crime Writer's of Canada Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel for his debut effort, The Boy Must Die. As an encore he has won the CWC Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel for 2008 for his meticulously-researched Victorian age murder mystery, Trumpets Sound No More, starring Detective Inspector Owen Endersby, a member of the newly-formed London Metropolitan Detective Police Force. Endersby, as Redfern's readers will soon discover, has all of the charisma, skills and sleuthing smarts to become a long time center stage performer should Redfern decide to keep him around.
Besides his intuitions and intelligence, Endersby has other characteristics for a successful police force career. In the Victorian England of the shabby streets, dingy taverns and dark alleyways he frequents, he knows how to ferret out the characters most likely to have bashed theatre manager Samuel Cakes head to a pulp with his own cane. He knows how to find them by using guile and disguises, by tricking them into giving up information and, if necessary, to use an occasional cuff to the ear to jog a recalcitrant recollection. He knows his way around London too, including the theatre district and particularly backstage and downstairs at the Old Drury, the grande dame of London's theatres in the 1840s. Despite being given a case of arson to resolve as well as a one week deadline, December 18 to 25, for solving Cake's murder, and having to deal with his overbearing Superintendent, fifty-year-old Endersby knows how to get the job done without any of today's forensic assists – just patience, critical analysis, a liking "to ponder the scene," his "passions for truth and justice," a willingness to walk miles to find a clue or harangue a suspect, and all the while suffering "the grime of his livelihood on his clothes." And as he searches the theatre district and beyond for a murderer and an arsonist, he finds killers can travel in packs, lunatics can fan more than just fires, actors can play multiple parts, on and off stage, and with or without alcohol and drugs, theatre managers can be as motivated by power and sex as by money, and a stage-struck fourteen-year-old homeless waif and her dreams can both go up in flames while Queen Victoria and her Christmas pageant entourage watch in horror.
Tough on the crimes and criminals of his time and constantly tussling with his Superintendent, Endersby has a softer side too. He's obviously devoted to his forty-year-old wife Harriet, fancies the candied chestnuts she prepares for him, pieces together elaborate wooden puzzles of French design, and he suffers from gout in his left foot, the intensity of which measures the success or failure of his fact-finding – all attributes for the memorable detective Redfern has created. The settings for the Old Drury and the contemporary theatre offerings are memorable too, and the dialogue and language of the compelling story are ideally suited to the age. And while the trumpets in this novel may sound no more, it would be a shame if they also signalled a swan song for Detective Inspector Owen Endersby.
Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham (email@example.com) for contributing his review of Trumpets Sound No More.
Review Copyright © 2008 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved
Reprinted with Permission
Location(s) referenced in Trumpets Sound No More: London, England
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Trumpets Sound No More by Jon Redfern
Publisher: Rendezvous Crime
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 2007
List Price: $19.95