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Eric Wright.

Toronto, Collins, c1983.
(The Crime Club).
181pp, cloth, $15.95.
ISBN 0-00-222634-0.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by Adèle Ashby.

Volume 11 Number 4.
1983 July.

For the first time in its history, Collins' Crime Club, publisher of Agatha Christie and Nagio Marsh, has put out a novel by a Canadian author, set in, of all places, Toronto. It introduces Inspector Charlie Salter, who has been given a lateral transfer after having backed the wrong horse in a race for the position of Deputy Chief of the Metro Toronto Police. Charlie's typical day includes making arrangements for tidying up Yonge Street (someone has to pick up the garbage!), inspecting gun shops to ensure they are not selling machine guns to minors, and investigating complaints about the police cafeteria, until a routine inquiry from Sergeant Henri O'Brien of the Montreal Police lands him in the middle of a temptingly tortuous murder investigation. Professor David Summer of Toronto had gone to an English conference in Montreal with several of his colleagues and was later found dead in his hotel room. The only clues are a lipstick-marked glass and a whiskey bottle that was used to crush his skull. With the help of "Onree," Charlie tries to put together a coherent picture of Summer's last day and in the process begins to see parallels between his own life and that of the victim.

The Night the Gods Smiled succeeds because it is all so believable. It combines a wonderful feel for the city, very human and engaging characterization, and great storytelling. Wright, who teaches English at Ryerson (thinly disguised as Douglas College in the book) has a fine sense of the little ironies of life, and his depiction of the world of academe is far from rarified. This reviewer is looking forward to reading the further adventures of Inspector Salter.

Adèle Ashby, Toronto, ON.
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