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Armin Wiebe
Winnipeg, Turnstone Press, 1991. 279pp, paper, $12.95
ISBN 0-88801-158-X. (Schneppa Kjnals Mystery). CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Margaret Mackey.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

This mystery is set in a close-knit Mennonite village in Manitoba. Schneppa Kjnals is Neil Bergen, who calls himself a private eye on the strength of a mail-order detection course. Most of the time there is little to detect in his village, beyond a cow or two on the ram­page. When genuinely mysterious goings-on begin to surface, however, the whole culture of the village serves in the cause of obfuscation. Most charac­ters have several nicknames and are obscurely related to each other. A straightforward account of village life would probably be confusing to the average reader without the appropriate background knowledge, and when the characters are all trying to deceive each other, the reader is very hard pressed to keep track.

Neil Bergen is the narrator as well as the detective, and his inability to detect even his own motivation most of the time gives this narrative its main appeal. But events and people crowd the pages and challenge even strong readers to make a coherent pattern. A list of characters, with all their many aliases, would have been a good idea.

Margaret Mackey, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta.
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