A Deadly Little List
The body of Joe Bertolucci, security guard for a wealthy and controversial land-developer, is found in a deserted cabin on Salt Spring Island. A note and evidence found at the crime scene suggest suicide, but to Constable Danutia Dranchuk things just don’t add up. As Dranchuk struggles to convince her RCMP Sergeant to keep the case open, she begins an investigation that will lead her deep into the corruption in the community.
Salt Spring Island: Saturday, July 8
Constable Danutia Dranchuk sat scrunched in the RCMP float plane, her face pressed to the window and her eyes squeezed shut, silently repeating the Lord’s Prayer. She hated being strapped into this cramped space, suspended in nothingness. Milky blue air around her, grey-blue water below. A Prairie girl, she liked her feet on solid ground. Amen.
Breathe, she told herself. You can handle it. The boss’s call has thrown you off balance, that’s all. Sergeant Lewis hadn’t exactly welcomed her to General Investigations in Victoria. The youngest member in Major Crimes and the only woman, she’d spent two months doing joe jobs for senior officers. “Learning the ropes,” Sergeant Lewis called it, and there was plenty to learn. The RCMP provided police services for all of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands except Victoria, with local detachments handling routine matters and calling on General Investigations for more serious cases. Relieved to get away from Winnipeg, she had thrown herself into plainclothes work. But after two months, as she joked to her sister Alyne, “learning the ropes” felt more like being tied up in knots, unable to move an inch without Lewis’s say-so.
Then this morning, on her first Saturday off, the chance she’d been waiting for had finally come.
“I have a case for you,” Sergeant Lewis had said. “A body’s been discovered in a deserted cabin on Salt Spring, on property that’s just been bought by David Ohara. You know who he is, don’t you? Pacific Developments. Owns half of Victoria and the Gulf Islands. Apparently the dead man was working for him. Len Berwick—he’s head of the local detachment, a good man—says it’s suicide.”
“Then why are you sending me?”
The muted tap-tap of Lewis’s pencil warned Danutia to brace herself. “Problem is, the attending doctor insists the man’s been murdered. Threatens to go to the media if we don’t investigate.” He paused, and the tapping died away. “Ohara doesn’t want any bad publicity.”
So that was it. Don’t think for yourself, simply rubber-stamp the suicide verdict and sweet talk the doctor into going along. “I hear you.”
“Fine, then.” Lewis’s manner became friendlier. “Sharma will take care of the technical stuff. He’ll meet you at the Inner Harbour in half an hour. There’s a float plane leaving for a drug recon.”
“Shouldn’t we take the Ident van?”
“You’d be all day, and I need Sharma back.”
What about me? she wanted to ask, but the line went dead.
And now, like the throbbing of her own pulse, the plane’s engines hummed, “no trust, no trust.”
"A Deadly Little List is pure Gilbert and Sullivan.... Chris and Kay take us backstage in this delicately crafted novel and show us the dirt — all the dirt." ~ James Hawkins, author of Crazy Lady
"Ardent Savoyards may take a smug pleasure in noting how ingeniously rehearsals for a doomed production of The Mikado figure in the plot." ~ Jim Ellis, founding member of the New England Gilbert and Sullivan Society
"Stewart and Bullock have put the mad in prima donna, the rat in operatic, and the cad in The Mikado." ~ Dave Carpenter, author of Luck