Monday, 15 May 2017

The Police Procedural and Its Cast of Characters

The March and Walker Crime Novel series, which currently includes Hammett Prize nominee SORROW LAKE and its recently-published sequel BURN COUNTRY, falls into the "police procedural" category.  To enhance the experience of readers as they explore the series, it might help to consider the basic characteristics of police procedurals in general with particular emphasis on their cast of characters.

As crime fiction scholar Kerstin Bergman explains in an essay on Swedish procedurals,
To be a police procedural, a novel must have a set of police characters and--preferably detailed--descriptions of their work as they investigate one or more crimes.... Police procedurals generally display a police 'team of individuals, separated by age, experience, gender, race and ethnicity, [who] work collectively to restore and maintain social order.' *
Unlike other types of mystery such as the private detective novel or the cozy mystery, which tend to feature a single protagonist solving the crime with the help of one or two assistants, procedurals reflect the reality of actual police investigation in which a team of professionals, including homicide detectives, supervisory and management personnel, forensic specialists, and forensic pathologists or coroners come together to play their respective roles in the investigation of the case.  In order to maintain a level of verisimilitude that readers of procedurals demand, the author must depict these various team members to some degree or other as the case unfolds.

As The Guide to United States Popular Culture further tells us,
The method for solving crimes also helps define the police procedural. The investigative process involves a set of established professional procedures for collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, examining crime scenes, and conducting forensic inquiries.... The group dynamics are often highlighted, re-creating in fiction the friendships and hostilities that exist among any group of people that work together.**
With these critical explanations of the sub-genre in mind, readers may better understand that they will encounter a roster of characters in the March and Walker series, rather than two protagonists working in relative isolation to close the case in super-hero fashion, and that the respective roles and various relationships of the characters will be clearly explained in the story. 

As an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer stated about BURN COUNTRY, "Kevin Walker and Ellie March each go their own way in this case, as part of a larger investigative team. The interplay between the various characters feels genuine, with dialogue and exchanges that give us a good sense of each of them as well as their relationships with each other."

So whether it's Swedish police procedurals, American Ed McBain and his 87th Precinct, or the March and Walker Crime Novel series, readers who favour this sub-genre of mystery stories understand that a realistic cast of characters is all part of the police procedural experience.

---------------------------
*Kerstin Bergman, "The Well-Adjusted Cops of the New Millennium: Neo-Romantic Tendencies in the Swedish Police Procedural," Scandinavian Crime Fiction, Andrew Nestingen and Paula Arvas, eds. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2011, pp. 34-45.
**"Police Procedural." The Guide to United States Popular Culture, Ray B. Browne and Pat Browne, eds. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2001, pp. 617-18.


Monday, 1 May 2017

It's Goodreads Mystery Week!


In case you haven't already heard, let me be the first to tell you that this week, May 1 - May 7, 2017, is Mystery & Thriller Week on Goodreads!

Goodreads was launched in December 2006 as a literary social network platform. If you're not familiar with the site and you're wondering what the big deal is, here are just a few numbers to tickle your fancy. Goodreads now has 55 million members, it has 1.5 billion books added to its lists, and it carries more than 50 million book reviews. Staggering numbers!

Wondering what Goodreads can do for you, book reader? Their "About" page suggests:


A Few Things You Can Do On Goodreads

  • See which books your friends are reading.
  • Track the books you're reading, have read, and want to read.
  • Check out your personalized book recommendations. Our recommendation engine analyzes 20 billion data points to give suggestions tailored to your literary tastes.
  • Find out if a book is a good fit for you from our community's reviews.

In the spirit of Mystery & Thriller Week, I'm currently running a Goodreads giveaway promo for BURN COUNTRY, the second March and Walker Crime Novel. For a chance to win one of five autographed paperback copies, bang on this link and get yourself entered in the draw:
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/233295-burn-country

Good luck, and Goodreads!





Monday, 24 April 2017

Early Reviews of BURN COUNTRY

Early reviews of BURN COUNTRY, the second March and Walker Crime Novel, are now beginning to appear, and they're very reassuring.

A "Vine Voice" reviewer posted on Amazon: "Kevin Walker and Ellie March each go their own way in this case, as part of a larger investigative team. The interplay between the various characters feels genuine, with dialogue and exchanges that give us a good sense of each of them as well as their relationships with each other. Michael McCann's immense research shows in the realism of the police work."

A reader in Florida posted on Amazon as well that "After reading this book, I am going to go back and find the first book in this series [SORROW LAKE], as I found the characters and story refreshing, true-to-life and interesting."

Read both of these five-star reviews here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XQPLB45/

As well, a reviewer posted on Kobo: "Another thoroughly enjoyable police procedural mystery by Michael McCann. What can I say? I'm completely hooked with these books."

Read the complete review here: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/burn-country

More reviews will be coming soon, including those that will be part of an upcoming blog tour in June. A reminder: if you read BURN COUNTRY and enjoy it, please feel free to post a review on one of these sites or on Goodreads, LibraryThing, or any other such site. It's greatly appreciated!



Monday, 10 April 2017

Inner Ghosts

This week our sister blog, Behind The Walls of Nightmare, is featuring a Kickstarter campaign for the upcoming feature film INNER GHOSTS.

Selected to the Work in Progress section of the 2016 Frontières Co-Production Market at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, this film is written by Paulo Leite and directed by João Alves. It stars Celia Williams, Elizabeth Bochmann, and Norman MacCallum. 

To find out more, check out Behind the Walls of Nightmare!

Monday, 3 April 2017

A Little Change of Pace

Yesterday I took a little break from routine and drove in to Ottawa for the semi-annual Community Record Show at St. Anthony's Hall. As those of you know who follow this blog, I love attending this show and always come home with a pile of vinyl to add to my collection.

Last October I missed the show, so I was especially looking forward to the spring version. Here's a small sample of my purchases:


One objective is to fill holes in my collection, and another is to take a chance on stuff I've never heard of before. We have a little of both here.

The Nighthawks are a Washington, DC-based blues-rock band especially known for their live performances, which is what this album captures. Although you can't see it in the pic, the album cover is autographed by the band members and dated "Ottawa 82." $2.50. How could I resist?

"Home" was Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett's first album, their only one with Stax, the legendary groove label ($2.50). Canadian guitarist Domenic Troiano was the guy whose band backfilled for Ronny Hawkins when Levon Helm and the rest set off to seek their fortune as The Band ($2.50). "The Three" is an interesting soul/jazz recording featuring Joe Sample (the Crusaders), Ray Brown and Shelly Manne. This is the NY Inner City Records release of the Japanese recording ($5.00). "Oblique," issued in 1985, has been described as one of the best recordings to come out of the Netherlands. They were a latter-day progressive rock band led by Gerard Stokkink and Tommy Backmann ($5.00). New to me.

A great way to relax and have an afternoon's fun for not a lot of money!

Monday, 27 March 2017

BURN COUNTRY - Another Milestone Reached!

It's always exciting to review the proof copy of a new novel from the printer, and this time was no exception, particularly given how long I've waited for it!

As you can see, the paperback version of BURN COUNTRY, the second March and Walker Crime Novel, is now a reality.

Don't forget, if you want a review copy, check out our previous post to find out how to obtain one.

I can't wait to get out on the road to start selling BURN COUNTRY. I think you're going to like it.

Monday, 20 March 2017

BURN COUNTRY is Now Available for Review!

BURN COUNTRY, the much-anticipated sequel to the 2015 Hammett Prize finalist SORROW LAKE, is now available for review.

The Plaid Raccoon Press is pleased to make review copies available in paperback or eBook format (mobi for Kindle, ePub, or PDF).

If you are a journalist who reviews books for print or electronic media, an online book blogger who reviews crime fiction, or a fellow published author interested in providing a testimonial, please contact us at the e-mail address below to obtain a print or eBook review copy.

If you post reviews to Amazon, contact us and we will arrange to send you a courtesy review copy for your Kindle device.

If you post reviews to Goodreads, send us an e-mail and let us know which eBook format you'd like!

Contact us at theplaidraccoonpress@mjmccann.com and let us know you're interested!

Read the back cover blurb here: http://michaeljmccannsblog.blogspot.ca/2017/02/burn-country-whats-story.html

Monday, 13 March 2017

BURN COUNTRY - Why Has It Taken So Long?

If you've read SORROW LAKE, the first March and Walker Crime Novel, you probably noticed the back-page ad stating that BURN COUNTRY, the second story in the series, would be coming out in the spring.

Spring last year, that is. Now that BURN COUNTRY is in full production mode and will be published this spring, you may wonder what caused the delay.

In fact, the title was ready to be produced last June. However, not long after the announcement that SORROW LAKE would be a finalist for the Hammett Prize for best crime novel, I was contacted by the acquiring editor of a major New York publisher who inquired about the US rights for SORROW LAKE and the North American rights for BURN COUNTRY.  I won't say which publisher, but let's just say this acquiring editor is extremely well known for her work in the US with Scandinavian noir in translation and that Amanda Hocking, the very successful paranormal romance author I studied closely when deciding to become an independent several years ago, had blazed a glorious trail to this particular publisher back then. I was very excited.

They held onto the manuscript of BURN COUNTRY through the rest of 2016. Once the winner of the Hammett Prize was announced at the end of October and Lisa Sandlin had gone home with the statue, I thought my chances had dimmed significantly, but still no word. Finally, I queried in December but received no response. A month ago, in February, I queried again and was told the publisher was not adding any new authors to their list at this time. I said thanks, and the next day obtained an ISBN for BURN COUNTRY to start the production process.

Essentially the publisher took out an option on the story while the Hammett Prize process unfolded, and afterward lost interest. I completely get it. While writing is a joy and a passion for me, publishing is a business. Understood. I wish I was a better businessman, I guess.

At any rate, explanation completed. Those of you who have waited patiently for more than a year to find out what happens next with Ellie March and Kevin Walker, I thank you very, very much. I hope you'll like what happens next!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Rural Policing in Ontario

Photo (c) Michael J. McCann
How does a large-scale police bureaucracy deliver effective service in a thinly-populated rural area?

BURN COUNTRY, the second March and Walker crime novel, continues to follow detectives of the Ontario Provincial Police featured in SORROW LAKE as they investigate homicides occurring in rural/small town settings.

Ontario is the most populated province in Canada, and it includes this nation's largest city, Toronto, and fourth largest city, Ottawa--our nation's capital.  This province is also the fourth largest in terms of area in square kilometres. While the larger municipalities in Ontario have their own police service, of course, the OPP's jurisdiction outside these metropolitan areas covers over one million square kilometres and well over two million people. As a result, the OPP is one of the largest police services in North America, with more than 6,200 uniformed officers.

As Kevin Walker reflects as he rushes out to the crime scene at the beginning of BURN COUNTRY,  the OPP Leeds County Crime Unit is responsible for investigating criminal offenses in "a rural jurisdiction covering 2,100 square kilometres with only 35,000 inhabitants scattered along county roads and back lanes that hooked and bent around countless lakes, swamps, and rivers. "

One of the questions explored in this series, then, is how such a large police bureaucracy with such an extensive mandate can still deliver effective service to a thinly-populated rural area like Leeds County.

Detective Inspector Ellie March, born and raised in Toronto, is a resource assigned out of OPP General Headquarters to lead the investigation of major cases in East Region, including homicides. Detective Constable Kevin Walker, on the other hand, was born and raised in Leeds County and comes to the crime unit from a defunct local village police service. Together, they represent the meeting point between a large, bureaucratic force and its individual boots-on-the-ground.

Readers who enjoyed Henning Mankell's portrayal of rural policing in Sweden in Faceless Killers, for example, his first Kurt Wallander novel, will want to see how it's done in Canada. BURN COUNTRY will be available for review in two weeks.

Monday, 27 February 2017

BURN COUNTRY - What's The Story?

As I've mentioned in past posts, one of the things I enjoy watching people do at craft shows and art festivals is walk up to my table, pick up a copy of one of my books and turn it over to read the back cover blurb.

Is there any better way to get a quick sense of what the book is about, and whether or not you might be interested in reading it?

With that in mind, I'm happy to present the back cover of BURN COUNTRY, the much-anticipated sequel to 2015 Hammett Prize finalist Sorrow Lake. Enjoy!




Monday, 20 February 2017

BURN COUNTY Is On Its Way!

BURN COUNTRY, the long-awaited sequel to Hammett Prize finalist SORROW LAKE, is finally on its way.

The Plaid Raccoon Press is pleased to announce that the second March and Walker Crime Novel is now entering its final production stages.

Review copies of the new novel will be available in print and eBook format before the end of March.

Stay tuned for further details over the coming days and weeks!