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On the lighter side

Reviews

Deverell’s latest Arthur Beauchamp novel, Snow Job, manages to combine a devilish plot, the usual cast of BC’s Garibaldi Island’s outlandish local characters, biting political satire, espionage and some attention to the environment and ecological imperialism. Beauchamp has semi-retired from his law practice and is dividing his time between his goat farm on Garibaldi Island and Ottawa, where his partner Margaret Blake serves as the lone federally elected member of the Green Party. When officials from the tiny central Asian nation of Bashyistan are killed in a bombing in Ottawa, their leader, dictator Ivor Muckhali Ivanovich, declares war on Canada. In trying to track down the man suspected in the bombing, Beauchamp finds himself in Albania doling out huge sums of money in bribes and risking his life. Great fun.

Many CD readers will know the Haymarket story, if only because it gave us Mayday: the struggle for the eight hour day, the bomb thrown during a workers’ meeting, the farce of a trial against eight anarchists, the execution of four and the suicide of a fifth. This novel covers all this by recreating the lives of Albert and Lucy Parsons and their world. It takes us into the anarchist movement and its internal debates on politics, sex and race. Duberman, a scholar by profession, is probably a better historian than he is a novelist, but through a mixture of straight narration and fictional documents like diaries and personal letters he manages to transmit a huge amount of information while maintaining the pace of the book.

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