Rapid Reads

  • It's Father's Day weekend—a tough time for Charlie D, host of a late-night radio call-in show that offers supportive advice to troubled listeners. For years Charlie has been alienated from his father—a retired politician who was always too busy for his son when Charlie was growing up. The trouble is, his dad has chosen this weekend to attempt to reconcile with his son. Charlie is not keen to forgive. But Charlie's personal issues suddenly seem mundane when an email arrives from a young listener that outlines his very specific plans to kill not just his father but his entire family. The deeply troubled boy could be anywhere, and Charlie has just two hours to discover his identity and stop him from murder.

  • Nicole Patterson is a young, green and very eager probationary constable with the Ontario Provincial Police. Although she spends much of her time breaking up bar fights, giving out traffic tickets and finding lost kids, she dreams of one day becoming a detective.
    Late one bitterly cold winter night, she comes across the body of a young woman lying on the edge of a snow-covered field on the outskirts of town. The girl appears to have been strangled. Nicole recognizes the victim as a local high school student with a somewhat sullied reputation, the daughter of the town drunk. Though both under-qualified and unauthorized, Nicole feels compelled to throw herself into the murder investigation.
    Was the murdered girl really as promiscuous as her classmates described or the victim of bullying? What was her relationship with the star of the football team? And what is the significance of the ring with the large blue stone found near her body?
    Is Nicole Patterson herself heading for trouble by pretending to be a detective?

  • Rosario Gomez gave up gang life after his brother was killed in a street fight. Now all he wants to do is finish night school, be a good father and work hard enough at his job at the supermarket to get promoted. But when an old friend shows up to ask him why he left the gang, Rosario realizes he was fooling himself if he thought his violent past would just go away. When his pregnant girlfriend is hit in a drive-by shooting, Rosario has to make some hard choices. Revenge means a return to his old ways, something he swore he would never do. But unless he takes action, his enemies will not rest until they've settled the score against him.

  • Cree Thunderboy wants nothing less than to be the next great blues man. But, playing to tiny audiences in shabby rooms like Shelly's Crab Shack, his career is stalled. Then at the race track he meets Win Hardy, a seemingly charming rogue who spots Cree's knack for picking winning horses. He offers to record his first CD and send him on tour, as long as Cree can keep coming up with the hot tips at the track.
    Things are looking good for Cree until he discovers Win's connections to the mob and his violent response to anything that doesn't go his way. And when things inevitably go bad, Cree discovers that in life and in gambling there is never really the next sure thing.

  • December 20, 1943. Two Canadian infantry battalions and a tank regiment stand poised on the outskirts of a small Italian port town. They expect to take Ortona quickly. But the German 1st Parachute Division has other ideas. For reasons unknown, Hitler has ordered Ortona held to the last man. Houses, churches and other buildings are dynamited, clogging the streets with rubble. Germans with machine guns lie in ambush. Snipers slip from one rooftop to another. The Canadians seem to have walked into a death trap. This is a battle fought at close range, often hand to hand. Casualties on both sides are heavy. In the end, raw courage and ingenuity save the Canadians.
    Ortona Street Fight is a riveting telling of what is considered one of the most epic battles that Canadian soldiers have ever fought.

  • For his Valentine's night call-in show, host Charlie D plans to offer his listeners two hours on the topic of "satisfaction." His in-studio guest is twenty-five-year-old Misty de Vol Burgh, formerly the highest-paid escort in the city but now happily married to eighty-three-year-old billionaire Henry Burgh.
    It's all good fun until Charlie receives a chilling message: "It's take-out-the-garbage night. Time to kill all the hookers and wash the streets with blood." When Charlie is directed to a website that allows viewers to watch the murder of a prostitute in real time and promises that another killing will be broadcast live within the hour, the hunt is on. But The World According to Charlie D. has an audience of over a million listeners. The murderer could be anyone, anywhere. Charlie and his team have less than two hours to find and stop the killer.

  • Nicole Charles didn't go to journalism school to become a gossip columnist, but the job fell into her lap right out of school and her immigrant work ethic just won't let her quit to find something she'd like better. It's a good job, but she struggles with the stigma attached to her position by other reporters. More than anything, she wants to be a real reporter, but it looks like she's never going to get a chance.
    Then one night while covering a gallery opening, she discovers a dead body in a dark alley. An upand- coming artist has been stabbed in the throat with an antique icepick. Nicole is right in the middle of the biggest story of the year. It's the chance of a lifetime. Too bad someone had to die to make it happen.
    If It Bleeds is the first novel in a series of mysteries featuring rookie reporter Nicole Charles.

  • Mother Anqelique runs a shelter for homeless mothers and their children in a run-down inner-city area, where drug addiction, prostitution and random acts of violence are facts of life. One day, newly orphaned Jamal and his sister Chantay arrive at the shelter, hungry and scared. As Angelique tries to find a new home for them, she develops a fascination with seven-year-old Jamal, who seems to inhabit a world of his own. Jamal tells her fantastic stories of a man named Jacky Wacky, who protects the poor children of the city and punishes the adults who harm them. A God-fearing woman, Angelique doesn't believe his stories at first. But strange things begin to happen whenever Jamal is around, and Mother Angelique is forced to admit that the world may contain stranger truths than her faith can explain.

  • Twenty-four-year-old Stephanie manages a clothing store and lives with her mother in the townhouse where she grew up. Her life isn't in a rut exactly, but it's not headed where she'd like it to be. At her mother's suggestion, she joins a community choir. Soon she's singing rock songs in four-part harmony and has met a completely new group of people, including Anna Rai, a local TV personality. When Anna's private journal goes missing, she confides in Stephanie that she feels terribly vulnerable. What if the notebook falls into the wrong hands and her secrets are made public? She hints that such revelations could be devastating to her and other public figures. When a blackmailer demands cash in exchange for the notebook, the two women lay a trap to snare the crook. But will Stephanie use or abuse the information she now has?

  • A brutal serial killer is murdering women in Vancouver's West End. On a seemingly insane rampage, he leaves their headless bodies to be found and writes taunting letters to the police. It soon becomes apparent that all his victims are members of the neighborhood fitness center. Sebastian Casey, a reporter with the weekly community newspaper, has just begun to work out at the center. As he gets to know some of the others who use the facility, Casey finds himself drawn into the search for the killer. His interest intensifies when he begins a tentative relationship with Emma Shaughnessy, a local schoolteacher, whose good looks and fitness regime makes her a prime candidate to be the killer's next victim.

  • Charlie D is back doing his late-night radio call-in show. It's Halloween—The Day of the Dead. Not a day filled with good memories for Charlie, but the show must go on. His studio guest this evening is Dr. Robin Harris, an arrogant and ambitious "expert in the arts of dying and grieving," who also seems to be auditioning for her own radio talk show. Charlie and Dr. Harris do not hit it off. Things go from bad to worse when the doctor's ex-lover, Gabe, goes on air to announce that he's about to end his life. Dr. Harris is entirely unsympathetic until she learns that Gabe also has her daughter Kali and plans to poison her too. It will take all of Charlie D's on-air skills to save both Gabe and Kali.

  • When detective Rick Montoya returns to the city to try to clear his name after being accused of taking a bribe, he discovers someone is living in his apartment. Before he can find out who it is, the apartment house goes up in flames. Rick watches covertly as the police remove two bodies. Was the firebombing meant for him? Who exactly was killed in the fire? And why? What was his landlady Cheryl doing at home in the middle of the afternoon? And why is her daughter Susanna acting strangely? Then his estranged wife arrives at the scene of the fire. The questions mount up, along with the suspects.

  • Cleanup

    Norah Mcclintock

    Connie Suarez, downsized from her job as a legal secretary, is working as a maid. She's getting used to picking up after people and putting their lives in order. But she is not prepared for the mess that awaits her when she arrives at work one morning to find her employer dead on the floor of his bedroom. Connie's co-worker Maria, an illegal alien from Colombia, quickly becomes the prime suspect in his murder.
    When Maria begs her for help, Connie cannot refuse. As she tries to discover what really happened, she learns that Maria has been keeping a number of things from her. Now Connie can't decide who or what to believe. And that's not the worst of it. Connie soon realizes that she herself is also a potential target for violence. The question now is, will she be able to clean up the mess that Maria is in without getting killed herself?

  • Handyman Cedric O'Toole likes his simple life. He lives by himself on a hardscrabble farm, collecting sheds full of junk and dreaming of his next invention. Then one day a slick city lawyer drives down his lane and his nightmare begins. Lori-Anne Wilkins, the wife of a wealthy local businessman, has fallen to her death from a deck Cedric built, and the furious widower has slapped him with a lawsuit. When Cedric goes to check out the accident site, he discovers that someone has tampered with the railing around the deck. It appears he's been set up to take the blame. But who might want Mrs. Wilkins dead? Then, when someone runs him off the road, he realizes that his life is in danger too. To clear his name and save his life, Cedric has to use his inventive mind to trap the real killer.

  • Gulliver Dowd is a little person in a world of hurt. After his sister, an NYPD policewoman, is murdered, he becomes a licensed PI. Dowd is shocked to discover that his mysterious new client is Nina, his high-school girlfriend and the one true love of his life. But the real surprise is yet to come. Nina hires Gulliver to find her runaway daughter, convincing him to take the case only when she confesses that the missing girl is Dowd's daughter too, the product of their high-school romance.
    When he takes the case, Dowd must travel from an exclusive girls' academy to a Mafia don's mansion to seek the answer to his newfound daughter's disappearance. But all is not what it seems. What is the real surprise awaiting Gulliver Dowd?

  • Walter Davis is young, handsome, intelligent, dynamic and personable. The product of a bi-racial marriage but abandoned by his father as a young child, he prides himself on three things: his drive to succeed, his fine clothes and never having been late for anything in his life. Walter is also homeless. The medical expenses that came with his mother's brief and unsuccessful battle against cancer have left him destitute. Still, ever the optimist, Walter believes that if he lives in his car for a few months, he will have the time he needs to find a good job in the business world and turn his life around. His situation gets more complicated when he finds himself attracted to a girl he meets at the mailing center where he keeps a post box. But trying to impress a girl when you have no fixed address proves difficult, and when he's caught in a lie, she shuns his company. Walter's struggles grow when his car is impounded and he can't afford to pay the fine. Only resilience, ingenuity and his drive to succeed can bring Walter back from the brink of despair.

  • Something is terribly wrong at Symphony Hall. Luigi Spadafini, the symphony's star conductor, has been murdered-and the entire orchestra has confessed to the crime. This is the mess that Detective Lieutenant Pratt walks into one Saturday morning. Overworked and tired, he's also saddled with Detective Ellis, the newest member of the homicide squad and still very wet behind the ears.
    With both the mayor and several big shots from the symphony's board of directors demanding a speedy resolution of the crisis, Pratt is pushed to the limit. The trouble is, he also faces a seemingly endless list of suspects with good reasons to want the philandering Spadafini dead. With the clock ticking, Pratt is forced to use both his wits and the computer skills of Detective Ellis to solve the mystery.

  • The year is 2147. Chago, twenty-four, is a prisoner in a world made up only of prisoners and those who guard them. The only bright spot in Chago's life is his son, Jim-Jim, whose mother is a guard. In an effort to resolve overcrowding in the prison, the warden introduces the Innocence Device, a high-tech machine he claims can determine innocence or guilt. Prisoners are encouraged to walk through the Innocence Device and experience its rewards: immediate freedom or death. When they discover the machine is rigged, the prisoners riot and take over the prison. After witnessing the execution-style death of the mother of his son, and surviving a brief stint outside the prison walls, Chago ends up in a position of power. But he soon finds the new regime little different from the old, and he sets out to save the only thing he values—his son.

  • In clear and accessible language, Generation Us explains the phenomenon of global warming, outlines the threat it presents to future generations and offers a path toward solutions to the problem. The reality of global warming has long been accepted within the scientific community, yet it remains a hotly debated topic at the political and social level. Why is this? Is it the fact that the ultimate effects of global warming will not be felt in our lifetimes? Do we really feel no moral responsibility for future generations? Dr. Weaver, one of the world's leading experts in the field, contends that, just as humans have been responsible for creating the problem of global warming, we must also be the solution.

  • Vancouver city councilor George Hamilton Nash has left his wife of twenty years and moved into a posh West End condo. A wealthy man about town, Nash appears to be enjoying all the pleasures the city has to offer-until he turns up dead. The note left behind indicates suicide, and the police are satisfied with this. But Sebastian Casey, a reporter for the West End Clarion who knew something of Nash's reputation as a lady's man, is not so sure. He doesn't buy suicide and sets out to prove otherwise, amidst trouble in his own relationship, and with no shortage of suspects, including the wife left behind. The break Casey needs comes from a most unlikely source.

  • Gwen Lake is a forty-five-year-old police officer with a desk job, an ex-husband and a future not even close to the American dream. A year after her divorce, and more out of boredom and curiosity than anything else, she agrees to a meeting with her ex's new wife. She has no idea that the encounter will lead to murder. And she has decidedly mixed emotions when her ex-husband is arrested for the crime. Instead of accepting the lead detective's advice to book a Club Med vacation and leave the investigation to the professionals, Gwen decides to work the case on her own. Her life is about to get a lot less predictable and a lot more dangerous.

  • Charlie D is the host of a successful late-night radio call-in show. His listeners have a particularly intimate relationship with him and often reveal much about themselves, confident that he will honor their trust and that he can save them. In their minds, he is perfect: one of life's winners. But Charlie feels he's something of a fake. His easy confidence on-air belies the reality for a man born with a wine-colored birthmark that covers half his face.
    Love You to Death covers two hours on "The World According to Charlie D" during which he must both discover the long-time listener who is killing the people who trust him and attempt to come to terms with the man behind the birthmark.

  • That Dog Won't Hunt

    Lou Allin

    Cowboy drifter Rick Cooper is on the run in the California desert when he meets Gladys Ryan, an eccentric widow who offers him a ride in her classic 1970 Mustang. Before long she convinces him to accompany her to Northern Ontario to help refurbish her hunting lodge, promising him a share of the upcoming season's profits and hinting at more. The offer is too good to pass up. Rick takes to life in the bush, working hard to make the lodge successful. In his free hours he hunts birds, reluctantly taking Bucky, Gladys' ancient golden retriever along with him.
    But when the lucrative season comes to an end, Gladys refuses to share the profits, instead offering the hired man a few thousand dollars in wages. In the middle of a drinking bout, an argument ensues. Rick shoves Gladys and she falls and hits her head and dies. He takes her body into the remote bush and disposes of her trademark Mustang, telling anyone who asks that she has gone off on her annual snowbird vacation. No one seems suspicious and it looks like the perfect crime. Rick seems to have it all figured out...except what to do with Bucky...

  • Best Girl

    Sylvia Warsh

    Amanda Moss is a young hairstylist with ambitions to become a musician and play in a band. She was adopted at age three after her parents were killed in a car crash. At least that's what her adoptive mother Shelley has always told her. Shelley is also a hairdresser. But beyond that, mother and daughter don't see eye to eye on much.
    Then one day Amanda's life changes dramatically when a stranger shows up and tells her a very different story about her parents. Her real mother has just died of cancer while serving a life sentence for the murder of Amanda's father. Suddenly Amanda feels her whole life has been a lie. Was her mother really guilty? When she also discovers that her father was in a successful rock-and-roll band when he was killed, she goes looking for former band members to try to find out what really happened so many years before. In the process she learns some unpleasant truths about her family. She also learns that you can love and hate someone at the same time.

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