The joke? Toronto thinks it’s the centre of some multicultural universe, always bragging about how people come from every part of the world to live there.
The punch line? Some of them are coming to commit crimes.
So yeah, Sharon MacDonald's got a problem.
And no, it’s not being trapped in her apartment, tethered to a court-ordered tracking device. It’s not the guy who just fell 25 stories and through the roof of a car. Not the cops preventing her from getting to the grow rooms. It’s not even the mystery man who shows up with a life-saving plan that just might work.
Sharon’s problem is Ray: he’s too good-looking.
Detective Gord Bergeron has problems too. Maybe it’s his new partner, Ojibwa native Detective Armstrong. Or maybe it’s the missing ten-year-old girl, or the unidentified torso dumped in an alley behind a motel, or what looks like corruption deep within the police force.
Bergeron and Armstrong are two of the cops poking around Sharon MacDonald’s place. They want to know whether the Arab-looking dead guy jumped, or if he was pushed. When it turns out he’s got no ID, no one knows him, and a couple of the 9/11 terrorists once lived in the building, they dig deeper, trying to make connections all over the new Toronto, in the Asian massage parlours, the street-dealer-led housing projects, and the mafia-run private clubs.
Or maybe they’ll just stay close to Sharon. She knows what everybody knows. The whole world might be coming here, but this is nowhere.read more
Kelli relaxed. She'd seen the inside of a lot of Beamers and Mercs and, hell, even Land Rovers since coming to Toronto a month back. She looked at the guy, cheapskate biz boy in his thirties, and thought he wasn't so bad, really, just acting tough. It was always good to get the first one of the night out of the way. She looked up and saw a man's face, floating, hanging in the sky. He looked her right in the eye. Then he smashed into the windshield. The cheapskate screamed like a girl. And Kelli just stared at the face on the spiderweb of broken glass. The blood and bits of brain and bone. He must have fallen the full twenty-five floors. From Everybody Knows This is NowhereAfter the publication of his debut novel Dirty Sweet, the parallels between John McFetridge and that master of crime fiction Elmore Leonard were readily apparent. Both novelists concern themselves with criminals slightly less smart than they put on, and police slightly smarter than they let on. Both imbue their primary settings (Leonard has Detroit, McFetridge, Toronto) with a heady grit and coarseness that elevates the status of the cities above that of narrative backdrops to that of major characters. Both write deliciously crunchy dialogue which sting the reader with their own unique urban patois.Now, upon reading McFetridge's second, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, it is apparent McFetridge is no mere clone of Leonard. Dirty Sweet was entertaining, but McFetridge could have settled at that point into a nice career as a second-rater with flashes of brilliance (read: Tim Dorsey). Everybody Knows showcases a writer coming into his own. Granted, the parallels with the master (what else could you call Leonard at this point in his career?) are still present, but McFetridge had broadened the distance between the two, creating a Toronto as dangerous-cool as Leonard's Detroit, yet somehow sharper, more angular. Leonard's Detroit is a grungy yet somehow loveable creation; you could see yourself living there, enjoying the dingyness. McFetridge's Toronto is permeated with grime and murk, both physically and morally. While his overall style may be closer to Leonard's, McFetridge's Toronto is far more malevolent in tone, closer to the bleakness of Ed McBain's fabled city of Isola in his 87th Precinct series [sidenote: Please read McBain, everyone. No better American writer of the police procedural has ever been produced.]. This Toronto is not a family-friendly city, but a metropolis of cynicism and spite; "[No] one noticed. Or no one cared. After all,it wasn't keeping people away from downtown shopping or bringing down real estate values. Toronto built its ghetto way out in the burbs, never thinking it was a growth industry."McFetridge crafts a labyrinth and distinctly cinematic crime drama with Everybody Knows, flipping back and forth between drug dealers and police officers as they go about their daily routines. There's the detectives Armstrong and Bergeron, staking out a possible grow-op while embroiled in a missing child case; Bobbi, a woman with a faulty electronic tracking device on her ankle and a chance on making serious cash with her grow-op; Nugs, a thug with more smarts than you could guess; and more characters than can be easily accounted for. When you add in the mob, mcguffins, backstabbings and reversals, and dizzing subplots, you get one hell of a delicious read.Plot-wise, Everybody Knows is a bit of a shaggy dog, with loose ends dangling everywhere, but that's part of its allure; these are a few days in the lives of its characters, where there is not so much a mystery as there is a confluence of circumstances that draws everyone together at different times. Where McFetridge really shines, much like as Leonard, is in his atmosphere, created by a narrative style so condensed and stark and frosted over by winter's chill it threatens to recast Leonard's already pared-down prose as overtly purple.McFetridge is fast becoming the noir writer of the Canadian urban landscape (yes, there is too a Canadian urban landscape). Dirty Sweet hinted at the talent; Everybody Knows This is Nowhere stops hinting, and smacks you in the jaw.read more
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Even though I didn't finish this book (she confessed), I am certainly recommending it to my patrons who are looking for a new author in Crime Fiction. This is a gritty and edgy story, in which some of the cops are decent, and some of them are on the make; some of the criminals are just in it for the money, and some of them are nasty pieces of work that take joy in inflicting pain. In short, it is a fictional world inhabited by people in all their raw humanity.The narrative is compelling, which ironically explains why I didn't finish the book. It paints too vivid a picture of a world I would prefer to deny. If you like your literature noir, but a little short of graphic forensics, this book may be right up your alley.read more
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Canadian author McFetridge's complex crime caper, whose title comes from Toronto-born Neil Young's first album with Crazy Horse, follows Toronto police detectives Bergeron and Armstrong as they pursue a variety of cases, starting with the body that falls off a high building and strikes the car windshield of a john just about to enjoy a hooker's services. Meanwhile, Sharon MacDonald is under electronic house arrest, working angles on expanding her dope business, when she meets a guy named Ray with plans to smuggle literal shiploads of marijuana. A clear disciple of Elmore Leonard, McFetridge (Dirty Sweet) has almost every character talk and think like Chili Palmer ("That was one thing J.T. learned in Afghanistan--the enemy's only half your problem, if that"), not a bad thing for a fun read. On the down side, too many subplots start and abruptly end as this noir love song to Toronto plays out. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved