FALSE IMPRESSIONS by Canadian author Sandra Nikolai was a real gem, a nicely composed whodunit that shies away from gore and violence in favor of a dialogue-driven narrative in which the characters’ brainstorming sessions take center stage. Am I mixing metaphors? Maybe. Go buy the book.

I always like reading mysteries that are set in different places and Nikolai puts the reader right in downtown Montreal, giving us a sense of the French influence as well as the shops, restaurants, subway system, etc. She uses snippets of the French language accurately and to solid effect. Her writing style is strong on description and dialogue and is easy to read.

The plot doesn’t have bizarre twists and turns—it goes straight at the central theme which is Megan Scott’s discovery that her husband–for whom the word “cad” was coined–has been cheating on her with friends and strangers alike and suddenly ends up dead far from where he said he was going to be. She is the most likely suspect and nicely introduced details that Megan didn’t realize meant anything suddenly do.  There is a love interest who is handled adroitly, Megan’s husband is recently dead after all, and a nicely wrapped up ending.

I wondered if I would categorize this as a “cozy” mystery, a category that for me usually involves a cat and something knitted. Nikolai gives us more of a clean thriller and one which many should enjoy.

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