Friday, March 4, 2022

"Hell and Gone"

Sam Wiebe is the award-winning author of the Wakeland novels, one of the most authentic and acclaimed detective series in Canada, including Invisible Dead (“the definitive Vancouver crime novel”), Cut You Down (“successfully brings Raymond Chandler into the 21st century”), and Hell and Gone ("the best crime writer in Canada").

Wiebe’s other books include Never Going Back, Last of the Independents, and the Vancouver Noir anthology, which he edited.

Wiebe’s work has won the Crime Writers of Canada award and the Kobo Emerging Writers prize, and been shortlisted for the Edgar, Hammett, Shamus, and City of Vancouver book prizes.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Hell and Gone and reported the following:
From page 69:
Her skin color and gender would be used to validate an institution she was hoping to improve. And it would ruin her credibility with the rank and file.

She wept a little. I thought of how there’d be no danger in her job now, no worries that today she’d take the wrong door with the wrong person behind it. And I pushed that thought away and comforted her as best I could.
In this scene, Wakeland’s fiancée Sonia Drego has been promoted to Public Relations—a career boost she doesn’t want, since it shunts her away from becoming a detective, using her as a woman of color to represent the department. Wakeland is torn between sharing Sonia’s disappointment, and relief that she won’t be in as much danger.

Does Hell and Gone pass the Page 69 Test?

I think so, yes.

Hell and Gone is about institutional lies.

The lies the cops tell to cover mistakes. The lies fathers tell to protect their sons. The lies men and women tell each other. And the lies we tell ourselves when we’re scared.

After witnessing a robbery-turned mass shooting, Vancouver PI Dave Wakeland is beset from all sides—the police want answers even if it puts Wakeland in danger, while rival gangs want to shift the blame for the violence onto each other. Who’s lying? What really caused this shooting?

A “sideways promotion” like Sonia’s is one way of putting pressure on Wakeland—punishing him through his loved ones. Institutions can work insidiously on a person, and his fiancée’s career is used against him.

So while the plot of the novel is about Wakeland uncovering what happened to cause this shootout, this scene illustrates the subtle ways he’s pressured into helping the police—whether that means solving it or not…
Visit Sam Wiebe's website.

The Page 69 Test: Invisible Dead.

The Page 69 Test: Cut You Down.

Q&A with Sam Wiebe.

--Marshal Zeringue