Last month, we featured Brockville author Perry Prete in our first ever Author Spotlight. Prete is not only a full-time veteran paramedic with the Leeds Grenville Paramedic Services, he is also an award-winning mystery writer. We had a chance to read both his debut novel All Good Things and the follow-up, The More Things Change, and these two books will serve as the first offering in a new UpFront Ottawa series, Book Reviews.
All Good Things is a well-crafted and expertly paced debut effort from Perry Prete. The novel centres around Ethan Tennant, a paramedic with the Ottawa Paramedic Service. While undertaking his routine duties as a paramedic on a call, assisting an elderly patient being transferred home from the hospital, Tennant overhears a scuffle in a nearby apartment. In stepping outside the bounds of duty to investigate, Tennant comes face-to-face with a killer and becomes embroiled in the case as the stakes escalate. As more and more bodies pile up across the city, Tennant teams with his detective friend Galen Hoese to solve the case, track down the killer and bring our usual tranquil capital city back to normal.
Prete makes excellent use of the Ottawa region to frame the characters and bring the story to life. Prete weaves together daily trips to Tim Hortons and lunch-time hot dog breaks on Elgin Street with a detail-rich retelling of a gruesome emergency call to the Prince of Wales apartment complex and culminates with an epic car chase on the Queensway. Whether talking about the minutiae of life, incorporating paramedic cases based on his thirty years of experience in the field, or crafting thrilling scenes from the author’s imagination, All Good Things is detail-rich and takes full advantage of Ottawa as a setting.
All Good Things is really differentiated from most mystery novels because it tells the story from the perspective of a paramedic. Not only is there humour to be drawn from the divide and territorial battles between paramedics and the police, but the fresh perspective prevents the story from ever getting stale. The author incorporates rich detail that would be overlooked by other authors, both concerning the large mystery at the centre of the plot but also minor things which help flesh out the novel.
Ethan Tennant is a likable and compelling main character. Other characters in the book, like his roguish paramedic partner Tom, his large-and-in-charge detective friend Galen, and even minor figures who only appear for a scene are well-described and given unique characteristics. However, I was left wanting more in terms of understanding the antagonist and his motivations.
Overall, All Good Things is crafted as a breezy read despite dealing with some very heavy subject matter, which is no easy feat. It showed great promise and introduced a compelling character worthy of leading a book series.
The More Things Change is a follow-up to All Good Things but deals with an entirely different case of world-altering proportions in which the stakes are raised in every regard. We witness a murder on Parliament Hill, the bombing of an Ottawa hospital, and hints of a global conspiracy…and that’s only within the first few chapters.
The author does a good job of anchoring the plot and allowing the characters to recognize how insane the events are, especially to be happening in Ottawa. Though the main plot may deal with threats of global consequence, some days Tennant still just has to do his job, helping an elderly man in Hintonburg who may have suffered a heart attack, or responding to an SUV rollover on Heron Road. Still, it makes one wonder how the stakes could possible be raised in future Tennant novels, and why Ottawa continues to attract such mayhem.
The More Things Change addresses the main concern I had with the debut effort by making the motivations and actions of the opposing force very clear. Prete fleshes out the conspiracy and the players involved very well. Additionally, the novel’s climactic scene at the Ottawa Train Station was as compelling and dramatic as any action movie. I like that Tennant does not turn into a superhero; he is a paramedic out of his depth, and acts accordingly.
Altogether, these two novels were quick and compelling reads that introduced likable characters, were well-plotted and mostly well-executed, and show great promise for future books in the Tennant series. If you would like to read for yourself, you can purchase either through Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, Leeds County Books, or Sands Press Canada.