Jenny Willson is back, and digging up the truth hidden under the surface in southeast B.C.
The remarkable character created by Cranbrook’s Dave Butler is on the mystery trail, in the second book of Butler’s mystery series, “No Place For Wolverines.”
The first book, “Full Curl,” released last year, won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel. “No Place For Wolverines,” released just last month, continues the adventures of Jenny Willson, a tough, sharp-witted warden in Banff National Park.
“It’s a continuation of the series, so you recognize some of the same characters from ‘Full Curl,’ but the main protagonist takes on a bit of a different challenge in this one, and does a covert investigation into a fictitious ski hill as proposed for Yoho National Park,” Butler said in an interview with the Townsman.
In “Wolverines” — which takes place around Golden, BC, Willson undertakes a covert investigation into the aforementioned fictitious ski area — once she starts she realizes that perhaps the proposal is not what it seems on the surface. Teaming up with an investigative journalist and an RCMP Corporal, she continues to investigate despite hurdles that are thrown up in front of them, including by her own agency.
“She tries to figure out what’s going on, and along the way there are people who come to nasty ends,” Butler said.”But that just pumps up her resolve.
Butler said the plotlessness in “No Place For Wolverines,” weaves in the issues a Kootenay-type community faces when it runs up against a new proposal like a ski area.
“But I was also able to weave in some interesting tidbits of Canadian history, including Howes Pass, which was looked at as one of the routes for the railway, and eventually the highway.”
The writing of the book was a bit of an interim process, Butler said, but took nine to 10 months from start to finish.
“When I was in the starting stages of this one I was in the edit stages of the last one, so there was a bit of a cross-over in time frames,” he said. “But I pretty much focussed on this one — but I always had the third book in the series, which is finished now and off to the publishers.
“I already had that one in mind, and had a sense of where this one would take the third one. But I primarily focussed on ‘Wolverines’ through that time period.”
The process of creating the second book and the further development of Jenny Willson’s character also took Butler’s writing to another level.
“On the character side I felt I got a little deeper this time, with who she is and how she reacts to things. Because I had the first one under my belt I was able to walk right in knowing to a better degree how Jenny Willson would respond in various situations and how she might perceive things. And of course I threw some wrinkles at her to further test her and challenge her.
“On the process side, because I’ve had such great feedback on the first book I was excited to continue to share the story with people, and where she goes next.”
“The story takes on a life of its own, and suddenly has an outside life of its own, with people reading it and taking into their minds.
“I’ve appeared in front of quite a number of book clubs, and in every case they’ve given me lots of advice on the next books in the series, sometimes I’ll accept that and run with it, and sometimes I won’t. But it’s always fascinating to get that feedback about where they think I should be going next.”
Butler said the entire process of creation and actualization has been a humbling experience — as well as a lot of fun.
“There are a lot of people in the world who’ve wanted to write a book, and to be able to do that and having it published and getting it into people’s hands is really humbling, and a really fun experience. There’s no doubt, I just love it. It’s so good to get the feedback from people after they’ve read the books.”
In the meantime, “Full Curl” is still on the shelves, and still selling.
“My publisher told me this would happen. Because the second one is now out, I’m finding that people are buying both of them, which is cool, or they’re reading the second one and going back to the first one and getting it. It’s actually bumping up the sales of the first one. Theoretically, I hope that when the third one comes out, about this time next year, it will be multiplied again.
The third book in the Jenny Willson series — “In Rhino We Trust” — will come out in 2019.“No Place For Wolverines” is available at Lotus Books in Cranbrook and other bookstores in the region, as well as on all digital platforms like Amazon and Kindle.