A Cranbrook writer is adding to the world’s Noir quotient, with the pending release of a new mystery series.
“Full Curl,” by Dave Butler, is the first novel in a series that will show readers a dark, dangerous undercurrent running underneath a familiar landscape.
“Full Curl,” which will be officially released to the reading public Sept. 30, introduces Jenny Willson to the world, a tough, sharp-witted warden in Banff National Park. As animals begin to disappear from the park, Willson begins an investigation that follows a trail of deceit, distraction and murder. As the list of victims grows — animal and human — Willson finds herself in a dangerous, cross-border race for justice.
Butler used a composite of different enforcement officers he’s met along the way to create his remarkable character. But he also stepped outside his comfort zone to bring Jenny Willson to life.
“It’s always a question about whether you write what you know, or you write what you don’t know,” Butler told the Townsman.
“So I decided that choosing a female character who’s fairly hard-edged and caustic witted is a fair departure from me. I thought it would be kind of fun to tackle something completely different than what I normally write about.”
As a result, Jenny Willson took on a life of her own as Butler wrote his way in the thriller.
“This is my first foray into fiction, and once I figured out who she was and how she would react to situations, it was quite often where she took me to places where I had not expected to go,” he said. “Sometimes, if I finished writing on a Sunday afternoon, I literally sat back in the chair and said ‘where the heck did that come from?’”
The same is true of the landscape Butler has created in “Full Curl.”
“It was a really interesting process. I tried to plot out the book as best I could in terms of the events and actually mystery, in terms of what happens when. But in terms of how I got there, and some of the nuances and twists and turns, they were all a complete surprise to me as I wrote.”
For inspiration, Butler went back to his own experiences in law enforcement, as an RCMP Auxiliary Constable for many years on the Coast, in the Okanagan and in Banff. He also did work as a park warden in Banff, so in “Full Curl” he is going back into familiar territory.
This experience combined well with Butler’s love of mystery-thrillers. Being an avid reader helped him with creating the literary structure necessary to write his own.
“It’s always been an intriguing genre for me, so when I started to think about writing I knew that that’s where I wanted to get started in,” he said. “It seems to fit really well for who I am and what I like to do.”
The subject matter itself is timely — with relevant issues in the news close to home and around the world.
“In this case it was something I dealt with when I was back in Banff, and it intrigued me at the time,” Butler said. “There’s no doubt that the issue of poaching, and also the issue of trophy hunting — whether you look at what’s happening on the coast with grizzly bears, or in Africa with lions, rhinos and elephants — those questions are out there in society these days, and I find fiction is a fun way to explore the different perspectives on those questions.
“I’m not going to suggest anything’s right or wrong, or black or white, but it’s interesting when you look at it from all the different perspectives of the people involved, how it can be a much more complex situation than it might appear on the surface.”
“Full Curl” treks west and south through territory that will be very familiar to local readers may be able to recognize themselves, so to speak.
It starts and finishes in Banff, but a lot of it takes place in the East Kootenay — places like Invermere, Cranbrook and Kimberley will all be noticed by people as they read the book, Butler said. “It even pops down across the border into the U.S. That people will recognize.”
The second Jenny Willson Mystery, “No Place For Wolverines,” has already been sent to the publisher and will be available in 2018. The third book, “In Rhino We Trust,” will come out in 2019.
“I was really lucky when I pitched the book to a range of different publishers, and I was finally connected with [Dundurn Press],” Butler said. “At the time I was thinking that it could be a series, but I didn’t have it well plotted out at that point. But Dundurn was great to come back and say we’ll take your first three.
“When I realized that was happening, I was able — literally over the course of a weekend — to take a few ideas I had in mind about different kinds of books and roll them out. So I have a contract for three, and [“Full Curl”] is the first of at least three.
Full Curl will be available upon the book’s official launch at Lotus Books, Saturday, September 30. At that point it will be available throughout Western Canada, and on October 24 it will be released in the U.S. Full Curl can also be preordered through Lotus Books, other local bookstores, and through Amazon Indigo.
For more information and “Full Curl” and the other books in the series, check out davebutlerwriting.com