Dark­est Be­fore the Dawn

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Saltwire Wheels - Harold Wal­ters

Half a dozen times or more as I read “Dark­est Be­fore the Dawn” (Flanker Press) this ques­tion popped into my nog­gin: Oh my, what would Sergeant Pre­ston say?

Sergeant Pre­ston?

When I was a cal­low bay-boy, Sergeant Pre­ston of the Yukon was a TV and comic book hero. Be­cause there was no TV in my out­port home, I never saw Sergeant Pre­ston “live”, but I read ev­ery comic book avail­able.

Re­cently, as part of ex­haus­tive re­search, I watched Sergeant Pre­ston, his horse Rex and won­der-dog Yukon King on YouTube.

YouTub­ing, that’s an ac­tiv­ity nei­ther a bay-boy nor a North­west Mountie could have imag­ined, eh b’ys?

Sergeant Pre­ston was the quin­tes­sen­tial Mountie hero who I in­tended to grow up to be, un­til the Sis­ters Fate de­cided oth­er­wise.

Any­way …

Af­ter 10 years or so, Sgt. Win­ston Wind­flower is still on the force in Grand Bank, New­found­land, fight­ing vill’yens, solv­ing crimes, and al­ways — in leg­endary Mountie tra­di­tion — get­ting his man.

A body is dis­cov­ered; foul play is ob­vi­ous. Wind­flower is rid­ing head­long into the in­ves­ti­ga­tion when he gets a phone call I’m bet­ting no Mountie wants when he’s ac­tively work­ing a case.

“Win­ston,” says his wife Sheila, “can you pick up some di­a­pers on the way home?”

Oh my, what would Sergeant Pre­ston say?

It’s true, the Wind­flow­ers have a baby daugh­ter, Amelia Louise, the joy of their lives.

Yet, af­ter the di­a­per de­liv­ery, Sgt. Wince still must fight crime — in this case crime that leads to a cy­ber trail on the Dark Wet.

As al­ways, among his fel­low crime fight­ers is the ir­re­press­ible Cor­po­ral Ed­die Tiz­zard, de­spite his hav­ing been se­ri­ously wounded in an ear­lier ad­ven­ture. Tiz­zard, as well as be­ing tick­led to death to be back in the sad­dle, is thrilled be­cause his soul­mate Con­sta­ble Car­rie Evanchuk is back in Grand Bank.

A sec­ond vic­tim is found shot to death aboard a van on the dump road. This killing is an ob­vi­ous com­pli­ca­tion — and per­haps a clue — for Wind­flower and the Grand Bank RCMP de­tach­ment.

Al­though con­cen­trat­ing on his in­ves­ti­ga­tion, as fo­cused as Sher­lock Holmes on the trail of a spec­tral Baskerville hound, Wind­flower still makes time to at­tend to his fam­ily obli­ga­tions.

Di­a­pers, yes, but also walk­ing his dog, Lady.

To tell the truth, I was beat to a snot try­ing to keep up with Wind­flower and Lady on their fre­quent walks — up the trail, down the path, along the beach.

Di­a­pers, walk­ing the dog, and cook­ing. (Lis­ten, I’m not even go­ing to men­tion a stray cat that’s pussy-foot­ing its way into Wind­flower’s fam­ily.)

At the end of Chap­ter 19, Wind­flower is seated at the sup­per ta­ble “lost in food heaven.” A lit­tle far­ther along, as part of prepar­ing to cook, Wind­flower “put on a hair­net and apron.”

Oh my, what would Sergeant Pre­ston say?

As well as striv­ing to solve two mur­ders and sort out the par­tic­u­lars of a pos­si­ble sui­cide, Wind­flower man­ages — with She­lia’s help — to set wheels in mo­tion to find some way of im­prov­ing the qual­ity of men­tal health care in Grand Bank.

Wind­flower is up-to-his-arse busy. So busy, in fact, that he en­gages his of­ten-ine­bri­ated Un­cle Frank (Yes, Un­cle Frank is back from the Cana­dian West) to stake out a crime scene un­der the spot-check su­per­vi­sion of oth­er­wise oc­cu­pied Moun­ties.

Dur­ing his fre­netic in­ves­ti­ga­tion of two mur­ders, money laun­der­ing, and “cryp­tocur­rency” shenani­gans on the Dark Web — oh, get this, there are ru­mours of a ghost prowl­ing in the fog — Wind­flower squeezes out a few min­utes to get down on the beach for capelin scull…

… to at­tend capelin scull and al­low au­thor Mike Martin to pen a cracker-jack image of capelin rolling: “a sil­ver tsunami … swim­ming near the top of the wa­ter as tens of thou­sands of capelin tried to get in to spawn on the beach.”

Sil­ver tsunami. Gem-dandy, eh b’ys?

Sto­ries must end. Be­fore this one does there’s a def­i­nite sui­cide, the ghost is ex­posed, and a stray cat gets a name and a new home.

His case wrapped up, Wind­flower — as he is wont to do — will wax po­etic and con­tinue swap­ping quo­ta­tions from Billy the Bard of Avon with his com­pan­ions.

Win­ston spout­ing Shake­speare. Oh my, what would Sergeant Pre­ston say?

I know what Sergeant Pre­ston will say if some day in Sto­ry­time he reads the ad­ven­tures of Sgt. Win­ston Wind­flower.

He’ll say to the au­thor, “Mike b’y, your yarns are the cat’s meow! Keep ‘em com­ing.”

Well, he might.

Thank you for read­ing.

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