As a Canadian, it's refreshing to read a book that's based in a Canadian city. Crang lives with his long time girlfriend in an area of Toronto called the Annex. If you know Toronto at all it's a joy to know where the character is going as the author describes the environment and streets.
Crang, our criminal lawyer has a client, Grace Nguyen, a beautiful and treacherous woman who is the mastermind of the biggest marijuana grow-op business in Canadian history. After Crang works diligently to get Grace a fair deal for her guilty plea, his client disappears on the day she is supposed to turn herself in. The problem with that is she owes Crang seventy-five thousand dollars! Crang has to find his client in the next three weeks or not only will he be in serious trouble with the court judge, he'll also be out a huge amount of money.
This is where the mystery begins. Although the author fleshes out the Crang character for those of us unfamiliar with his earlier work, the author is careful not to overwhelm the reader with superfluous details. Through the cunning and investigative mind of Crang, the plot develops and the mystery deepens. Take Five is a gentler mystery than I'm used to but that can be a good thing when you want a book that you can break up into smaller sections and not feel so compelled to stay up all night to read. Don't get me wrong, it was a good mystery with complex plot twists but it doesn't compel you to read just one more page because "I'll DIE if I don't find out what's gonna happen." I would definitely read more of this author's mysteries.
Let me expand on what I was saying in the previous paragraph. To me there are two types of mysteries. Those that you don't dare put down, they consume all your time from the moment you read the first page, then there are mysteries that intrigue the intellect, they make you think about the twists and turns. It's ok to put these mysteries down for a few hours and let the details sink in. You read these books on lunch breaks and before bed but you can count on them to be a little gentler on the psyche. I used to read "The Cat Who..." books by Lilian Jackson Braun. Her mysteries were gentler and Jack Batten's book is similar. You still got right into the characters and the who done it of the story but reading the book over several days didn't cause heart palpitations, lol. This is not a "Mission Impossible" or "The Davinci Code" type of book where you're running headlong with the character, going a thousand miles a minute in your brain, trying to keep up with the words as you gobble them up. It is a solid, interesting and complex mystery that will intrigue the reader and definitely wet the appetite for the next Crang book.
If the star rating systems on book sellers' sites would allow for half stars, this book would get a solid 3.5 stars. To me it's a good B+ type of book but since I cannot give half stars I will unfortunately have to settle for giving it a 3 star rating, although it is better than that. I look forward to Jack Batten's next Crang mystery, let's hope it's not another twenty years before he writes another!
Jack Batten's book Take Five will be coming out in paperback on April 20 of this year. It's ISBN number is 978-1-77102-273-6 and is published by Thomas Allen & Sons.
Jack Batten's Facebook page
Take Five on Amazon.ca
Jack Batten on GoodReads.com
My review of Take Five is being submitted this month to the ARC challenge on Art & Sole. The Artful Reader's Club, started this January by Darcy challenges us to read one book a month, review it and then make a piece of art to illuminate something in the book. My illustration refers to Crang's addiction to good coffee, in the book he covets his neighbor's coffee so he goes out and purchases a whole coffee bar set up for his office. I can totally relate to that addiction. ;o) The cups he bought were cobalt blue so I decided to do those blue mugs.
If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.