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Asylum    by Jeannette de Beauvoir order for
by Jeannette de Beauvoir
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

What a pleasure it is to find a mystery set in a city that I know well - Montreal, Canada. In Jeannette de Beauvoir's Asylum, her heroine, a happily married Francophone PR director for the Montreal mayor's office, investigates modern murders that relate to horrific abuse of orphans during the city's past during the infamous Duplessis era.

The author takes readers back and forth in time to show what trauma the orphans lived through after being moved to share insane asylums with their regular inmates - and much worse was in store for very many of them. In the modern day, four woman have been found murdered and posed on park benches. The mayor (concerned for the city's image) assigns Martine LeDuc to liaise with police and give him a daily report. Complicating matters, she learns that her deputy Richard Rousseau was in a relationship with one of the victims.

In the police department, Martine works with Anglophone Détective-lieutenant Julian Fletcher. As the authorities zero in on a homeless man as the perp, the duo build a different theory of the crimes, based on the women's links to the Duplessis orphans scandal, a pharmaceutical company, and a CIA mind-control research program. One of the women was putting together a damning dossier for 'crimes against humanity.' And as Martine gets closer to identifying the real killer, a park bench is picked out for her as well.

I enjoyed this novel for its familiar environs and the past atrocity at its core (don't miss the Author's Note at the end that elaborates on the Duplessis era). One jarring note though was a mention of the Canadian premier, which is not a term used in Canada except for provincial leaders. That minor quibble aside, Asylum is a very worthwhile and thought-provoking read.

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