Black Fly Season

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In the town of Algonquin Bay, 250 miles north of Toronto, the tiny, biting black flies can bring out the worst in everyone when they swarm in the spring. And the worst is what detectives John Cardinal and Lisa Delorme expect when they learn that a beautiful redhead's memory loss is caused by a .32 caliber slug lodged in her skull. Then a biker named “Wombat” Guthrie turns up lying on a cave floor with his carcass crawling with maggots and the plot thickens wonderfully.

Into this sordid story stumbles a hapless coke addict, Kevin Tait, whose sister (the forgetful redhead, of course) has come out of the west to save him from himself. But Kevin has gotten entangled with a brutal Cuban, improbably known as Red Bear, who with an absolutely vicious speed freak named Leon Rutkowski, has challenged the “Wombat” and his Harley hellions for domination of the cocaine trade.

As all of these characters speed to their predictable ends, a lot of useful crime scene investigation information develops, including more than most clean-living citizens need to know about Calliphora vomitoria, the maggot. Enlivening the cast of characters is the witty biologist Dr. Angus Chin, rumored to keep a pet five-foot tapeworm in his belly, luring it up through his esophagus occasionally to study its response to various diets.

Black Fly Season is a great thriller. In fact, for people who like this kind of book—tapeworms, dead wombats, etc.—this is the kind of book they like best.