Hugh Garner

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Michael Sotiron

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Writing a police procedural [Death in Don Mills] had its advantages as it allowed Garner to vent his authoritarian and oft-reactionary views on just about everything through the thoughts of his chief character.

The disadvantages, however, are that Garner's indulgences and interjections work to the detriment of his thriller and result in an overly long flaccid book, which too often strays from the central plot and resulted in a remarkably unthrilling book.

Far more insidious, however, than his frequent editorials are some of Garner's obvious assumptions. Throughout the book, Inspector McDumont commits some questionable and other plainly illegal acts, such as intimidation and threats of blackmail, in order "to get the facts". By having McDumont proven "right" (because he does solve the case) and by generally creating a favourable impression of McDumont, these police methods are thereby condoned and supported. This evident bias in favour of police and their use of repressive methods becomes quite explicit when Garner has the gall to have his McDumont piously mouth the Metro Toronto Police force's slogan: "Yes, Ma'am, we're here to serve and protect." (p. 38)

Michael Sotiron, in Canadian Dimension, April, 1977.

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