Call it the mystery of the missing readers.
"Did you realize that there are 200 Canadian crime writers? And people can't name a single one," says Rick Blechta, president of the Crime Writers of Canada.
Even though Canada boasts some of the finest writers in the genre — such as Giles Blunt and William Deverell — too often we still turn to the United Kingdom and United States for our crime fiction. That's too bad, because our wide open country offers plenty of opportunity for murder and mayhem of the fictional sort.
I wonder if this is any way correlated to this episode of a Canadian reality cop show I saw a few years ago. It modelled on "COPS" — that American show where macho, neckless, show-off officers field calls to reign in wife-beater-clad drunks, occasionally bust in on and violently restrain poor people who live in what seem to be motels, and conduct prostitute stings that nab wide-eyed morons who have only just begun to imagine how bad their lives are about to get.
But of course, in a Canadian version things are different. In the episode I saw, lo those years ago when I still had cable, the small-town Manitoba cop was responding to a store alarm. When he arrived he found a drunk guy sitting out front on the curb with his head in his hands, a broken window behind him. I'm paraphrasing, but it went something like this:
"Oh," he said. "It's Tony." When he got out of the car and approached the "perp" he said, "Hey, Tony, what's happening tonight?"
"Nothing," comes the voice from below.
"Tony, you had a bit to drink, eh?"
"Let's get you home and we'll deal with this in the morning, 'kay?" He helps him to his feet and leads him to the back of the car. "Watch your head, Tony…"
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we don't read crime novels written in Canada. Because we assume they're most often going to be more "misdemeanor" than "crime" novels.