Book Review: Yellow Vengeance

Posted by Wayves volunteer 13/02/2014

Yellow Vengeance: A Calli Barnow Mystery

By Denise Holliday



Liz Bugg


Yellow Vengeance: A Calli Barnow Mystery


368pp. Insomnia Press. $19.95


ISBN: 1554831024


This was my first time reading anything by author Liz Bugg, an actor and teacher from Saskatchewan, now living in Toronto. I liked this book so much that I will be checking her listings in future and looking up her previous novels in this series.

Yellow Vengeance is the third volume of a mystery series chronicling lesbian detective Calli Barnow, a Private Investigator living in Toronto's Kensigton Market. The story opens with Calli settling happily into married life with her new wife, Jess. But trouble is looming: Jess wants a baby while Calli would rather fight a psycho with a gun than contemplate parenthood. When an old school friend asks Calli to investigate her mother's death, Calli jumps at the chance to distract herself with work. Her plans go awry when her own mother reveals a shocking secret that threatens to turn Calli's life upside down.

Right from the beginning, the story is fluid and interesting; exploring themes of family: lost, found, chosen. The author approaches them in a way that develops both narrative and the likeability of her central character. The plot relies on strong character development that is emotional, passionate and tasteful.  By Chapter Three I'm engaged and reading with a sense of anticipation for what may be ahead. 

By turns lighthearted and thrilling, Yellow Vengeance features an engaging cast of characters including Calli's beautiful and sensible wife, Jess; June, her police officer ex-lover; and Dewey, aka Lady Dee: drag artiste, sidekick, buddy, and sometimes assistant. The city of Toronto itself is a character, especially the quirky Kensington Market neighbourhood where Calli lives and works. 

By the end of the book, I found myself engrossed with the story, held in a motion of wanting answers all the way through. There are so many layers that at the surface appear separate but are ultimately connected, with aspects of both mystery and misery. This young (44) detective certainly has a way to get to the truth, whether it is personal or client related.

This book is a good read and very enjoyable, and I would recommend it to friends and family alike! And I will be checking out other novels by Liz Bugg. She is a competent author with a skill to keep her readers captivated.

Liz Bugg was born in Saskatchewan. She studied Drama at the University of Regina, Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama (England), and University of Toronto.  After spending years acting and teaching English, Drama and Music at the high school level, she began to write as well. The result is the Calli Barnow Series, along with some shorter literary and commercial works. She  lives in Toronto with her partner of many years, and continues to teach and act when not writing. You can find more about her writing on her website.


Editor's Note: Denise Holliday is an activist for LGBT equality and has often been a contributor to Wayves. Loyal reders will recall her column Transgender Diaries. Denise lives with her family in rural Nova Scotia.


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