SHADES OF WAR is a historical fiction set in a small mining town in British Columbia during World War I. Clare Tate, a thirty-one-year-old war widow and suffragist from Toronto has barely unpacked her bags when she becomes embroiled in a murder mystery that involves the female members of a troubled family. Explosions, ghosts, native wisdom, and romance quickly draw Clare into this unusual backwater.
Over Easter weekend, 1917, the Boisseneau family waits on the Home Front for news of their loved ones fighting in France. The three brothers, Pierre, Louie, and Joe run The Timber Hotel with the help of Pierre’s wife and four children. Clare has reserved lodging at the hotel and is looking forward to a short and uneventful stay. Still mourning the death of her husband two years earlier at the Battle of Ypres, she pours herself into her suffrage work to resist disturbing reminders of her grief.
She finds, however, that these apparently rustic townspeople arouse the emotions she had been determined to keep suppressed, and when the women of the Boisseneau family ask her to help them in their quest to solve a murder, the mourning subsides and she begins to heal.
Clare eventually causes a reassessment of values among the townspeople and unexpectedly falls in love with one of the Boisseneau brothers while helping the family search for a murderer in their midst. SHADES OF WAR is both a murder mystery and a war story that explores the complexities of the melancholia associated with loss. Within the changing landscape of warring factions, both personal and national, the novel also highlights the weekend in Canadian history when the women in western Canada won the right to vote and the country, through its victory at Vimy Ridge, came of age.
“In a sparkling debut as a novelist, Michele Carter proves an apt and descriptive storyteller in her tale about romance and mystery in a Canadian frontier town in 1917. Extremely interesting is the collection of cross-cultural characters, so detailed and so true to the way the West was settled. Central to the time period are the letters which come from faraway France where the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge is dulled by the loss of a loved one. Sure to capture the imagination are a thrust of ghostly adventures, a woman’s belief in feminism virtually before its time and one resident’s attempts to put a little opera music into his dull life.” —Saskatoon Star Phoenix
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