When J.P Karwacki of Argo bookshop on Ste. Catherine street west looked at me with eager excitement in his eyes, I too gleamed with delight because I trust this man’s taste in books to boundless extents. His new arrival, as it turns out, was the latest reprint of David Montrose’s 1953 noir mystery Body on Mount Royal. Released at the end of 2012 by Vėhicule press, it is part of the collection Ricochet Books edited by Brian Busby, who reprints vintage pulp novels here in the fair city of Montreal.
From the publishing to the printing to the content itself, this novel is Montreal. Our hero, Russell Teed, is an anglo-Quebecer from before the introduction of Bill 101, representing a mess of stereotypical crassness and cold archetypal gumshoe-ism. As readers, we’re given the chance to follow him around Mount Royal, Sherbrooke street, Cotes des Neiges and other recognizable jaunts. His perspective is quintessential of its time as he sees this town with a complete lack of recognition of its French heritage (a view shared by Kevin Burton Smith in his introduction to the novel, as well as many of its 21st century reviewers and critics). It would be unheard of in 2013 to consider Montreal without Francophone culture, characters or even its street names.
But despite this dated perspective the nostalgic, romantic Montrealeur or Montrealaise should indulge in this action packed, pulpy noir mystery, straight off a Harlequin paperback (its original publisher) shelf in Pharmaprix. For the Montrealer who is still in love with his or her city and seeks a glimpse at the history of its ideology, for the lovers of mystery and pulp fiction, Body on Mount Royal is a terrific read. Take it and a beer, (I don’t recommend Molson, despite Russell Teed’s penchant for the stuff) to your favourite park on one of these upcoming hot summer days and get yourself a sun burn because you’re too into this book to remember sunscreen.
Body on Mount Royal is available at Argo Bookshop 1915 Ste. Catherine St. West or visit them at www.argobookshop.ca.
Peruse the other novels in the series, The Crime on Cote des Neiges (1951) and Murder over Dorval (1952) a1t www.vehiculepress.com.