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DO OR DIE

by Barbara Fradkin

Napoleon Books

Reviewed by Karen Meek

DO OR DIE introduces Inspector Green of the Ottawa police force. He's good at his job but has a problem with delegating work to his colleagues, however he's the officer of choice when a political hot potato murder case needs solving.

Jonathan Blair, student at Ottawa University, son of a major charity benefactor, has been stabbed in the arts section of the university library. Initially, there appears to be no motive for the crime as Jonathan was a quiet, likeable guy without any enemies.

Jonathan was working in the neuropsychology department under Myles Halton, a respected world leader in his field. When Green interviews Halton and his staff, he finds a tense rivalry between Halton's two research teams and accusations of falsifying research levied at both by the opposite side. If the accusations can be proved then the reputations of both the individuals and Halton himself would be ruined. Possible murder suspects are revealed as Green finds that Jonathan has been asked to scrutinise the data of one of the teams.

In addition, Jonathan has recently split up with his long-term girlfriend and has been seen in the company of gorgeous Raquel Haddad. Her family is none too pleased, rapidly sending Raquel on a family visit to Beirut, just hours before Jonathan's death.

Green throws himself into the case at the expense of his currently strained relationship with his wife and baby son. The relationship is further threatened by his attraction to the witness who found the body.

DO OR DIE is an unusual mystery because of its setting, not just being in Canada but also being in an academic establishment. The murder is solved more through talk than action with Green conducting repeated interviews with the prime suspects. The major characters are well drawn but unlike some reviewers I didn't warm to Green, I didn't approve of his treatment of his family and wished he'd grow up a little. A well-written first novel, with a second instalment already in progress.

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