C.B. Forrest's first literary crime novel, The Weight of Stones, was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. His second McKelvey novel, Slow Recoil, was nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.
The Devil’s Dust
Charlie McKelvey goes to his northern hometown to find that the big city isn’t the only place with big problems.
Retired Toronto detective Charlie McKelvey runs from a cancer diagnosis and the violent memories of the big city and retreats to his hometown. A small declining mining centre, Ste. Bernadette offers McKelvey a chance to resolve old family issues, including his father’s involvement in a deadly wildcat strike in the late 1950s.
When the local police force enlists his help in tracing an upswing in youth violence and vandalism, McKelvey stumbles into the hornets’ nest of a crystal-meth industry. The timing couldn’t be worse for the town to expose its drug problem to the world: the mayor is hoping a new transmission line will be built through the town, bringing power-line jobs and construction dollars; the police chief is trying to close a deal to truck Detroit’s garbage to a local site as well as vie for the mayor’s job; and a sleazy businessman is attempting to buy up the town’s land to open a casino and resort.
Despite searches and seizures, the flow of drugs continues, leading McKelvey to suspect a local is manufacturing the drug. The Devil’s Dust holds a magnifying glass to the current decline of rural life, the scourge of meth, and what happens when an entire town loses faith.
[Starred] What could have been a mawkish tale of redemption is told with honest, restrained but eloquent prose that gives tantalizing glimpses into the sympathetic but sometimes deeply flawed characters. The result is quietly but deeply memorable.
Forrest has the gift of getting into McKelveys soul and sharing that with the reader. We live his anguish and his redemption. We feel the despair of the town and the hope. Were invested in tracking down the drug kingpin, solving the murders, and facing the truths. C.B. Forrest is that powerful a writer that the characters are real, therefore the story is also real.
Forrest realistically weaves the intricacies of small town character, politics, and police life
The first book featuring retired Toronto policeman Charlie McKelvey was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada. This second book should make the list again. It’s smart, carefully plotted and extremely well-written. It’s also sadly topical, focusing on drugs in rural communities.
Though the third in a trilogy based on the exploits of Toronto detective Charlie McKelvey, the Devil's Dust reads just as well as a stand alone.
Forrest’s book is tightly plotted, but it’s really McKelvey’s character development that makes the book work. This is a mature piece of writing from an author who is far younger than his hero.
The fabric of the story will make you think. The action ? You'll keep turning pages until it's done. The climax will stay with you.
The Devil's Dust firmly plants author C.B. Forrest as a major force to be reckoned with in Canadian mystery writing.