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Free reign : a suspense novel /

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Bridge Works Publishing Co., 1997
Edition: First edition.
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Smart, suspenseful whodunit...unusual moral depth.-- New York Times

Review by Booklist Review

Ellis Portal was a compassionate and hardworking Toronto judge before a nervous breakdown landed him in a mental ward, and a scuffle with a woman he loved in law school sent him to prison. Now Portal is homeless and living in a shack near Toronto's River Don. While tilling his garden, he finds a severed hand with a ring from a secret law-school partnership. To solve the mystery of the hand, Portal draws from his past as the son of Italian immigrants and seeks help from friends in both his judicial and homeless lives. The mystery's solution emerges from a thicket of modern medicine and social problems. Aubert's writing in her first mystery is crisp and brisk, and her plot is capably constructed, offering many surprising and satisfying human and natural twists. The people in her story are all well developed and sympathetic, but her most intriguing "character" is the wilderness along the Don, which miraculously thrives in one of the world's busiest cities. --John Rowen

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Ellis Portal, who only five years earlier was one of Toronto's most able and respected judges, is now a derelict living in a packing crate in a remote area of one of the city's parks. But a bizarre discovery forces him to confront his past. While preparing his illicit garden in the park, Ellis discovers a hand, severed at the wrist, wearing the distinctive ring of a secret fellowship to which he belonged. There were only five members, all white. The hand is that of a black man. Reluctantly and with justified paranoia, Ellis is drawn back into the society that branded him a felon, put him in a mental institution and precipitated his fall. To find a murderer, he forms a liaison with those he knows best, the homeless of Toronto, and teams up with a persistent reporter who has her own vital connections. Their prying leads them to a solidly funded and seemingly respectable halfway house for pregnant teenagers. Why have so many of them disappeared? How are his former friends, now in positions of considerable power, involved? Why Ellis chose to become an outcast is never addressed in a satisfying manner. But a truly frightening scenario unveiled by this introspective judge, a feisty reporter and an array of shrewd street people makes this mystery debut nearly irresistible. (May) FYI: Rosemary Aubert is a Toronto-based criminologist and the winner of the 1994 Arthur Ellis Award (the equivalent of an Edgar) for best crime short story of the year. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

YA‘This title's setting and plot should attract YAs. The protagonist is a former judge named Ellis Portal; he is also a convicted felon. Isolated from his children and friends, he resides in a shack in a wilderness preserve that runs through the middle of Toronto. One day he finds a hand in his vegetable garden; on it is a ring that the man knows is one of only five in existence. A former law school associate had the rings made for himself and four classmates. This discovery and subsequent investigations yield a reconnection with "normal life," romance, and extreme danger. Aubert has written a good first novel; her premises are plausible; the introduction of environmental issues, homelessness, human isolation, and personal scandal are current and well presented; and her plot is well paced.‘Clodagh Lee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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