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Foreword To Mystery Ink

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Edward L. Greenspan, Q.C.,
makes his case for
Mystery Ink.

One of the privileges of my career has been that my work has taken me to all parts of Ontario. I have spent a good amount of time in a good portion of this province. I have spent many weeks of trials and hearings in small, medium and large towns all across Ontario. While my practice usually involves criminal matters, my travels in Ontario have led me to meet many people outside the criminal process. Hotel employees, restaurant workers, and countless local merchants have all enhanced my Ontario travels with their conversation, friendship and kindness. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have spent so much time in many Ontario towns.

But of course, I wouldn't have been in those towns if there hadn't been a client charged with a crime there.

The 18 stories in this collection mostly involve something criminal, but at the same time these are also stories that capture, in 18 different ways, various parts of Ontario. Whether it's "the Soo" described in Rick Mofina's "They Always Came at Night," or the camping town life portrayed in "The Duke" by Eric Wright, from Port Hope to Peterborough, Owen Sound to Orillia, Barrie to Belleville, and North Bay to the Niagara region, you can take a tour of Ontario just by reading these pages.

I have always been drawn to crime stories. This huge literary niche allows us all to indulge in imagining whether we could commit the crime taking place in the story. We get to imagine ourselves as the perpetrator — how would I have committed the crime, would I be able to get away with the murder? We imagine ourselves as the victim: Would I have fallen for the sinister plot, would I have seen it coming, and could I have saved myself if I had? We see ourselves as the detective and we wonder if we would be clever enough to piece together the clues to solve the crime. When we imagine ourselves in settings we know or that are nearby, it is all the more fun to play along. A mystery in Kingston is more interesting than the same story set in suburban Los Angeles, at least for an Ontarian that is. With the stories in this book, the fun begins with knowing they all take place in Ontario, and that we are that much closer to the intrigue and suspense.

Short crime stories are among the most difficult to write. Yet these stories are engaging and entertaining, while providing a rich and accurate description of their settings. The authors make it easy to picture the locations and characters, while also providing plots that are intriguing, mysterious, and fun to read. This is a wonderfully diverse collection of short stories with little in common other than the Ontario settings and the short length of each. While many of the stories have an element of crime to them, even those are quite different. Some have surprising twists worthy of Jeffrey Archer's short stories (but I won't dare tell you which ones those are). Others present unconventional approaches to the crime story genre, such as Scott Mackay's "Hot Button," about a cop pursuing a hunch, or "Kingston Confidential" by Therese Greenwood, about a dangerous liaison. "Milk of Magnesia" by Sue Pike will put vivid imagery into your imagination, while Jake Doherty's "Last Bus from Barrie" will put you right in the bus station.

In my years of practice as a criminal defence lawyer, I have certainly had some notorious and unusual cases. But it is less understood that most of my clients are those with somewhat run-of-the-mill types of cases that never warrant so much as a blurb in a local newspaper. Though every case is unique, there is often surprisingly very little drama involved in most criminal cases. Even a violent crime, arson or drug trafficking case can be pedestrian, along with the usual trespassing or minor traffic offense. In certain respects, a lifetime of studying criminal cases has taught me that many crimes can be almost predictable in their fact patterns. But, then again, it has also taught me that almost everyone can behave in unexpected ways when the opportunity arises, whether that opportunity arises from an unanticipated moment or a deliberate planned event. It is this human element that makes criminal matters fascinating to us all. And these stories provide an insight into how intentional crimes and unplanned incidents test the emotional and ethical limits of those involved.

These stories present a remarkably complex assortment of viewpoints into those affected by the ripple created by a single, criminal act or even just an intention to act. There are, of course, the victims, the perpetrators, the witnesses, and the cops. But we also are exposed to family members of these people and discover that in several of these short stories there is no shortage of depth. You will find in here stories involving young children, teens, twenty-somethings and the elderly. No two of these stories feels like any of the others. Unlike a collection of one author's short stories, this anthology brings the together the voices of many authors, and the result is 18 unique stories.

If you are standing in a bookstore somewhere, I hope you will purchase this book. If you already own it and are reading at home, I think you will enjoy many of the stories you are about to read. For those who have never traveled to the various cities of Ontario, these stories will take you there. And if you have seen as much of Ontario as much as I have, these pages will be a welcome reminder of your travels. And, in any case, you will enjoy reading these well-written stories by Ontarians.

— Edward L. Greenspan, Q.C.