by John Oughton
Reviewed by Jon Muldoon
Death by Triangulation is purportedly a mystery novel. But as the plot twists and turns, and the action shifts between the present day and 1961, a larger story and – let’s not mince words – a larger conspiracy emerges.
Using a poetic private investigator as a novel starting point, Beacher John Oughton launches into the depths of conspiratorial imagination with a cast of characters mixing history and fiction in a blend of fact, conjecture and invention.
Oughton’s five previously published books of poetry may have something to do with his fictional hero’s occupation, but the book keeps things as hard-boiled as could be expected of a main character who files his reports in rhyming couplets.
The novel follows motorcycle enthusiast, poet, and perpetually broke P.I. Aaron Miles as he takes on a case from a wealthy Toronto family. The heirs of a recently deceased eccentric uncle has set the family’s collective nerves on edge, as they have nothing but vague hints of the passed-on anti-Papist’s past misdeeds.
Miles’ task is to quietly and discreetly clean up traces of that past, though a growing cast of characters appears hell-bent on keeping Miles from discovering the secrets he’s been hired to hide. As the story progresses, he discovers the truth he’s seeking is deeply intertwined with the Kennedy assassination.
Complicating matters of mystery are matters of the heart, as Miles must come to terms with his long-time occasional love interest in his hometown of Toronto with his growing attraction to a police officer in Prince Edward County, where most of the action in Death by Triangulation takes place.
Despite a seemingly convoluted chain of events happening both in present day and half a century previous, Oughton keeps the pages turning in the quest to find out what really happened on that fateful day in 1961, and what happens to the protagonist.
Death by Triangulation is a fun read for both mystery fans and conspiracy theorists. Here’s hoping Oughton can find more historical cases for Aaron Miles to take on.
by Ken McGoogan
Reviewed by Andrew Hudson
Before it became synonymous with LOLcats and other internet silliness, the word ‘meme’ was coined to describe an idea that moves across cultures the way genes are carried over generations.
In Celtic Lighting: How the Scots and the Irish Created a Canadian Nation, noted historian and Beach resident Ken McGoogan makes a case for a line of Scots and Irish memes that strongly shaped Canadian culture.
Besides little symbols like, “Don’t get out on the Ballyhack side,” an Irish saying that still echoes on the shores of Newfoundland, or a recent Burns’ night bash at the top of the CN Tower, McGoogan anchors the book in 30 biographical sketches of Scottish and Irish forebears whose lives helped shape Canadian ideas of independence, democracy, pluralism, audacity and perseverance.
The book harkens back to long-ago warriors such as Somerled of Argyll, a 12th century sea lord whose Celtic fleet ranged from Dublin to the Scottish Hebrides from the Isle of Man, and to democratic reformers such as Charles Stewart Parnell, who advocated a non-violent revolution in 19th century Ireland.
The stories skip back and forth across ages, but the book arcs from proud ideas of nationhood to more pluralist traditions that resonate with McGoogan’s own experience of growing up part Scottish, Irish and French in a town north of Montreal and being derided as one of the “maudits Anglais.”
With the same quick pace and gift for anecdote that he brought to the popular How the Scots Invented Canada, the book is a stew of Celtic ideas – varied, intriguing, and sure to launch readers into longer looks at some of the Scots and Irish figures they didn’t know, or thought they knew before.