Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul

Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul

A Novel

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
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Highly charged and profoundly important, Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul is a new masterpiece from one of Canada's greatest writers.
 
On a bright morning in June 1985, a young Micmac man starts his first day of work--but by noon he is dead, killed mysteriously in the fourth hold of the cargo ship Lutheran . Hector Penniac had been planning to go to university, perhaps to study medicine. Roger Savage, a loner who has had to make his own way since his youth, comes under suspicion of killing Hector over a union card and a morning's work. Even if he can't quite put it into words, Roger immediately sees the ways in which Hector's death will be viewed as symbolic, as more than an isolated tragedy--and that he is caught in a chain of events that will become more explosive with each passing day.
 
The aging chief of Hector's band, Amos Paul, tries to reduce the tensions raised by the investigation into Hector's death and its connection to a host of other simmering issues, from territorial lines to fishing rights. His approach leads him into conflict with Isaac Snow, a younger and more dynamic man whom many in the band would prefer to lead them--especially when the case attracts press attention in the form of an ambitious journalist named Max Doran, the first of many outsiders to bring his own agenda and motives onto the Micmac reserve. Joel Ginnish, Isaac's volatile and sometimes violent friend, decides to bring justice to Roger Savage when the authorities refuse to, blockading the reserve in order to do so. And though perhaps no one really means for it to happen, soon a single incident grows ineluctably into a crisis that engulfs a whole society, a whole province and in some ways a whole country.
 
Twenty years later, RCMP officer Markus Paul--Chief Amos Paul's grandson, who was fifteen years old when Hector was killed--tries to piece together the clues surrounding Hector Penniac's death. The decades have passed, and much about the case has been twisted beyond recognition by the many ways that different people have sought to exploit it. But, haunted by the past, Markus still struggles towards a truth that will snap "those chains that had once seemed impossible to break." (290)
 
This is a novel that begins with an instant from today's headlines, and digs down into the marrow to explore the oldest themes we know: murder and betrayal, race and history, the brutal and chaotic forces that guide the groups we are drawn into. Nothing is one-sided in David Adams Richards' world--even the most scheming characters have moments of grace, while the most benevolent are shown to have selfish motives, or the need to show off their goodness. All are depicted with an almost Biblical gravity, framed by an understated genius of storytelling that makes this novel at once both an utterly gripping mystery, and a vitally important document of Canada's broken past and divided present.

Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, c2011
ISBN: 9780385666534
Branch Call Number: RICH
Characteristics: 291 p. ; 24 cm

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m
mclarjh
May 30, 2017

A sort of mystery story.

u
uncommonreader
May 13, 2013

This is vintage Richards. The book is the slow solving of a riddle about events that occurred 20 years ago.

a
ambergrey100
Jan 20, 2013

Sad and haunting with what might have been. A continuation of The Lost Highway with one of the main characters ( Marcus Paul). Can't wait for another one.

e
elinpat
Apr 25, 2012

A rollicking good story about a death by accident in Burnt Church and the slow unravelling of the mystery of how he died. Was it an acident. Characters are mostly native.

Cdnbookworm Jan 18, 2012

Wow, can Richards ever write. This book moves back and forth between events in 1985 and 2006/7. In 1985 Markus Paul was a young man, living with his grandfather on the reserve. His grandfather Amos Paul was chief and Markus Paul was in love with a young woman Sky who lived nearby with her grandmother and younger brother, Little Joe.
When a young native man, Hector, is killed in what seems at first to be an accident his first day on the job loading ships rumours start, and soon fingers at pointed at another young white man, Roger Savage, who was waiting for a chance to work that day. This novel follows the search for what really happened to Hector, and what a number of people do as a result of his death. One of these is Amos, a careful man with a good heart. Another is Isaac, a middle-aged man who seemed destined to be chief one day. Another is Joel, Hector's older brother, who has often been in trouble with the law before. And we also have Roger himself, and a young reporter Max Doran, who is excited about the assignment to cover this story, but not experienced enough to see the pitfalls.
This is a book about how small actions have great outcomes, and these actions are laid out one by one before us, gradually revealing the truth and the politics, prejudice and beliefs that led to each action.
Years later Markus Paul is an RCMP officer still searching for the truth about what happened back in 1985, still haunted by it. When he finally discovers the truth, it is surprising and yet one can see how it all seemed inevitable. Richards is an author that seems to see into characters and show the complexities of them. A novel that will haunt you.

s
Sandee
Nov 08, 2011

A good read -- both as a mystery story and as a Canadian novel.

debwalker Mar 27, 2011

"A chilling, complicated account of the twisting of truth surrounding one man's death near Burnt Church, New Brunswick, in the mid-1980s, the book is trademark Richards: sharply detailed settings, a plot thick with intrigue and a soaring narrative arc that stirs the tensions simmering under the shell of a community - all make a fitting stage for the author's greatest accomplishments: his men."
Reviewed by Stephen Patrick Clare
Sharp April 2011

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