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Sam Wiebe is one of the leading voices of Canadian hard boiled fiction today. His Vancouver PI Dave Wakeland takes on cases that not only put his life, but often having him ask bigger question in today's society than just whoddunit. His latest, Sunset And Jericho, has him trying to find the missing brother of the city's mayor as well as the gun taken off a transit cop. Both cases lead to a group of criminals out to rock the corrupt state. Sam was kind enough to talk about the book and his writing.

SCOTT MONTGOMERY: While you've never shied away from the grimmer aspects in your books, this is possibly your darkest book. How aware were you of that while writing it?

SAM WIEBE: I don’t know if it’s the darkest—Hell and Gone starts with a pretty violent robbery! But Sunset and Jericho has a different kind of slow-burning darkness, as does Wakeland at this point in his life, isolated and unsure of his place in the world. The book is a turning point for him, and the series.

S.M. : The gulf between the haves and have nots plays a large part in the book. What did you want to explore in that?

S.W. : Widespread compassion fatigue, politicians and people on the streets talking past one another, and a simmering rage at the indifference of the wealthy. The crimes in Sunset and Jericho are spawned from that.

As Wakeland strives to uncover the group responsible for the killings, he finds he has more in common with the killers than he does with his wealthy clients. Violence isn’t something he can sanction…but what if someone close to him does?

S.M. : You use the concept of the PI working two cases in the book. How did that assist you in the story you wanted to tell?

S.W. : Sunset and Jericho has a lot of doubles—two murders on different beaches on the same night, one victim a very rich man, the other poor.

Wakeland turns down a chance to work for the mayor finding her missing ne’er-do-well brother, only to stumble upon him while chasing down a firearm. What he finds is a group of people willing to use violence to hold the wealthy accountable. That violence and its consequences are inescapable.

S.M. : You bring in Ryan Martz into Dave's PI firm. Not the warmest character. What was your aim by bringing him in?

S.W. : In the previous books Martz was Wakeland’s police contact, and sometime antagonist. But Ryan is now injured and in the throes of despair.

Each needs the other. Ryan Martz needs a sense of purpose and distraction, which work can sometimes provide. And Wakeland needs all the help he can get.

S.M. : I think most of us in the U.S. have a quaint view of Canada and that it would be difficult to set hard boiled tales there. You have definitely proved that wrong. What do you want to express about Vancouver in your work, particularly to non residents?

S.W. : Ian Rankin said something about crime novels making the best tour guides, because you get to see what a city is really like. Vancouver is the city I write best about. Like Edinburgh or LA, it’s a place with public and private faces. The locals live in a different city, one with escalating real estate prices, an overdose crisis, and a sense of desperation. In that regard it’s a city like any other.

S.M. : As a writer, what makes Dave Wakeland a character worth coming back to?

S.W. : I love the PI story, its traditions and tropes. From Marlowe to Kinsey Milhone to Easy Rawlins, it’s the genre that best combines entertainment and a sense of city life.

Dave Wakeland is of that tradition, but a contemporary and younger version dealing with the problems of the modern world.

Sunset and Jericho is a well-told detective tale. Beyond that, I hope it gives a sense of what life’s like in these very strange times.


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