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FFB: Fool's Gold

Edward John "Ted" Wood was born in Sussex, England in 1931 and served in the RAF following the Second World War. In 1954 he emigrated to Canada and was a Toronto police officer for three years before switching to advertising and copyrighting. The dual law enforcement/writing experience prompted him to pen several published crime fiction (and non-genre) short stories and a teleplay.

His first novel was Dead in the Water in 1984, a police procedural that won the Scribner's Crime Novel Award and was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel. It was the first of what became a series featuring policeman Reid Bennett, an ex-marine and Vietnam vet, who relocated to the small fictional Canadian resort town of Murphy's Harbour after he took a bad rap for murdering two guys to prevent a rape. He's aided by his trusty German Shepherd, Sam, who serves as companion and protector.

In Fool's Gold, the fourth novel in the series (also nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award), gold found in the mountains of Canada prompts a sudden influx of prospectors, chopper pilots, construction workers and drifters, all hoping to get rich quick. It also brings the dead body of geologist Jim Prudhomme, who's found mauled beyond recognition presumably by a bear, even though bear attacks in that area are rare. But the mystery increases when a witness claims to have seen Prudhomme days after the murder, and then Prudhomme turns up dead for real. As Bennett digs deeper, he doesn't discover gold but rather a plot to defraud the gold mine. With the help of the local police chief out for one last big case and a beautiful motel keeper with secrets of her own, Bennett races to get to the bottom of the scheme, dodging blackmailers, vengeful miners, and a mounting body count.
A tendency to skirt the rules makes Bennett take chances that aren't always credible, but Woods' plots are known for their many twists and turns, and also witty dialogue and elements of suspense. Fans of the series are particularly fond of Sam, who Publisher's Weekly described as "…a multi-talented utility infielder who can 'keep,' 'track,' 'seek,' 'fight,' 'guard,' sniff out cocaine and corpses, save lives and generally pinch-hit for a dozen patrolmen."

Woods went on to write 10 Bennett novels in all (from 1984 to 1995) and three novels featuring private eye John Locke from 1986 to 1991 (written under the pen name Jack Barnao). Woods also also served as president of the Crime Writers of  Canada from 1987 to 1988.


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FFB: Fool's Gold


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