Chapman’s latest mystery features Ottawa and familiar characters

Fatal Harvest by Brenda Chapman


Review by Barbara McIsaac


Fatal Harvest is the third installment of Ottawa author Brenda Chapman’s series featuring true crime podcaster Ella Tait and police detective Liam Hunter.

Like the earlier books (Blind Date and When Last Seen), the action takes place in Ottawa and environs. It starts with the double murder of a couple on a farm just outside the nearby town of Ashton. Yes, that Ashton. The one with the Brewpub and the beer. Hunter is called in to lead the investigation into the murders. There is no apparent motive and no apparent suspect. In addition to working to solve the murders, everyone is understandably concerned about 11-year-old Matt Clark who was staying with the murdered couple and is now missing. Matt was staying there for the summer while his parents worked out their separation, but all is not as it seems. Matt does not know how to reach his mother. He was told to stay off social media, and nobody seems to know much about him. Only his neighbour and friend, Jimmy, seems to have had a connection with him.

Finally, Hunter and his team locate Matt and believe they have the murders solved. But, once again, things are not what they seem, and Chapman delivers her trademark twist. You think you know what is going on. But you don’t.

As with the earlier books in this series, the plotting is strong and the character development consistent. We meet up again with some of the characters from the previous books: Ella’s neighbour, Tony; her childhood friend, Finn; Hunter’s sister and her boys; his partner, Detective Rosie Thorburn; and Rosie’s nemesis, Detective Auger. As a side issue, there are ongoing conflicts in the Homicide and Major Crimes unit of the Ottawa Police Department. Rosie, who is a compelling character herself, must deal with her own insecurities, her recovery from an earlier work-related traumatic experience and the misogyny and outright hostility of Auger as he tries to undermine her.

The murders might be solved by the end of the book, but there are some outstanding issues which we hope means a fourth book is in the works. Will the working relationship between Hunter and Tate develop into something more? Will Rosie find her way as a detective? Will Auger receive his comeuppance?

As with many series featuring the same characters, it helps to read the books in order. Although Chapman’s books are stand alone in that they each feature a new set of circumstances and a new mystery to solve, reading the first two books will help the reader understand and appreciate the character development. Indeed, even though I have read and thoroughly enjoyed the two earlier Hunter and Tate books, I found myself a bit confused and uncertain when being reintroduced to some of the repeat characters. A little more background, while perhaps repetitive, would have been helpful.

Fatal Harvest is scheduled for release on April 15.


Barbara McIsaac has been a fan of Brenda Chapman’s writing for years and has read all her previous books.

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