Chief Justice retires to write fast-paced murder mystery

Full Disclosure,
by Beverley McLachlin
Review by Clyde Sanger

It seems to be accepted that every United States president will author a book on his retirement to (shall we say?) explain certain matters and that they are listed as non-fiction during their brief perch on the bestseller list. Recently some have taken more whole-heartedly to fiction and Bill Clinton has clung to the heights for these summer months with The President is Missing. The best outcome for some readers has been the scorching reviews aiming at his linking up with James Patterson whose own world sales top 375 million copies. Anthony Lane wrote the most brilliantly hilarious review in The New Yorker on June 18.

Meanwhile, according to BookNet Canada’s tracking, a really splendid novel by the woman who for 17 years was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada had a brief appearance halfway up the list of Canadian fiction. Never mind. Someone who grew up in Pincher’s Creek, Alberta in a log-house built by her rancher father and became the most outstanding chief justice that Canada may boast, can smile at life’s ups and downs.

The narrator in her courtroom drama is Jilly Truitt, a young Vancouver lawyer who has been asked to take on the defence of Vincent Trussardi, a rich businessman on trial for the gruesome murder of his elegant wife. She is up against Cy Kenge, a tough-as-nails prosecutor who had been Jilly’s mentor but doesn’t hold back on pressing every advantage.

It seems a clear case: Laura Trussardi was shot point-blank five times in her bed. Vincent has told police he was out sailing but has no witness. Several friends caution Jilly to back out and, another disincentive, her boyfriend Mike happens to be cousin to the victim. Vincent himself is hard for her to fathom or to like. Despite all advice, she persists.

Why does she persist; to lose while performing well in a high-profile case? Hardly. She has already won an acquittal for Damon, a youngster who killed a drug dealer. Laura was doing drugs herself and having an affair with an architect who has access to the mansion. And with a divided household there are just enough plausible suspects around. And in addition, there’s a surprise at the end.

This is old stuff for readers of murder mysteries. What kept me reading to several midnights was McLachlin’s skilful pace in changing scenes – there are 59 short chapters – and the lively dialogue with Jilly’s own reactions sprinkled in by use of italics. Very soon you are inside her skin and mind, and drawn in by Trussardi’s puzzling character.

It is a distance away from Beverley McLachlin’s own legal stairway as she was never a criminal lawyer. So more praise to her in speeding into a second career with such flair at 74. She has said she wanted from childhood to be a fiction writer. Why don’t we all have that courage?

Clyde Sanger is a journalist, author and poet, and is a longtime Glebe resident who now lives in Old Ottawa South.


Full Disclosure, a novel, by Beverley McLachlin.
Toronto, Simon &Schuster, 2018.
341 pages


Starting school

by Sylvie Chartrand

The first day of school is just around the corner. How can you prepare your toddler to be ready? It can be exciting for some but traumatic for others. It is also hard for parents to adjust to the idea that it is time to let their children enter a new phase in their lives. Library books can help you prepare your child to enjoy it.

Reading stories together will help your child develop vocabulary as well as listening and speaking skills. You can read different types of books: picture books, nursery rhymes, poetry and true stories. Encourage your child to talk about the pictures and stories while reading; make a game of it by having them point at numbers, letters or images. It’s important for the child to have fun while reading. The single most important factor in your child’s success with reading is your reading aloud to them, especially during preschool years.

The Ottawa Public Library has a large selection of fiction and non-fiction titles that can be found at The library also has online resources to help children learn by playing games. The Library has created a Kids’ Zone, an amazing resource available in both English and French with a section for parents on resources to encourage literacy and language, get homework help, find community resources, learn French children’s songs and prepare your child for reading. The e-book platform TumbleBook Library is a collection of online books created by adding animation, sound, music and narration to existing picture books from major children’s book publishers.

Here are some suggestions of books you can read with your child:

Chu’s First Day of School
By Neil Gaiman, 
illustrated by Adam Rex

Chu, first introduced in Chu’s Day, is back in this delightful picture book by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Adam Rex. Chu is an adorable panda with a great big uncontrollable sneeze, who is heading off for his first day of school and he is nervous, wondering if the other kids will like him. The story will amuse children ages 2 to 6. It will also reassure children worried about starting school as they laugh at Chu’s experiences on the first day.

The Berenstain Bears Go to School
By Stan and Jan Berenstain

This classic book teaches kids how much fun school can be. Brother Bear is looking forward to going back to school but Sister Bear is worried about what it will be like. To reassure her, her mother takes her to visit her classroom and meet her teacher, Miss Honeybear, before school starts. But Sister Bear still wonders if she will make friends and what she will do all day. On her first day, she is scared but enjoys painting, playing, and reading stories. She meets new friends and by the end of the day she is glad to be in kindergarten. There is a whole Berenstain Bear series dealing with different subjects relatable for kids.

Timothy Goes To School
By Rosemary Wells

This book deals with friendship. Timothy is excited about starting school until he meets Claude, who sits next to him in the classroom. Claude wears all the right clothes, says all the right things and is making many new friends. Timothy is feeling down until he meets Violet, a girl who is having the same problem with Grace, the girl who sits next to her. Kids are sure to relate to this book.


Monkey Not Ready for Kindergarten
By Marc Brown

Marc Brown is also the author of the beloved Arthur books and TV show. This is the first title in a new series about Monkey, a youngster who views new experiences with trepidation but has a loving family that helps him cope. Kindergarten is just a week away and Monkey’s parents and brother try to prepare him by reading books about kindergarten, pretending to be at school and practicing counting and the alphabet. He gets a new lunch box and sneakers and has a playdate with kids in his class. Then it’s the big day – Monkey goes to school and everything is wonderful.

Wemberly Worried
By Kevin Henkes

Wemberly the mouse worries about everything – big things, little things, and now a new worry: school. Her family tries telling her not to worry. On her first day of school, Mrs. Peachum, the teacher, introduces Kimberley to Jewel and they become fast friends.

Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School
By Herman Parish, 
illustrated by Lynne Avril

Amelia Bedelia is excited about going to school but takes everything literally and causes comical misunderstandings. From the start Amelia gets it wrong when Mrs. O’Malley says, “I teach gym” and Amelia says, “I am not Jim.” From there it’s one misunderstanding after another, ending with the teacher telling Amelia to glue herself to her chair.

Je rentre  à l’école
Par Céline Claire 
et Emma Schmid

C’est la première journée d’école et Sacha compare ce qu’il fait à la maison et à l’école. Il se rend compte que c’est un peu différent mais quand même bien. C’est une jolie histoire sous forme de comptine avec des belles illustrations qui rassure votre enfant pour la rentrée à l’école.

Sylvie Chartrand is children’s program and public service assistant at the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

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