September 21, 2019

Cayman featured in Vancouver author’s debut thriller

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Book review: Vancouver author’s debut thriller full of 007 echoes

By Tom Sandborn From Canada.com

Investing in Murder

By E.J. Lister (LEO Publishing, Vancouver 2018)

$12.99 | 341pp

The cover art on E.J. Lister’s new thriller echoes the visual style of James Bond movies: A luxury yacht rides uneasily beneath dark storm clouds. Below, in black, is a stylized image of a scuba diver.

A reader old enough to remember when Ian Fleming’s series of high violence, high-end consumerism hit paperbacks and films might open the book expecting to hear the opening chords of the movie theme music.

Lister, a Vancouver business writer, has clearly made a decision to diversify his portfolio from the management theory books he has previously published. Investing in Murder is the first in what the author intends to be a continuing series. (A second title, Eye of the Storm, featuring the same implausibly attractive and athletic protagonist — Jayson L. Riley — has also been published.)

The plot turns on a series of grisly murders. Riley, an immensely wealthy investment adviser and scion of a plutocratic family, is a suspect. He has to escape police attention and get to the Grand Cayman Islands to clear his name by identifying the real killer. Along the way, he meets and beds a stunningly beautiful private investigator.

If the summary leaves you with a sense of déjà vu, you are not mistaken. Lister has packed this debut thriller with plot devices and characters reminiscent of many earlier thrillers. The image of the unjustly accused protagonist who must break all the rules to clear his name is familiar and, like Bond and many other action genre heroes, Riley is more branded than characterized. (See, for example, on the author’s website, this description of the hero: “36; 6’1”; 185 lbs.; fit, ruggedly handsome, and equally stylish in khakis and flip flops as he is in Brioni and Prada. Sunglasses of choice: Ray-Ban Aviator Original.”) Think Sam Spade meets Thorstein Veblen. Consumption has never been more conspicuous

Granted, no one will ever mistake the series for the work of a new Dostoyevsky. Lister is not going for depth psychology or literary innovation here, but he has produced a perfectly competent thriller that will no doubt find an appreciative audience. Many readers, like this reviewer, will like the fact that one of the villains is an aspiring mystery author.

If you are looking for a relaxing summer read, this book should be in your beach bag.• Tom Sandborn lives and writes in Vancouver. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at tos65@telus.net

For more on this story go to: https://beta.canada.com/entertainment/books/book-review-vancouver-authors-debut-thriller-full-of-007-echoes/wcm/20f9f5be-6b01-4eb0-9e18-5f13f42b9636/amp/

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