In its final Beach Reads segment, The Sunday Edition looked at the importance of location in a story, and how some authors make towns and cities more than just backdrops --
sometimes they become characters themselves. In Charles Dickens' hands, 19th-century London was as memorable as his protagonists Pip or Scrooge. Would Stieg Larsson's bestselling Millennium trilogy have been as thrilling without the cityscape of Stockholm to play against? Would Harry Potter be Harry Potter without Hogwarts? The list goes on and on.
Mystery writers Scott Thornley and John Lawrence Reynolds are certainly inspired by where they grew up, which is near Hamilton, Ontario. The city provides the setting and inspiration for many of their works, even if it's not named explicitly.
"I think we can all agree that the three elements of any good story are plot, character and setting, and in mystery novels sometimes setting gets short shrift," Reynolds said. "I was interested in setting Beach Strip
in Hamilton primarily because I needed a unique place, someplace the reader had not encountered before, so it would be new to him or her. And I've said with my tongue not too far into my cheek that the two least explored regions of Canada are Baffin Island and downtown Hamilton."
For Thornley, the city and its legacy of steel mills, mob history and wealthy and working class neighbourhoods give his stories a unique "rough and tumble" setting.
"[It] was the original home for the working immigrants that had gangs galore of various stripes --
Polish, Irish, Italian, on and on. That whole city has grown up as a microcosm of how to live together, and how to live apart."
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