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Celebrity entries: Anthony Bidulka and Vicki Delany

The Page Turner Challenge is on until May 22! We are looking for you to write the opening scene of a crime or mystery story (in 250 words or less). We'll post some of our favourites on the Canada Writes site. The winner of the most compelling scene (as selected by Louise Penny) will win an iPad.

To help us get started, we asked several Crime Writers of Canada members to provide us with some great examples. Let's see how some of the pros do it...

Excerpt from When The Saints Go Marching In
the first Adam Saint Novel
By Anthony Bidulka

Geoffrey Krazinski stepped over the charred limbs as if they were nothing more than grey, gnarled branches, littering the ground of a dying forest. When he’d first arrived, less than an hour ago, he was alarmed to see smoke, unfurling like gauze from the arms and legs and other body parts strewn haphazardly across the ruddy field. When finally he found someone who could speak one of the four languages he understood, it was explained to him that it wasn’t smoke, but rather the lingering condensation of something once hot meeting cold. The fog of death. Simple science. But there was nothing simple about what was happening here today.  

He spotted the body he was interested in, marked with a crimson “X”, long before he reached it. Instead of scurrying forward, Krazinski found himself dragging his feet. It wasn’t that he was afraid of witnessing death. As a Disaster Recovery Agent he’d seen plenty of it before. No, it was the confirmation of this particular death he wasn’t looking forward to. For once he made a positive identification, each word he uttered, each decision he made, each lie he told, would leave an indelible, immutable tattoo on his career.

Although irrevocably altered in grim repose, the blank-eyed face was familiar to him. Krazinski shook his head, and muttered an epithet under his breath. 

The pronouncement could now be made, and flags across a grieving Canada would fly at half-mast. 

Anthony Bidulka’s mystery series tells the story of a world-travelling, wine-swilling, wise-cracking, gay, Canadian PI living a big life in a small city. Only parts are autobiographical. The Russell Quant series is a multi-award nominee including for the CWC Arthur Ellis Award, and was awarded the Lambda Literary Award for Best Men’s Mystery. Visit Anthony at www.anthonybidulka.com


Excerpt from More than Sorrow 
By Vicki Delany

They tell me it was an IED hidden in a truck full of goats going to market, pulled off to the side of the road with an apparent flat tire. 

But of that I have no memory. 

I rubbed small pebbles between my fingers. The sun burned hot on the scarf on my head and dust was thick in my mouth. A goat cried out—no, not a goat. A chicken. Not crying in fear or pain but clucking with hungry impatience. 

I opened my eyes and studied the objects in my hand. Not stones, but chickenfeed. On my head was a Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap, not a scarf, and the land around me was lush and green and fertile, not brown and destroyed. 

The bird stared at me. Tiny black eyes in front of a tiny brain. Only a chicken. A white rock hen pecking for worms and bugs in a patch of weeds and over-grown grasses in a farmyard in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Memory flooded back, and I knew where I was. I threw a handful of grain onto the ground. Chickens rushed to feed. 

A pair of heavy yellow work gloves was kept on a nail by the door, and I slipped them on in case one of the birds had remained behind to defend her eggs. They didn’t want me stealing their offspring out from underneath them and used their sharp beaks to fight me off.    

Isn’t that what mothers do? Protect their children?

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers. She lives in lives Prince Edward County, Ontario. Her work includes standalone novels of suspense, the Smith & Winters police procedural series set in the British Columbia Interior, and the light-hearted Klondike Gold Rush Series. Her latest book, More than Sorrow, will be published this fall by Poisoned Pen Press. Visit Vicki at www.vickidelany.com

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