The Next Chapter

Thomas King returns to mysteries with the latest Thumps DreadfulWater novel

The award-winning author discusses his latest book, the mystery Cold Skies, and why he hates bottled water.
Thomas King is the author of several books, including the mystery novel Cold Skies. (Trina Koster/HarperCollins Canada)

Award-winning author Thomas King has returned to the mystery novel with Cold Skies, the third DreadfulWater mystery.

Ex-cop Thumps DreadfulWater is living a quiet life in the small town of Chinook. But DreafulWater is called back to action when a body turns up —​ and he finds himself immersed in a mystery surrounding a major water conference happening in town. 

Life in a small town 

"In the very first DreadfulWater book, there's a horrendous series of murders that takes place on the California coast. Two of the people who were killed are a lover and her young child  — and this event destroys him. He packs everything into his car, quits being a cop and starts driving east. He gets to the small town of Chinook, where his car breaks down. He's stuck there for a while and decides to try his hand as a fine art photographer."

Water, water everywhere

"Water has always been a major concern of mine. I go nuts with the bottled water companies that keep sticking their straws down into aquifers in Canada and the U.S., suck us dry and then sell it back to us in plastic bottles. I don't know why we haven't stopped that dead in its tracks years ago. I've got a big interest in aquifers and freshwater and what we do with that  — how we maintain as a human right rather than allow it to become a commodity to be bought and sold."

A mystery is afoot

"I travel around a lot in real life. I've always thought to myself: What if I went out to the parking lot and opened my car door and there was a body there? What would I do? It's something this book explores."

Thomas King's comments have been edited for length and clarity.