The Calling Review
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The small town of Port Dundas, Ontario, doesn’t see a whole lot of action—just some parking violations and the occasional loiterer. But sixty-one-year-old Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef isn’t complaining. As she nears retirement, Hazel’s ever-increasing back pain and her feisty roommate (Hazel’s octogenarian mother, Emily—the former mayor) are more than enough to deal with. But then Delia Chandler’s death changes everything.

Delia Chandler was brutally murdered in her home. It’s the first murder that Port Dundas has seen in years—and with a killer somewhere on the loose, the town’s in a panic. But just as Hazel’s struggling to put the pieces together, a similar murder takes place in another small town, not too far away. Now, instead of just one murder, Hazel’s investigating two—and she fears that they haven’t seen the end (or the beginning, for that matter) of this cruel killer’s crime spree.

The Calling is a haunting read that’s heavy with suspense. It’s not a mystery, really, as much as it’s a manhunt that eventually turns into a game of cat and mouse. At times, Wolfe (which is actually the pseudonym for a mysterious “North American literary novelist”) paints gruesome pictures of horrifying murders—but, really, The Calling is more about the characters than about the murders. On one hand, there’s Hazel, the small-town detective who’s determined to hunt down her serial killer—even if it means going behind the backs of her superiors. On the other hand, there’s a mysterious man named Simon, a killer who believes he’s on an important mission.

Hazel definitely isn’t your typical mystery novel detective. She’s not a tough young man from some big-city police department; she’s a tired, aging woman from a tiny town—but don’t think that that makes her just a sweet little old lady. Hazel’s a tough character in her own way. She’s devoted her life to the job—even though it cost Hazel her husband of almost 40 years. She’s not always the nicest of bosses. And she’s known to drink much more than she should. She’s an interesting character—but it takes a while to really warm up to her.

Like its main character, The Calling isn’t instantly alluring. It isn’t a fast-paced read. Instead, the story fits with its small-town setting—and, especially in the beginning, its pace is casual and laid-back (which fits with the author’s literary background). It takes a while before the story really gains its momentum—but it does eventually build, increasing in speed as it does, until it comes to a haunting conclusion.

The Calling isn’t for those who prefer their mysteries fast-paced and thrilling. But if you can appreciate a chilling (and more literary) story that taunts—and haunts—its readers, The Calling is worth picking up.

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