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More About This Title Poplar Falls
The small city of Poplar Falls is abuzz with gossip after a body is found in a bachelor apartment. The body is tied to a four post bed with a pillow still on its face, an obvious victim of a bizarre murder. While Detectives Franklin Dodge and Roxanne Tilley investigate the strange circumstances surrounding the death of the promiscuous new guy in town named Charlie Baker, a client of the Magnolia Wellness and Rehabilitation Centre; new evidence also arises in an unsolved case. A case whose perpetrator the locals refer to as the Panty Bandit, the pilferer of women’s undergarments. With a long list of suspects for a murder and new developments in what they were considering a cold case, the biggest challenge they face is the race against the constant gossip being spread through town by the group who refer to themselves as the Naughty Knitters. With the help of these ladies, stories spread like wildfire as people debate which of Charlie Baker’s lovers is the one guilty of murder.
Pierre C Arseneault, the youngest of eleven children and grew up in the small town of Rogersville, New Brunswick, Canada. He fulfilled a childhood goal in 2004 and became a published cartoonist. His first published work of fiction was in 2013; a collection of short stories called Dark Tales for Dark Nights; written in collaboration with Angella Cormier. This was followed up by Sleepless Nights, a collection of short stories published in 2014. His novel, Oakwood Island, also co-written with Angella Cormier, was published in 2016 and has been named finalist for several awards.
Murder in a small town is at the heart of this novel, which combines a mystery with a police procedural and is frequently played for laughs. The local Lothario has been snuffed—apparently in mid-escapade—and there appears to be no shortage of potential perpetrators. As multiple suspects are brought to light, so too are the sexual proclivities of many of the hamlet’s randy inhabitants.
The case is worked by Dodge, an older detective experienced in homicide but relatively new to the town itself. His partner, Tilley, is a younger woman born and raised in the community. In addition to the former’s expertise and the latter’s insight, they are aided in their hunt for the killer by hours and hours of bawdy videotape the victim captured without the knowledge of his various paramours. During the course of their investigation, secrets are spilled about philandering wives, a gay butcher, an alcoholic administrator, a law officer who’s actually a porn addict, a mentally challenged recycler, and even a little old ladies' knitting club that masks a more prurient pursuit.
Arseneault is a clever storyteller who fills his tale with subplots that diverge and frequently intersect as his narrative unwinds. Characters are drawn broadly. Their dialogue and deeds are presented consistently, which makes their motivations easy to understand and accept. While questionable behavior is rampant, the author successfully avoids moral judgments and often laces his prose with tongue-in-cheek quips. This is a relatively lighthearted take on some dark goings-on. As is often the case in this genre, don’t be surprised if you think you’ve put the mystery to bed only to find there are more shoes under it than you realized.- - US Review of Books