Star Phoenix




A thriller full of ugly secrets

By Jenni Mortin, For The StarPhoenix March 14, 2015

Saskatoon author Anthony Bidulka is having fun with his second mystery series featuring Canadian Disaster Recovery Agency star Adam Saint. He is a thriller hero adept at all the things thriller heroes have to so easily do: he can plan, he can fight, he can shoot and he can make friends of people who will be useful.

Despite his looming death from a brain tumour, in The Women of Skawa Island Saint is pulled into a case involving a mysterious South Pacific island and four shipwreck survivors who demand help specifically from CDRA, which is charged with rescuing Canadians in danger anywhere in the world.

In the first Saint novel, he had left this glamorous and demanding job and returned to the family farm near Saskatoon to face his death and reconnect with his father, sister and nephew before it occurs. Only his father is ignorant of the imminent tragedy. Now, he has been unexpectedly offered a possible cure by his former boss, head of the International Intelligence Agency Canada branch that runs CDRA and one of the few people aware that he does not have a tumour. Maryann Knoble’s price for this possible cure – or killer – is handling the threat to the agency that may be associated with Skawa Island and its four survivors. It will take him from the island’s jungle to Scandinavia and New Orleans.

Saint lacks many of the tools he had when he was on the job. Instead, he has his sister Alexandra, who insists on accompanying him, and his geek nephew Anatole, whose computer expertise will be invaluable. But he does not know why CDRA bought this

isolated island and what was going on there.

Getting to the island, which is definitely not Bali Hai, will be only the beginning of the problems of this case. Finding and rescuing the four survivors of the shipwreck will be the easiest part of dealing with a place that sometimes reeks with evil. Saint gets the three emaciated women and the child off the island in the small plane he hired to get there (and hides them on his father’s farm), which means he and Alexandra are left to figure out its secrets.

There are plenty of those, and all ugly.

Bidulka has created an interesting thriller here with an imaginative plot and a smart and likable hero. His sexy sister is terrific and the two of them will owe their lives to the pilot’s attraction to her. Anatole is a computer king. The bureaucracy that is IIA and CFRA is a little harder to plumb, but the wicked witch Maryann Knoble is worth the price of the book all by herself.

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