Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A dangerous liaison

  • Print

The Gifted is the 14th novel Regina writer Gail Bowen has delivered to fans of mystery and detective fiction, and it does not disappoint. This novel offers all the reliable Bowen virtues -- deftly drawn characters, unusual twists and turns of plot, plenty of authentic details about contemporary Canadian life, and, of course, the irrepressible and genteel upper-middle class sleuth, Joanne Kilbourn.

The Gifted can fairly be said to confirm Bowen's growing reputation as "the queen of Canadian crime fiction."

Bowen's mantelpiece groans with awards and tributes: Deadly Appearances (1990) was a nominee for W.H. Smith's best first novel award; A Colder Kind of Death (1995) won the coveted Arthur Ellis award for best crime novel. Readers Digest named her best mystery novelist in 2008, and the Crime Writers of Canada saluted her with the Derrick Murdoch Award in 2009.

Joanne and her husband, Zack Shreve, a quadriplegic and brilliant litigator, are an established power couple in Regina society. They are wealthy and enthusiastic young grandparents who are also raising Taylor, the teenage daughter of Sally Love, a now dead but celebrated painter.

As this latest novel unfolds, Taylor is revealing that she may be as brilliant an artist as her mother. Joanne and Zack are concerned and watchful, hoping that Taylor does not share her mother's mercurial and promiscuous nature as well, one which complicated the former's art and compromised her happiness.

Problems quickly emerge when Taylor offers a stunning nude portrait of a beautiful young man named Julian for sale at a charity auction.

Taylor's portrait, BlueBoy 21, is a daring re-interpretation of Gainsborough's Blue Boy (1770), one of art history's most famous works.

Unfortunately, we learn that Julian just happens to be the paid lover of a prominent and married socialite, who of course, moves in the same elite circle as Jo and her husband.

That hot and dangerous liaison provides Bowen with an opportunity to experiment with a new dimension in the Kilbourn series. While her leading lady has always been romantically involved and, most recently, deeply in love with her husband, The Gifted ventures into scenes of explicit sexuality not present in previous books.

By the time the unfaithful married socialite is found dead in her home, the victim of both blackmail and a fatal blow to the head, a long list of possible killers has collected: the murderer could well have been Julian, trying to escape her embrace; it could have been her heartbroken husband; her emotionally unbalanced and jealous stepdaughter, or even Riel, the addicted-to-drugs partner of Joanne's lovely daughter Mieka.

Thanks to Bowen's gift for nuance in the creation of characters, the identity of the real killer comes as the kind of shock that crime readers live for.

Before that revelation, however, a second death, more poignant than the first, will occur.

There's something for everyone here, as The Gifted brings together Regina's world of artists, lawyers, politicians, the young and vulnerable, the city's upper crust and its emerging importance as a centre of aboriginal activism.

There is also a nod to today's high-tech dangers -- any transgression, we are shown, even the most intimate, can end up entertaining others on their cellphones or computers.

The Gifted will prove a popular read, and will undoubtedly invite a fresh wave of new readers into the wonderfully crafted world of Gail Bowen's mystery fiction.


Lesley Hughes is a Winnipeg-based writer and broadcaster.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2013 A1


Updated on Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 10:14 PM CDT: Tweaks formatting.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Lawless in the Morning: Former NHLer Jeff O'Neill, Montreal Canadiens and help for the Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Weather standup. Sundog. Refraction of light through ice crystals which caused both the sun dog and and fog along McPhillips Road early Wednesday morning. 071205.

View More Gallery Photos


Are you in favour of relocating Winnipeg's rail yards and lines?

View Results

Ads by Google