June 6, 2020

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Siblings' exploits mine a range of emotions

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/3/2018 (811 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Vancouver-born writer Tyler Keevil’s new novel is a humorous and surprisingly touching story about two adult brothers on a criminal misadventure along the West Coast of Canada and the United States.

The story is told from the point of view of Tim Harding, the older of the two, who works as a deckhand on a fishing boat in Vancouver. He’s a hard worker who does a good job, despite one of his hands being badly damaged on the job, and the family he works for treats him as one of their own.

As fishing season draws to a close, Tim makes plans to take a short vacation with his boss, Albert, and his family, including the daughter with whom he has a flirtatious, potentially romantic relationship.

Enter Jake, the younger brother Tim hasn’t seen since they had a fight at Christmas. Jake shows up at Tim’s workplace wanting to reconnect, but Tim is suspicious — as is Albert, who clearly dislikes Jake and whose sentiment supplies the book’s title.

Unable to say no to his only living sibling, Tim shrugs off his responsibilities to go drinking with Jake. As he expects, his ex-convict brother wants more than just a night on the town. He needs a favour to help repay a debt to the Delaney gang, former childhood acquaintances turned criminals who protected him in prison.

The early chapters in Vancouver have a gritty feel, definitely exhibiting the city’s seedier side. They also explore the tragic family history that brought Tim and Jake to where they are, particularly the death of their only sister.

But as the story moves forward, what starts off as bleak and ominous slowly takes an almost slapstick comedy turn.

Tim learns their task is to steal a horse — something they are completely ill-equipped to do — and transport it across the border to a ranch near Olympia, Wash. Between the brothers’ own incompetence, unfulfilled promises from the gang’s sources and an overall a string of bad luck, they soon find themselves unlikely outlaws on a journey on land, sea and even social media.

Quite funny at times, the novel takes another shift in tone as the brothers reconnect in some unexpected ways.

No Good Brother is an enjoyable read that goes in some very different directions than initially expected. But its greatest strength is the author’s strongly developed, down-to-earth characters.

Tim and Jake are more than just the good and bad brother, and are both relatable in their own ways. By the end, you’ll want the best for them both, just as they ultimately do for each other.

Keevil, who now lives in Wales, dedicated this, his fourth book, to his own brother.

Alan MacKenzie is a Winnipeg-based writer and

communications specialist.

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