Written by Genevieve Graham
Review by Jon G. Bradley

Canadian author Graham has penned a detailed and powerful social journey steeped in Canadian history that weaves together two narratives separated by decades. In the first, the reader meets survivors of the Great War—damaged physically and/or emotionally—and all attempting to reestablish a life back in Canada. The other is a more contemporary tale concerning museum curator Cassis Simmons as she deals with her own hidden personal ghosts.

Two brothers (the Baileys) return home in 1919, not to a hero’s welcome and family happy at their survival, but struck with the reality that both parents have recently died of the Spanish flu. Finding life goals in a changing society proves challenging, and they slowly move into the illegal whisky business as a means of simple survival. Similarly, former nurse Adele Savard, who saw front-line action, also needs to adjust to a new life. Her own prospects take a sharp turn when she meets former soldier Jeremiah Bailey, whom she had treated in France near the end of the war.

Graham juxtaposes the past and present in two parallel narratives rather than a straight-forward chronological timeline. Therefore, the reader is often jolted over decades as the journey shifts. Nonetheless, the details describing basic life issues, interpersonal contacts, and societal norms, as well as the realities of the times, are graphically illustrated.

What do old whisky bottles hidden in a false wall, a long-forgotten, caved-in tunnel with its buried bones, and a family homestead renovation all have in common? Indeed, as the mysteries unravel and coalesce, it is possible that a buried liquor hoard and a decades-old murder may foreshadow a happier future for our two modern protagonists.