Put on the Armour of Light

Written by Catherine MacDonald
Review by Joanne Dobson

The Reverend Charles Lauchlan, a Presbyterian minister in turn-of-the-20th-century Winnipeg, Manitoba, is galvanized into detection by the arrest of his former university roommate, Peter McEvoy. Pete, an alcoholic, is suspected of homicide after having been found dead-drunk with the body of Joseph Asseltine in the businessman’s office. The young minister, convinced of his friend’s innocence, wields his ministerial training, plus every advantage of his position in the church and in the city, to investigate the crime.

This novel offers a vision of a Winnipeg in transition from a brawling frontier town to a civilized 20th-century city, along with an equally charming set of characters: the earnest Charles, Maggie, his friend (or is she a girlfriend?); the Métis policeman, Sergeant Setter, and the pioneering photographer, Rosetta Cliffe. I wished the author had a better grasp on narrative structure. Lauchlan wasn’t introduced until the third chapter, and I was confused, thinking the protagonist would be Setter and/or Cliffe (who would have been bolder choices); the investigation meandered; and what could have been a knock-out final confrontation scene was cut so short it lacked the chills it deserved. Nonetheless, I enjoyed being in that place and that time, and it’s a book well worth reading.