Shallow End by Brenda Chapman is the latest in the Stonechild & Rouleau series set in Kingston, Ontario. Chapman's previous plots have taken inspiration from current problems that beset society, and Shallow End is no different. Chapman, a former special education teacher, was at a special development day when a young teacher told about false accusations against him by two young women. Although the girls eventually confessed that they were lying, the damage to the man's life and marriage was incalculable.
Child predators can be found in churches and schools and sports training, and in recent years, the predators have frequently been women. Accusations of sexual predation are hard to refute, and even if proven false, the repercussions for everyone involved can be devastating. The story that Chapman heard that day simmered in her brain until she formulated the plot that became Shallow End.
Jane Thompson, admired teacher and loving mother is accused of a sexual relationship with one of her twelve-year-old students. The evidence appears solid, but Jane refuses to confess, and is sentenced to prison. A year into her sentence, however, Jane confesses and agrees to therapy, earning a year off her original sentence.
Shortly after Jane returns to Kingston and a much diminished life, Devon Eton is found murdered. Jane's husband has already been denying Jane's visits with her children and now refuses any contact between Jane and her children until the person who killed Devon is arrested. Of course, Jane is the suspect who comes immediately to most minds.
In addition to the major story line, Kala Stonechild is dealing with her own grief and frustration over her niece Dawn, who has been taken from Kala and placed in foster care. Paul Gunderson continues to cope with Fiona, his manipulative estranged wife. Rouleau has his own grief over his ex-wife's death. Woodhouse remains the cunning, misogynistic, and vindictive presence that keeps Rouleau's team at odds.
While it isn't necessary to have read the previous books in the series, the characters and their overarching stories are part of the appeal for me.
Cold Mourning, Butterfly Kills, and Tumbled Graves are the first three books in this outstanding series. (links are to my reviews)
If you have a chance to read this series, take it!
Read in Dec.; blog post scheduled for Feb. 12, 2017.
Police Procedural. March 11, 2017. Print length: 384 pages.