William Deverell — Novelist

The official website of William Deverell, Winner of the Dashiell Hammett Award for Literary Excellence in North American Crime Writing

The Laughing Falcon

Laughing falcon cover

An adventure thriller layered with humour and startling twists, with a cast of wildly eccentric characters.

All that Maggie Schneider, a shy, awkward romance writer from wintry Saskatoon, wants is a tropical holiday and maybe a real romance to stir her creative juices. What she gets instead, soon after she arrives in Costa Rica, is a nasty surprise. First she is robbed of most of her money by a handsome, smooth-talking Latino. Then she and the wife of a prominent US Senator are kidnapped and held for ransom somewhere in the steamy jungle by self-styled revolutionaries led by a charismatic man with a mysterious background. Enter heavy-drinking Slack Sawchuk, whitewater guide, ex-CIA agent, who is dragged into the thick of things to attempt a daring rescue…

The story is told alternately from the points of view of Maggie (with a playful nod to the romance genre) and Slack (his sections offer a lighthearted send-up of the thriller genre). This author, who has wintered in Costa Rica for the last few decades, drew on actual places in his other home, the trendy, exotic resort town of Manuel Antonio, and actual events in 1996: two women similarly kidnapped, and a resulting and infamous case of Stockholm Syndrome. Curious? Go to a search engine for “nicola fleuchaus costa rica”.) The Australian novelist and feminist Sara Dowse had this to say in her review of Laughing Falcon:

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“What Deverell does so brilliantly - and totally without pretension - is play with the notion of genre, subverting all our programmed expectations while giving us a truly moving story that satisfies on a number of levels. This book is somewhat similar to, and every bit as good as, Kate Grenville’s The Idea of Perfection, which recently won the Orange Prize … he’s an author who keeps improving his vintage. For those who have stayed away or failed to take him seriously, this book should be proof that we have something of a treasure in our midst.” Vancouver Sun

“As with all Deverell novels, the beauty lies in the detail, the lush description and the plots. There are few mystery writers who could carry such an outrageous cast in such far-flung Central American locations. Deverell, some might suggest, is getting away with murder here - murdering the competition, that is.” Ottawa Citizen

“The Laughing Falcon displays the craftsmanship and plot spins of an inventive storyteller successfully trying on a new approach to his work.” Toronto Star

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