Vancouver Psychologist’s Patient Disappears – Winnipeg Free Press

Vancouver psychologist Dr. Annick Boudreau is convinced that her patient Danielle did not commit suicide. All the evidence is to the contrary: the suicide note, all the pills, the disappearance certificate.

Danielle had improved greatly and had hinted during their last session that there was a man in her life and that she might be coming out of her depression. Boudreau has never lost a patient, and she’s not about to admit that she may have missed the signs with Danielle.

Midday dark


dark noon

The police decide to commit suicide after checking a few boxes. The police are despicable but nearly invisible here, with Boudreau assuming they hate them for proving another client wasn’t a slam-dunk murderer in his previous book, Primary obsessions.

Not very nuanced, but that’s what author Charles Demers gives us.

It’s amateur detective time – what could go wrong?

Danielle is — was? — a comedian who was hired to soften the image of a charismatic challenged labor leader from impoverished east Vancouver running for mayor on a left/green platform.

The candidate promised to ban trucks on Knight Street, a very long real street in Vancouver and the main truck route from the port. Wealthy developers cartwheeled at the prospect of ramshackle properties on Knight St. bursting all over bike lanes.

Shit if he didn’t win the mayoral election… then immediately flip-flopped to ban the trucks, just as Danielle disappeared.

Could she have had more than a professional relationship with the mayor? Could the bikers who allegedly control the port have threatened the mayor to keep the truck route? Could Danielle’s unknown fate be a message to her adoration? Could Annick, like in her first book, sometimes jump to the wrong conclusions and do some rather stupid and dangerous things while dancing on the edge of patient confidentiality and her clinical role?

Annick is quite friendly, her shortcomings aside. Through dark noonVancouver is a pretty sleazy place with a huge gap between rich and poor – and that’s even without the book paying much attention to the opioid crisis and the exploitation of women.

Annick’s romantic partner, Phillip, is a science reporter for the CBC, but in his youth he tangled with Asian gangs and still hangs out with friends who may not have cut those ties.

Danielle’s father, Ivor, is a crusty old journalist who moved from far left to far right over the course of his career.

Ivor is beaten for asking about his missing daughter. Annick and Phillip are being chased all over Vancouver. The police yawn.

Then, suddenly, the book is over. Don’t bother to ask, no spoilers here.

The problem with the book is that it’s barely a book. A longer story, perhaps. As Primary obsessionsit wraps up the story very quickly, after only over 200 pages, and then you get into the acknowledgments and author biography and other stuffing.

Unless you’re Louise Penny, it’s unusual to find a Canadian mystery hitting 300 pages these days, and many come closer to 200 pages than 300.

You can pass through dark noon in one evening, such is the decided absence of character and plot development.

Author Charles Demers is a comedian — he’s on CBC radio on The debaters — a writer, an actor, a political activist, an essayist.

He has the beginnings of a decent Canadian character – does he still have 100 pages of solid writing left in him?

Retired Free Press reporter Nick Martin remembers the brief newsroom fad of limiting stories to eight inches. He still gets grumpy about it.

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