Mystery Mondays: J.E. Barnard on the Scene of the crime

I’m always thrilled when I get to announce a new release by an author contributing to Mystery Mondays. J.E. Barnard’s latest novel, When the Flood Falls, was released last week. Congrats Jayne!

As a crime writer, Jayne is here to talk about the scene of the crime. How appropriate.

Over to Jayne.

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

By J.E. Barnard

How many places have you seen in your lifetime where you could dump a body?

If you’re a sweet old lady who loves Agatha Christie books, any place has possibilities.

Take, for instance, my godmother. She’d be 90 now. On our last outing, we went together to Butchart Gardens on a warm summer evening, to admire the artful lighting and colourful fountains, to sniff the breeze for exotic floral aromas that quicken in the dew-laden air. As we strolled slowly along a path in the old quarry, she paused by a Japanese maple snugged against the rocky wall. The front leaves were translucent flame, spotlit from below; behind the trunk, in sharp and artful contrast, was shadow deep as midnight. Standing amid the delicate pale blossoms, gazing into the heart of blood-red darkness, this dear old woman sighed happily and murmured, “You could hide TWO bodies in there if you had to.”

That touching moment occurred the same summer that the city of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan was about to open its long-awaited new Art Museum. The museum’s curator took me and a few other part-time instructors on a tour of the new facility. We exclaimed over the huge clay sink (coffin-sized!), praised the classroom spaces, admired the view over the Serpentine Canal, and eventually were taken to the sub-basement via a special key and admitted to that holiest of holies in the art world: the vault.

An art vault is typically a secure storage space with diverse capabilities, from open floor space for large sculptures to shelves for smaller pieces, and metal racks from which to hang paintings and other framed artworks. These racks in particular fascinated me. To open the one nearest the wall, you had to roll each successive rack sideways, leaving a barely-body-wide gap for the unlucky curators to squeeze into with the painting to be stored.

As the curator began rolling each rack back into place, she was explaining the measures built into prevent the vault flooding if the Serpentine Canal spilled over its banks. Amid the sense of menace from rising water, the gap by the wall closed with a crunch. In my mind’s eye I saw a flood outside and, trapped at the very back of the vault, at the mercy of this half-tonne of gliding metal, a body. I went home with my brain abuzz. Whose body would it be? How long could it stay in that climate-controlled environment undetected? Who had, or could get, access to the special key card?

Life intervened, as it does to most fictive dreams, and ten years passed. Standing in a different museum in a different province, admiring a framed painting whose label said it had been in secure storage for many years, I remembered that art vault and that hypothetical body, and set to work on a mystery that would take place in a new Art Museum.

In 2016, fully 18 years after my vision in that small art vault in Moose Jaw, my mystery featuring an art vault won the Dundurn Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished Crime Novel. There were many changes the way – to the plot, the characters, the technology – but that vault remained. On July 14, 2018, the ‘art vault mystery’ was released by Dundurn Press as When the Flood Falls, which is set in Bragg Creek, Alberta where the Elbow River flooded slightly in 2005 and catastrophically in 2013. There’s no real-life Art Museum on the Elbow’s bank but I pictured one so vividly during the writing that I’m always surprised when I cross that bridge and the building isn’t there.

This past weekend, I read the vault scene live for the first time, at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words, held annually in the Moose Jaw Art Museum. Two floors beneath my feet, in the sub-basement that is only accessible by special key, lurked the original art vault that inspired the scene in the book. Did I picture, for a disorienting instant, a real body trapped behind those real, heavy, rolling metal racks?

You bet I did. My godmother would have been so proud.


WhentheFloodFallsNew compressed 1With her career in tatters and her marriage receding in the rear-view mirror, ex-RCMP corporal Lacey McCrae trades her uniform for a tool belt, and the Lower Mainland for the foothills west of Calgary. Amid the oil barons, hockey stars, and other high rollers who inhabit the wilderness playground is her old university roommate, Dee Phillips. Dee’s glossy life was shaken by a reckless driver; now she’s haunted by a nighttime prowler only she can hear.

As snowmelt swells the icy river, threatening the only bridge back to civilization, Lacey must make the call: assume Dee’s in danger and get her out, or decide the prowler is imaginary and stay, cut off from help if the bridge is swept away.

WHO IS J.E Barnard?

Jayne Barnard 2017 sly shrunkJ.E. Barnard is a Calgary-based crime writer with 25 years of award-winning short fiction and children’s literature behind her. Author of the popular Maddie Hatter Adventures (Tyche Books), and now The Falls Mysteries (Dundurn Press), she’s won the Dundurn Unhanged Arthur, the Bony Pete, and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award.
Her works were shortlisted for the Prix Aurora (twice), the UK Debut Dagger, the Book Publishing in Alberta Award (twice), and three Great Canadian Story prizes. Her most recent book is When the Flood Falls, a small-town psychological thriller set in the Alberta foothills west of Calgary.

RePost of Capital Crime Writers Audrey Jessup Announcement.

Thank you to Capital Crime Writers for hosting the Audrey Jessup short story contest.  Also thanks to the judges who took the time to read all of the entries and thanks for the lovely evening out.

The photo is me looking surprised and happy 🙂

This is the blog they posted on Monday.

Congratulations to our Audrey Jessop Short Story Prize winner!


Kristina Stanley Audrey Jessup


Kristina Stanley walked away with the 2014 Audrey Jessop Short Story prize for her submission, “When a Friendship Fails”.

The awards dinner at The Heart & Crown in the Byward Market capped off a Capital Crime Writers’ mayhem-filled year.

A huge thanks to our judges and all participants. And it’s never too early to start working on your submission for next year.

Here’s the complete list of prize winners and honourable mentions:

FIRST PRIZE:   ‘When a Friendship Fails’ by Kristina Stanley

SECOND PRIZE:  ’The Moment It Fell’ by Wynn Quon

THIRD PRIZE:  ’The Ride Home’ by Linda Standing

HONOURABLE MENTION:  ’Act the Part’ by Jennifer Jorgensen

HONOURABLE MENTION:  ’Scapegoat’ by Nicholas Ashton

Crime Writers Of Canada Mentorship Program

Two years have passes since I participated in the CWC mentorship program. I can’t stress enough what a valuable experience having Garry Ryan (writer for the Detective Lane Mysteries and at the time  President of the CWC) work with me on my manuscript.

Here are the rules  from the CWC newsletter.

If you’re an Associate Member with two or more years in good standing with the Crime Writers of Canada and you’re interested in partnering with one of our wonderful volunteers, please contact the CWC (Address in newsletter). They’ll send you all the information you need to get started, and when you agree to the guidelines, they’ll match you up with the mentor best able to help you out. 

If you’re not a member and are Canadian, why not join?  I think I’m a better writer because of it.

Thanks for reading . . .


CWC First Novel Awards

The Crime Writers of Canada Crime Novel Awards

If you are looking for a new author to read, the short list for the 2013 Arthur Ellis Awards is out. Sometimes I find it hard to find a new author to read, so each year I check out the CWC list. There are other categories for Canadian crime writers if you are looking for an author you already are familiar with.

The five novels short listed for the BEST FIRST NOVEL  are:

Confined Spaces by Deryn Collier

The Dead of Winter by Peter Kirby

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

A Private Man by Chris Lang

The Beggar’s Opera by Blair Peggy.


Thanks for reading . . .