By Rene Natan
“The Bricklayer” is a Crime Fiction novel written by Rene Natan.
The book description says…
“Underneath the usual activities of a successful construction company, The Werkstein, lurk fraud, deception and murder. This all starts when Frederick Elliot Dalton, the owner of The Werkstein hires Moira Johnson, a female engineer in his otherwise all-male company. Fred knows that her presence can create problems, but he never expects it to trigger a chain of seemingly accidental deaths. Slowly, Fred becomes a blip on the police’s radar as anonymous calls accuse him of having been involved in his wife’s death and befriending people of dubious repute. There is Nicholas Falcone who accidentally steals from the mob; Theresa Wilson who would lie and cheat to marry recently-widowed Fred; Alain Alstein, a price estimator who rigs the bids and Moira Johnson who was once a suspect in a murder case. Fred takes veiled accusations and interviews in stride, practicing, in his free time, trap shooting. However, in the eyes of Detective Gordon Stevenson of the London Police Service (London, Ontario), Fred’s poised demeanor reinforces his suspicion instead of appeasing it. Stevenson can’t get concrete results and his frustration reaches peaks when Fred takes lessons on trap shooting from Constable Peggy O’Brian of his own Investigative Unit. Fred doesn’t stop there; he openly romances Peggy, a fact that Stevenson interprets as a challenge. When another death occurs—this time clearly a homicide—Stevenson has to act quickly, ignoring all consequences.”
Kirkus Review says…
“In Rene Natan’s exhilarating mystery novel, a contracting company besieged by questions is a revolving door of deceit, blackmail and accidents.
Constables in London, Ontario, see nothing devious in paraplegic Deborah Dalton’s suicide, but her husband, Fred, piques their interest after two anonymous phone calls make him look suspicious. Why is he tearing out and hauling away a pool so soon after Deborah’s death, and what about the secret apartment in his sister’s name? That’s only the start of a series of people winding up dead amid a shadow of dubious behavior: Fred’s employees skimming from jobs; Tessa enlisting Nick, Fred’s old friend, into helping her become Mrs. Fred; a blackmailer claiming to have incriminating evidence against Moira, who works for Fred; and a hefty amount of cash that may be counterfeit but most definitely doesn’t belong to the person stashing it. Natan’s book is an exemplary whodunit boasting a litany of suspects. The author capably pulls readers into the mystery within the first few pages—questioning not only the recent suicide, but also the accident that rendered Deborah paralyzed four years prior to the story’s start. The gleefully relentless mysteries are piled on one after another; Natan sustains curiosity by resolving several of the uncertainties as the story progresses and leaving just enough unknown to keep readers invested until the end.
Numerous characters are skillfully maneuvered throughout the plot, and identities remain clear and rarely confusing, making the preceding “List of Characters” (with corresponding roles) superfluous. Fred is a protagonist so charming that he woos Peggy, his company and the officer investigating the suspicious deaths. But Moira, who cares for her troubled brother, is the most prominent character, as well as the only female professional among a sea of men.
The type of mystery that other mysteries wish they could be.”
The Author “Rene Natan (aka Irene Gargantini), is a professor of computer science who, close to her retirement, decided to revert to the passion of her youth: story telling. She took several e-courses on fiction and then jumped into writing with the enthusiasm of a novice. She has about a hundred scientific papers to her credit and has received four awards in science; two from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (25 Years of Excellence in Research and Recognition to Contributing to Canadian Research) and two from the IBM Centre for Advanced Studies: Contributing to Canadian Research and Pioneer of Computing in Canada. She has authored seven novels, seven short stories and co-authored a novella. Her genres vary from romantic suspense to thrillers with romantic interludes. Here are a few snapshots of her tales. Novels – The Collage, a 2004-best seller of Creative Guy Publishing, is a story of a young heiress caught in a web of lies and violence; Operation Woman in Black, a release dedicated to all parents of disabled children, portraits the struggle of a man who has to share every minute of his day between police work and the parenting of a handicapped teenage daughter. Cross of Sapphires describes the inner turmoil of a man of the law in love with a fugitive accused of a horrendous crime. Mountains of Dawn brings to life the distress of an orphan with no roots and no place to go. The protagonist of The Jungfrau Watch (a political thriller) has the tormented soul of a man whose political belief has been destroyed, and whose motherland, Russia, has been precipitated into chaos while his life floats in an absolute vacuum. The Red Manor is about family bonds that stretch over two continents and where love overcomes both greed and cleverly engineered criminal plots. In The Blackpox Threat (2010) Tamara Smith-her country threatened by a deadly epidemic-moves from her comfort zone to a world filled with deception and treachery. Natan was a finalist of the 2011 National Indie Excellence Award for The Blackpox Threat. Novella – In Fire Underneath the Ice (co-authored by Sharon Crawford) stockbroker Michael Hamming wants to revenge against the daughter of his nemesis, but ends up falling in love with her. Set during the financial crisis of 2008, Michael Hamming neglects to take care of his company in order to save his kidnapped love. Rene Natan makes her home in Strathroy, Ontario.”