As “Bevan Amberhill,” I am co-author (with the late Virgil Burnett [1928-2012]) of two murder-mystery novels set in and around Stratford among its theatre/arts community, published by The Mercury Press (Toronto): The Bloody Man and The Running Girl. I am sole author of the third book in the series, Downstage Dead (Pasdeloup Press, Stratford), although for DD I continued to write as Amberhill for purposes of continuity.
As “Bruce Barber,” I am author of one book of poetry, The Liquid Hour (Pasdeloup Press, Stratford 2007), while my short fiction has appeared in various publications and anthologies, as follows: “The Crystaiad,” “Widow’s Walk,”“Blues in the Shadows,” “The Marilyn Machine,” “Jhorzia and the Dragon,” in On Spec (Edmonton); “The Last Last Call,” in the anthology Through the Eyes of the Undead (Library of the Living Dead Press); “Grinds Slowly, but Exceeding Small,” in the anthology Courting Morpheus (Belfire Press); “Collaboration,” in Neo-Opsis (Vancouver); “Tattoo,” in the anthology Habaneras (Pasdeloup Press) , which I also co-edited with Virgil Burnett; “Rita Hayworth Stalks the Night,” in The New Quarterly (Waterloo). ”Pursued by a Bear,” in Storyteller (Ottawa). “The Ugly Baby,” in Descant(Toronto)
Tell us about your book(s):
The three “Bevan Amberhill” novels are murder-mysteries, with the arts community front and centre in both theme and content. My short fiction encompasses a number of genres, including fantasy, SF, magic realism , and literary.
The Bloody Man
Actor-turned-writer Jean-Claude Keyes boards a train bound for Stratford, Ontario, Canada and the world-famous Stratford Shakespeare Festival. His intent is to finish writing his insider’s biography of leading actor Seamus O’Reilly, see old friends, and perhaps re-kindle his affair with actress Alessandra Edel. But, as Keyes says to himself, things are never the same when you go back to a place you have known, no matter how well.
The fire of deadly emotion beneath the glamour and glitter of the world of the stage emerges when Keyes discovers the body of Alan Wales, a young, arrogant actor, murdered outside the theatre during a performance of MACBETH. A cast of directors, designers, and theatrical stars become suspects, and Keyes becomes a reluctant sleuth.
It was a source of great pride to co-author Virgil Burnett and myself, as well as to the publisher, The Mercury Press, that The Bloody Man received quite favourable reviews, and was also nominated for Best First Novel by The Crime Writers of Canada
The Running Girl
On what was supposed to be a fine February weekend, Jean-Claude Keyes is driving with his Toronto editor toward his new home in Stratford, when a savage blizzard begins. Seeking shelter with a motley crew of strangers forced off the highway by the blowing snow, Keyes is trapped in the centre of a different kind of storm: the storm around a murder at the Blue Bayou Motel. Who pulled the trigger on that deadly little gun? The motel’s cook and co-owner, mysterious Oswald Feist? Itinerant musician Moanin’ Joe McKendricks? Or is the real murderer stalking the rooms of the Blue Bayou, hidden by the ice-white swirling wind and frigid darkness?
We didn’t spend much time in Stratford proper with the second book, opting to start off in Toronto, with the bulk of the story taking place on the outskirts of town.
With Virgil’s blessing and some good advice, I tackled Jean-Claude’s third adventure on my own. In this one, Keyes becomes involved with an enticing woman named Kaylyn Dionne, a Stratford Festival production of the vampire classic, COUNT DRACULA, and – yet again – with murder. On a most unusual “first date,” Keyes and Kaylyn discover the bodies of her sister and another member of the acting troupe, murdered horrifically. But the show must go on, even in the ensuing atmosphere of fear, distrust, and confusion. Bound by loyalty, and perhaps by love, Keyes again finds himself ensnared in the circumstances and aftermath of violent death.
What’s next for you and your writing?
At the moment I am concentrating on the process of making my physically out-of-print books available again, but as e-books. Currently they can be purchased as KINDLE versions from AMAZON.COM. This will be followed with an e-collection of the previously published short fiction listed earlier, and perhaps my lone book of poetry. As far as new writing goes, several things are in motion.
Is there a local connection for your books?
These three “Bevan Amberhill” novels take place for the most part in Stratford, albeit a heavily fictionalized version.
Where can readers buy your book locally?
They can’t, unfortunately. They are out of print physically, but are now available on AMAZON.COM in KINDLE format: