EVANS, Stanley

Author Tags: Fiction

Murder, like every other form of extreme behaviour, is addictive. So writes Stanley Evans halfway through his fourth, Victoria-centric police procedural, Seaweed on the Rocks (Touchwood $12.95), featuring his unconventional Coast Salish detective Silas Seaweed.

Twenty years ago there would have been a fuss made about a white guy inventing a First Nations detective. Evans’ less-than-anthropological approach to generating a gritty mystery yarn—sprinkling depictions of indigenous mythology and religion for the purposes of entertaining storylines—would have been denounced as “appropriation” on the West Coast.

But these days it’s fiction. Get over it. That seems to be Evans’ unabashedly confident approach. It’s so clearly evident that he means no disrespect—and the city of Victoria takes centre stage in Evans’s stories as much as his detective—that he has been able to develop his own style with relative impunity.

“The Warrior Reserve does not exist,” we are told. “The Mowaht Bay Band does not exist.”

In Seaweed on the Rocks, the plotting can be a tad whimsical, but Silas Seaweed’s insouciant charm is infectious, Evans’ characters from the underbelly of society are superb and critical observations of Vancouver Island society are refreshingly candid and often revealing.

“Victoria’s ‘Viagra Triangle’ is based at Rock Bay,” he writes, “the area lying between Douglas Street and the Gorge Waterway. Fifty years ago it was largely residential, but now the few remaining houses share Rock Bay with pawnshops, one-hour motels, used-car dealerships, warehouses, hole-in-the-wall consignment shops and British Columbia’s liquor-distribution headquarters.”

What the storyline lacks in urgency, it makes for in complexity. When Silas investigates the overdose of a girl he knew from his Reserve, he encounters a ten-foot-tall mythical bear, small-time crooks, a murdered hypnotist, bogus First Nations ceremonies for profit, a murdered blackmailer and a beautiful but aloof Lexus-driving First Nations love interest.

It rollicks. There’s wit. And it’s original.

Born in England in 1931, Stan Evans is a former college instructor who came to Canada in 1954. Two of his plays were produced at the Seymour Street Arts Club in Vancouver.

His mystery novel Seaweed on the Street (2005) introduces Silas Seaweed who investigates the disappearance of billionaire's daughter. To unravel a family mystery, Seaweed, formerly employed by Victoria's Serious Crimes Unit, searches for clues in Victoria, Seattle and Reno. We are told, "Depictions of Native mythology and religion are based on ethnological research and do not necessarily reflect the present-day observances and practices of the Coast Salish people."

In a follow-up novel, Seaweed on Ice (2006), Silas Seaweed gets involved in investigating the sale in Victoria of Nazi loot that was confiscated from Jews during World War II.

Seaweed under Water (2007) involves an underwater vision quest for Detective Seaweed after party girl Jane Colby is found drowned, with strangulation marks on her neck.

The death of a gardener and a policeman's wife lead Silas on a quest to clear his own name and track the killers to the remote islands of Desolation Sound in Stanley Evans' fifth Silas Seaweed mystery, Seaweed in the Soup (2009).

Switching publishers, Evans published Seaweed in the Mythworld (2011) in which giant thunderbirds are threatening the skies over British Columbia. A man is found dead in an abandoned church. Canada's governor general is dying and an aboriginal shaman is called upon to perform last rites. Plus there are Chinese assassins, dangerous women and a violent gang boss.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Seaweed on the Rocks & Seaweed in the Soup


Seaweed in the Mythworld (Ekstasis 2011) 9781897430774, $17.95.
Seaweed in the Soup (Touchwood, 2009).
Seaweed on the Rocks (Touchwood, 2008). 978-1894898-73-7
Seaweed under Water (Touchwood, 2007).
Seaweed on Ice (Touchwood, 2006).
Seaweed on the Street (TouchWood, 2005) $12.95 1-894898-34-6
Snow-Coming Moon (Horsdal and Schubart, l997)
Outlaw Gold (Horsdal and Schubart, l996)

[BCBW 2011] "Fiction" "Cariboo" "Indianology"

Seaweed On Ice
Press Release (2007)

In this novel, Coast Salish street cop Silas Seaweed has his hands full. An elderly Jewish immigrant has disappeared. An old blind woman has been murdered. Valuable art stolen from German Jews during the Second World War has begun to show up for sale in Victoria's auction houses, and the word on the street is that illicit collectors are planning to loot a priceless Coast Salish archaeological site. Unravelling these mysteries becomes a life-and-death quest, for when his investigation leads Seaweed into romance, it's just possible that his lover is a ruthless killer. -- Touchwood