Author Tags: Fiction
Born in New Zealand in 1937, Ron Chudley immigrated to Canada in 1964. A script writer for film and television, Chudley has written for programs including The Beachcombers, the CBC history series The Bush & the Salon, and CBC Stage and Mystery.
In 2005, Chudley published the mystery novel Old Bones, a story that unravels from the discovery an old automobile in a remote Western Canada lake, containing the half-century-old remains of a traveller. It was followed by Dark Resurrection, a post 9/11 thriller in which a couple living quietly in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island acquire a dreadful fortune--and must try to rid themselves of the consequences.
Written before an English couple made world headlines following the mysterious disappearance of their daughter in Portugal, Ron Chudley’s third novel Stolen (Touchwood $12.95) explores the frightening scenario of a father desperately hoping to find his young son who has inexplicably disappeared during an overnight stop in the Fraser Canyon. After a coroner’s verdict determines death occurred by drowning, even though no body is recovered, John Quarry continues to search for his son, Nate, fuelled by a blind faith that his son is alive. The father is arrested and nearly murdered as he struggles to absolve his guilt and wrestle with his fears. Think Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, set in the Fraser Canyon and the Alberta badlands.
In Ron Chudley's mystery Scammed, according to publisher's promotional material, "Greg Lothian's orderly life is torn apart when his mother and famous artist father are scammed of their life savings by cruel con men. When the same criminals steal Greg's own identity, the normally law-abiding accountant turns his analytical mind to plotting revenge. This uncharacteristic decision plunges him into the strange and horrifying underworld that lurks everywhere, even on peaceful Vancouver Island. As Greg prepares to find the perpetrators of the debilitating crime, he sets up a clever plan of entrapment that ends up going badly wrong."
Act of Evil is the first mystery in the Hal Bannatyne Mystery series. According to publisher's promotional material: "Hal Bannatyne is a successful actor in town to shoot a big budget film. Spotting an old flame, Mattie, he immediately becomes involved with her family. When Mattie’s father-in-law tries to protect his land from the intrigue of a crooked and fervent land development scheme, Bannatyne soon finds he is mixed up in the conflict. Someone, however, is willing to stop at nothing to achieve a goal, and an attempted murder makes it clear that the whole family—and Bannatyne—should fear for their lives. Bannatyne sets out to unravel the mystery behind a seemingly innocuous set of events so heavily entwined that nobody could have predicted the dreadful consequences.
Old Bones (Touchwood, 2005). $12.95 1-894898-33-8
Dark Resurrection (Touchwood, 2006). $12.95 1-894898-48-6
Stolen (Touchwood, 2007). $12.95 978-1-894898-59-1
Scammed (Touchwood, 2009). $12.95
Act of Evil (Touchwood, 2010). 978-1-926741-06-2 : $24.95.
[BCBW 2010] "Fiction"
Old Bones by Ron Chudley (TouchWood Editions $12.95)
Old Bones begins when a teenager finds the ruins of a very old pick-up truck in Christina Lake. After half-a-century, water levels of the lake have dropped to reveal the wreck. Curious and excited, the boy named Rudy swims out to investigate. Inside the vehicle he finds old bones. Old Bones is called a mystery on its front cover, but New Zealand-born scriptwriter and first-time novelist Ron Chudley says he doesn’t really write mysteries. “It appears that the publishing business always needs to categorize,” he says. “All I wanted to do was write a tale about a group of people interacting with each other.”
The local police officer, Jack, investigates the bones. He can’t find any record of a missing person in the area from fifty years ago but Jack’s partner, Margie, has a childhood memory of an old farm... Jack plays a hunch and checks with an elderly couple who have lived in the town for most of their lives. They, in turn, recall a school girl from long ago. Jack and Margie track her down and she reveals the identity of the skeleton, but not the full story behind why it’s there. Jack becomes further enmeshed in a mystery when a gardener named Emily discovers more bones on her own property. Jack’s own origins as an adopted child enter the picture. Plus there’s a gay couple, Joseph and Ray, who become integral to the plot. So Old Bones is what might be described as fusion fiction. There’s murder, morality, coincidences, love and redemption. It’s as much about reconciliation as it is about crime.
There aren’t any ‘bad guys’ in this story. Much of the narration is philosophical, or romantic, but Old Bones is fueled by Gothic elements.
The ‘skeleton’ angle arose from a newspaper article that Chudley read years ago, very similar to the one that starts the book. Chudley admits he’s “constitutionally incapable” of not trying for some mystery and suspense.
Chudley’s world is a moral one, where family is important, resolutions are available and answers can be found. Readers who love the “deus ex machina” devices of Greek plays and the mistaken identity intrigues of Elizabethan comedy, will find it easy to fall between these covers. Others will have difficulty accepting the deliberately colossal coincidences. “In the end, telling stories is what it’s all about,” says Chudley. “I just want to tell them about folks and situations that interest me. “As to classifying it as a mystery—if that is an inducement to have my work read, then so be it.” 1-894898-33-8
-- by Cherie Thiessen
[BCBW 2006] "Mysteries"