Born in 1953 in Courtenay, Dennis Bolen spent nine years there, and four in Qualicum Beach, before spending most of his teenage years in the Port Alberni area. He attended University of Victoria and obtained a degree in Creative Writing, followed by an M.A. in Creative Writing from UBC. An associate editor of sub-TERRAIN magazine in his spare time, he spent more than 20 years as a parole officer in Vancouver. Bolen's play called Robin's Reasons was performed by Vancouver's Dark Horse Theatre in 1989. His first novel about a world-weary, womanizing parole officer on Vancouver's east-side, Stupid Crimes, appeared in 1992, and was well-received by critics as the second release from the Anvil Press imprint of Brian Kaufman. It's a rare crime novel that doesn't glorify crime or criminals. Although it explores the sadistic criminality of a psycho-rapist, it's also a humourous and down-to-earth novel about the moralistic pressures of being another man's keeper.

Bolen continued to explore dark themes in his historical novel about the Holocaust entitled Stand in Hell (Random House, 1995). It follows a man who hits the road in the United States to contact a suspected Nazi war criminal in order to uncover his own grandfather's true identity.

Bolen's third novel, and second novel about parole officer Barry Delta, Krekshuns (Random House 1997 $18.95), describes 'an emotional journey most men would be frightened to take' when a beautiful and intelligent hooker enters his life as one of his parolees. Barry Delta must save her from a predator within the Correctional Services. "Krekshuns is about sex offenders, power and the abuse of that power in the workplace," Bolen told Damian Inwood of The Province. Amid the ne'er-do-wells and nutcases in Barry Delta's world, there remains the constant, gnawing sense of compassion within the parole officer that even his cynicism can't control or eliminate. "Think of being in charge of at least 30 of your fellow earth creatures," says narrator Barry Delta in Stupid Crimes, "with the responsibilty and power to observe them, make judgements and commit them to detention all based on your own instinct and sense of what's right."

The release of Krekshuns was followed by publication of shorter fiction in Gas Tank & Other Stories (Anvil, 1998 $14.95).

Not to be confused with Tom Cruise and Top Gun, Barry Delta makes his third appearance as a reluctant good guy in Toy Gun (Anvil, 2005), another amalgam of bleak humour and compassionate urges. Bolen's protagonist Barry Delta does for the job of parole officer in Vancouver what Da Vinci has done for the job of coroner, without commercial breaks.

Also set in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver, Kaspoit! (Anvil, 2009) documents a city overrun with gangland crime. The short stories in Anticipated Results (Arsenal, 2011) follow Baby Boomers that are 'chronic underachievers at work and love whose malaise is tempered by booze and cars'. Black Liquor (Caitlin 2013) is his first collection of poetry.


Stupid Crimes (Anvil, 1992)
Stand in Hell (Random House, 1995)
Krekshuns (Random House 1997)
Gas Tank & Other Stories (Anvil, 1998)
Toy Gun (Anvil, 2005)
Kaspoit! (Anvil, 2009)
Anticipated Results (Arsenal, 2011) 978-1-55152-400-9 $18.95
Black Liquor (Caitlin Press 2013) $16.95 Poetry.

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2013] "Fiction" "Law"