Cover image for When the flood falls / J.E. Barnard.
When the flood falls / J.E. Barnard.
Publication Information:
Toronto : Dundurn, 2018.

Physical Description:
418 pages ; 21 cm
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BAR Book Adult General Collection

On Order



2016 Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel -- Winner

When a phantom stalker targets her friend, Lacey McCrae's crime-busting skills are tested to their limits.

With her career in tatters and her marriage receding in the rear-view mirror, ex-RCMP corporal Lacey McCrae trades her uniform for a tool belt, and the Lower Mainland for the foothills west of Calgary. Amid the oil barons, hockey stars, and other high rollers who inhabit the wilderness playground is her old university roommate, Dee Phillips. Dee's glossy life was shaken by a reckless driver; now she's haunted by a nighttime prowler only she can hear.

As snowmelt swells the icy river, threatening the only bridge back to civilization, Lacey must make the call: assume Dee's in danger and get her out, or decide the prowler is imaginary and stay, cut off from help if the bridge is swept away.

Author Notes

J.E. Barnard's first novella, Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond , was a 2016 Prix Aurora finalist. She lives in Calgary.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

DEBUT After her divorce from an abusive husband, Lacey McCrae left the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and headed to the Rocky Mountains foothills west of Calgary. Working security at a soon-to-be-opened arts center, she's staying with her university roommate, Dee Phillips, also recently divorced. Dee is scared to death. She swears she hears footsteps at night, but no one has seen a prowler. Initially Lacey suspects Dee's ex-husband, but then there are other incidents, including a murder at the museum and a hit-and-run accident involving Dee. Now the women are in danger; no longer possessing the legal authority she had as a RCMP officer, Lacey must confide in Dee's neighbor Jan Brenner, and the three women will have to rely on one another. -VERDICT Winner of the Unhanged Arthur Ellis Award in 2016 as Canada's best unpublished mystery, this complex, unconventional debut, which revolves around the power of men to instill fear, unfolds slowly, introducing the voices of three individuals suffering from some form of trauma. Suggest to fans of Bryan Gruley's Starvation Lake.-Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The glass wall gazed blank-eyed over the clearing,each of its nine panes backed by thick, pale drapes. Nowoodcutter's shack here, but a huge, glossy house builtof stripped and varnished logs, each as wide as Lacey'swaist. The porch pillars were sanded tree trunks and inthe arched front door was carved a relief of saplings.More show home than family home, more Neil's flavourthan Dee's. Why had Dee kept it in the divorce? Spruces ringed the glade, their roots lost in tangledundergrowth, while before the house, all was austere.Red rock shards filled zigzag beds punctuated by spikyshrubs, their jagged edges scraping on Lacey as she gavethe doorbell a final push. Dee had coaxed her for weeks,leaning on the good old university days and shared misadventuresin her daily texts and voice mails, to set upthis reunion supper, and now she, not Lacey, was late.Six years of separation due to careers and spouses wassupposed to finally end, but Dee wasn't home. As the last echo of the last chime died, Lacey retreatedfrom the stone-paved patio to her shabby Civicto lean on the fender and contemplate her options. Th eyamounted to two: leave now, or wait until Dee eithershowed up or replied to her messages. Five minutes. She would give Dee that much. Sheglanced at her watch to mark the time, crossed her arms,and settled into the alert idleness learned through yearsof conducting stakeouts on the Force. Catalogue everydetail. Th at was how you knew when something hadchanged. Th e fl utter of a drape might indicate someonehiding inside, or that a rear window had been opened fora stealthy escape, sending a draft through the rooms. Abarely registered movement beyond a hedge could signifysomeone sneaking out, or in. A man in a mail uniformwasn't always delivering letters and fl yers. Not thatthese scattered acreages along the hillside would havehome delivery. On the edge of wilderness, an hour fromCalgary, at the feet of the Rocky Mountains, a mailmanwould stick out like a neon Popsicle on an igloo. As she leaned there in the still glade, the forest rustledtoward her from all sides. Tiny sounds -- leaves or birdsor little rodent feet going their secret ways through lastyear's leaves -- whispered isolation. She might be aloneon the hillside, save for the sharp corner of a roofl inehigher up. She should be on her way back to Calgaryand supper, although it would mean crossing that lonebridge over the rushing brown river again. Locals expected the last of the snowpack to surgethrough sometime next week. Until then the riverwould keep rising, bringing down whole trees andthreatening the bridge. Blinding, turbulent water,Lacey's worst nightmare, and right under the windowsof her new jobsite, the not-quite-fi nished BraggCreek Arts Centre and Foothills History Museum.Lacey knew even less about art and history than shedid about security-camera wiring, but being Wayne'sgopher brought in some pay and kept her most desperateworries at bay, at least during working hours.She couldn't ask more than that of her new life. Notyet. Was that shushing sound the river tumbling overits banks, or just the breeze through the spruce tops?Where was Dee? Only three minutes had passed. Th e emptiness wasgetting to her. Too much open space after a decade in theoverpopulated Lower Mainland, where even the wildernesstrails were rarely empty. It was a two-minute drivedown the hill into Bragg Creek. She could grab a burgerat the bar, the only eatery that wouldn't look askanceat her dusty jeans, workboots, and faded T-shirt. Okay,two more minutes and then she was going. She scannedthe front of the house again. Still, no drapes fl uttered, but this time she recognizedsomething odd she'd overlooked in her annoyance. Deeloved the sun and the wide-open sky, fi r trees piercingthe blue, birds fl uttering past her windows. Loved towatch deer wander through the yard to nibble on anythingshe planted. She had gushed about all that toLacey when she'd fi rst moved out here, six, maybe sevenyears ago. Th at explained the spiky shrubs, anyway. Notdeer food. Why, now, were all the windows shroudedin heavy drapes on a celestially sunny day, when smallbirds were squabbling around a seed tray suspendedfrom the porch overhang? All these Dee loved, and yetshe had blocked them out. Lacey straightened up, surveying the house withthe keen ex-cop's eyes she hadn't fully brought to bearearlier. No visible windows were open, but that couldmean air conditioning. No drapes had been disturbedsince her last scan. If the back of the house wasn't asclosed in, maybe Dee was merely protecting expensiveupholstery from sun damage. Circling the housewould fi ll in the two minutes nicely. A single glanceinside could ease the half-formed worry that her oldfriend might be lying injured inside, victim of an accidentor worse. Times beyond count as a constable, shehad undertaken welfare checks on strangers, saved afew, and found some past saving. She could not let thisone pass her by. Returning to the carved front door, she turned leftpast the vast windows and around a massive fi eldstonechimney stack. Each window she saw was securelylocked and swathed. French doors on the rear terracehad their blinds turned down too tight to see anythingat all between the slats. Impossible to guess whichrooms lay beyond which windows. She'd seen grow opsless carefully cloistered. A plank deck connected the terrace and the frontpatio to a triple-car garage. A high post-and-beam pergolasupported a riot of blossoms in hanging baskets wellabove the reach of a deer's teeth. Garage doors: all locked.No sign of forced entry anywhere, no signals of distress.Just an unfriendly house devoid of its current resident. She skirted the sage-green deck furniture and lookedagain over the rear yard. Th e spruce circle was widerhere, leaving space for a tended lawn and opening agap where a woodland path ran up to a wider trail. Awire-fenced dog run attached to the garage was deserted,but the stainless steel water bowl was half full. MaybeDee had simply taken a dog for a walk. She'd always hada dog. Young Duke, a honey-haired Labrador, had hikedthe Algonquin Trail with them when he was a gambollingpup, barely knee high. He'd be old now, and slow.Maybe it was a slow walk, and this search and speculationwere only the old habits of a cop's brain that hadnot quite retired six weeks ago, when Lacey's resignationletter landed on her staff sergeant's desk. Th e RCMP hadbeen her life for most of a decade, and now it wasn't. Herhead needed time to adjust to civilian life, to stop seeingcriminals behind every closed curtain. Dee had simplygone for a walk and lost track of time. Blue sky refl ected on glass in the garage's rear wall:a window inside the dog run, above Lacey's head.Impossible to tell from here whether it was covered ornot, but she bet not. Dee's vehicle was probably parked inthere right now, supporting the walk theory. Finding outwould fi ll in another minute or two. She jiggered an oblongpatio table, one end at a time, down the wide planksteps and into the dog run. When it was fi rmly in positionagainst the garage wall, she scrambled up and peered in.What would Dee think if she came home to fi nd her oldfriend perched on a patio table, peeking into her garage? Whatever Lacey had subconsciously hoped orfeared, the garage held no answers. A second smallwindow high up in the end wall cast enough light toshow her a gold Lexus SUV and a rack holding twobright plastic kayaks. Th e third space was empty nowof whatever Dee's recently divorced skunk had driven.Did that SUV mean she had gone for a walk, or didshe have a second vehicle that she now parked in Neil'sspot? Had she gone away with someone else? Whywasn't she calling back or replying to texts? As Lacey turned back to the house, to the deepshade of the front patio, she blinked. Just for a second,she had fl ashed back to coming home to her old housein Langley, checking that all the drapes were shut tightthe way she had left them, and scanning the street forDan's car before she risked opening the door. She knewall too well what she'd been afraid of then. Was Deeafraid of her ex-husband, too? In the warm afternoonsunshine, Lacey shivered. Excerpted from When the Flood Falls: The Falls Mysteries by J. E. Barnard All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.