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A Hummingbird Dance ? A Detective Lane Mystery
Garry Ryan
NeWest Press 2008
251 pages paperback

A Hummingbird Dance is the third Detective Lane mystery by Garry Ryan. Being, like me, unfamiliar with the first two is not a problem as the story stands on its own. This whodunit set in the outskirts of Calgary, Alberta is an original enough read not only for its gay main character but also for its overall tone and feel. If you are looking for something a little different in a mystery novel, A Hummingbird Dance just may be the answer though far from a perfect answer.

The originality of A Hummingbird Dance comes in small part from police detective Lane being gay and living with his partner Arthur. The real difference of this mystery is in the somewhat mystical overtones introduced by secondary characters like Eva, an old Native woman, and Aidan, a young woman who was friends with one of the victims.

This novel is generally well written though the occasional gay agenda bit is on the loud and clumsy side (pages 54 – 55, for example). There are also a couple of clumsy sentences such as “They expressed concern that patrons may stay away from this year’s Stampede due to safety concerns” an editor should have picked up on.

The same could be said for the extremely repetitive paragraphs that introduce Aidan. After a while, even the most distracted reader will pick up on the fact her clothing is always describe and she and her namesake marionette are always dressed alike.

If you are an impatient reader, this mystery is a bit complex in the first few chapters. There’s a year-old unsolved hit and run, a missing person, two bodies, two family crises, and a strange yet fascinating marionettist; all this with a First Nations, cowboys, and wide open spaces backdrop. Things do settle down after that and A Hummingbird Dance keeps moving at a good pace.

What requires a massive dose of willing suspension of disbelief with a side of ice cream and a cherry on top is how many gay characters there are in A Hummingbird Dance: Detective Lane’s partner has a live-in gay nephew, the couple’s only friends are two gay women; the hit and run victim was gay; the three dead guys were gay; another but unrelated dead guy was gay; hell, even one of the murder suspects is gay. Fortunately, and probably to keep it real, Lane also has a live-in nephew but he just has CP.

A Hummingbird Dance could have been a better mystery than it is. I might be willing to give Garry Ryan another crack but it will take a while.