The End of the Line
New: The End of the Line has been named one of The Hamilton Spectator’s top 10 Mysteries of 2011.
“It’s 1884, and a vicious murder in a railroad camp brings out a side-lined, damaged Mountie named Durrant Wallace who has to sort out the truth from a wicked tangle of motives. Spies, moonshiners, and corrupt politicians will keep you guessing right up to the nailbiting conclusion of this colourful and thoroughly Canadian crime story. If you’re a fan of the historical mystery, head West–you couldn’t ask for a better guide than Stephen Legault.” ~ Giles Blunt
The End of the Line is a historical novel set in The Canadian Rockies during the late winter and early spring of 1884. As winter swept down on the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline in December of 1883 work on the trans Canada railway came to a halt and five hundred men took up residence in what was then called Holt City (and is today know at Lake Louise). Isolated there in the shadow of the Continental Divide, they cut timber for railway ties and for fuel for locomotives. There they prepared for the ambitious construction season yet to come when 12,000 men would descend on the remote wilderness to push the railway towards completion.
As spring draws near, a man has been murdered at the end of track and Durrant Wallace, a veteran of the celebrated March West by the North West Mounted Police a decade earlier, has been returned to active duty to investigate. Wallace, who lost his leg in a gun battle with whiskey traders three years earlier, struggles with the paradox of being a mounted police officer who cannot ride. He takes on a quiet young man named Charlie as an aide, and the two reach snowbound Holt City by freight train.
There are no shortage of suspects in the killing of Deek Penner, a CPR section boss who was meant to direct the blasting of tunnels through the treacherous Kicking Horse Pass the following summer, and no shortage of motives. The discovery of illegal whiskey, exposure of a spy for a rival railway and revelations of nefarious undertakings surrounding the highly lucrative and volatile explosives contracts are but a few of the possible motives for the man’s murder.
And what of the meddling Member of Parliament Blake O’Brian who arrives shortly after Durrant Wallace, and is overheard arguing about the procurement of explosives with the local foreman? And then there is the matter of coded wire correspondence between the deceased and a man known only as Koffman?
The novel is an action packed mystery filled with the drama of early Canadian history, politics and set amid the most stunning Canadian landscapes. Its explosive conclusion atop the Kicking Horse Pass will force readers to rethink what they know about the Rockies and how the Mounties always get their man.
The End of the Line is the first in a series of historical novels featuring Durrant Wallace. It will be published by Touchwood Editions in September of 2011.