“Once again, Stephen Legault brings in a great historical mystery.” Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail.

The Third Riel Conspiracy is a story about the origins of Canada told through a richly engaging mystery, peopled with characters both real and imaged, set on Canada’s dramatic and evocative prairie. It is the second book in the Durrant Wallace Series published by Touchwood Editions.

It is the spring of 1885 and rebellion has broken out in Canada’s North West Territories. Amid the chaos and strife of the Battle of Batoche, Reuben Wake is confined the Zereba – a defensive structure built near the battlefield – as a result of a wound suffered on the third day of fighting.  As the fourth day of the conflict reaches its crescendo, Wake is murdered: shot at point blank range, and killed. Hours later, Terrance Le Biche, a Métis man who surrendered days earlier, is arrested for the crime: Wake’s own pistol is found in his coat. But Le Biche protests his innocence: he admits he had every intention of killing Wake, but someone beat him to the foul deed.

Durrant Wallace, Sergeant in the North West Mounted Police, is requested by Superintendent Sam Steele to travel with haste into the fray in order to assist with peacemaking. Arriving at Batoche Durrant is perplexed by the strange circumstances surrounding Reuben Wake’s demise. When the Mountie begins his own investigation into what motive Le Biche might have had for the assignation, he learns that there are many who wanted Wake dead, and had the opportunity to commit the crime during the chaos of Batoche. Their grievances with Wake mirror the varied causes of the North West Rebellion itself.

What Durrant Wallace uncovers during his two month odyssey into the origins of the discontent in the Canadian West is a series of covert conspiracies surrounding the life and death of Métis leader and Prophet Lois Riel himself. Was Reuben Wake’s death related to his involvement in one of these conspiracies? Or did his trickery and evil temperament simply catch up with him on the banks of the Saskatchewan River?

The South Saskatchewan River at Batoche

Durrant Wallace and his colleagues must reconstruct the four days of the Battle of Batoche, and delve deeply into the motivations of the suspects, and of the Métis and their followers among the tribes of the Cree and Sioux Indians in order to evaluate who among them actually killed Reuben Wake.

The Church and Rectory at Batoche

The story reaches its climax during the week-long intermission in the trial of Riel himself, when many of those involved in the Rebellion stood in the prisoners dock in Regina. Working to uphold the Mounties now famous code of justice, Durrant Wallace and his friends set a trap for Wake’s true killer, both to free the wrongly accused, and to save the lives of the other conspirators now in the killer’s sights.

Read the first chapter of The Third Riel Conspiracy here.

Check out the first book in the series, The End of the Line.

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