Wednesday, 09 November 2016 07:06

Swift Current author to launch debut novel

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Swift Current author Irene Bingham’s new novel will take readers on a journey of suspense and intrigue as a police officer from Alaska solves a cold case with help from a witness from Saskatchewan.


The murder mystery And Heaven Finds a Witness is her first full-length novel. She will be reading from the story during a book launch at the Swift Current Branch Library, Nov. 16.
“I didn’t find it as difficult as I thought I would, mainly because I probably have read a lot of murder mysteries and I had an idea what I wanted to do,” she said. “The hardest part with any story is to make your timelines fit. Sometimes that can be very difficult.”
She prepared a detailed outline of the story when she began working on the novel to ensure that the information in each chapter fits in with the unravelling of an unsolved murder case.
“I had 10 pages originally, to start with, of letter size pages,” she recalled. “On each one I wrote something and that all had to come back directly to the centre.”
Her interest in murder mysteries already started when she grew up on a farm in the Abbey area.
“We didn’t have much reading material at home when I was growing up,” she recalled. “My mother had True Stories and my dad had True Detective, and I would prefer to read the True Detective to the True Stories —so that’s where I come from, my interest in it.”
She wanted to become a police officer and she actually applied twice, once to the Toronto Police Service and then to the RCMP, but she was not accepted.
“I suppose that gives me the interest in the police and the work they have to do,” she said.
She has dedicated this novel to the members of the RCMP in appreciation of the work they do to serve and protect Canadians.
“Finding a viable witness that provides information to solve difficult murder cases requires times and dedicated detectives,” she wrote in the dedication. “I’m ever grateful that we have such a police force serving us. May they continue to develop new equipment and new methods to help solve crimes and continue to be respected by other countries in our ever changing world.”
She and her husband lived and worked in Yorkton from 1962 to 1989, where she worked at the Dairy Queen for eight years.
“We always had police officers come in for their morning coffee,” she recalled. “So I kind of got to know some police officers, just by serving them their coffee and different things. The gentleman that I got to know worked in the ID department. I just got to know some of the policemen and to understand their jobs a little bit more.”
Although her book is a work of fiction, she used information from two actual events from the 1980s as background to create her story. The one is an unsolved murder case from Cook’s Inlet in Alaska.
The other is related to the Wells Gray family murders in British Columbia. In an effort to solve this case, the RCMP drove a replica of the one family’s missing camper truck across Canada.
One of the main characters in the book is an employee at the Dairy Queen in Yorkton, who encounters two suspicious men in the store while she works a shift as the weekend supervisor.
Bingham started to write the book in 2002 and completed it two years later, but then put it aside for 10 years.
“I think that’s probably a fear of not believing it was good enough,” she said. “Sometimes, you just don’t figure you’ve got a piece that’s interesting enough material.”
She decided to take another look at the manuscript after watching an episode from the America’s Most Wanted television series. She asked Dick DeRyk, the former editor of the Yorkton This Week newspaper, to read the story before she published it.
“He found it very interesting,” she said. “He also asked me that if I was going to do any more, he would like to read them.”
Each chapter starts with a quote and the book’s title refers to a quote by the 19th century English novelist, poet and playwright, Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton: “Whenever man commits a crime, heaven finds a witness.”
It is a fitting title for the book because a witness that just came out of the blue with crucial information about a cold case is an essential part of the story.
Bingham, who is the current president of the Prairie Quills Writing Group, began writing short stories in 1992.
She has also written children’s stories, and her work has been published in different formats. Her most recent publication was a trilogy of children’s books that became available in April.
She is now working on two novels. The one is also a murder mystery that is set in Lac la Ronge. The other is a historical novel related to the pioneer days in Saskatchewan, when a young woman cannot find a job as a school teacher in Ontario and then travels west.
The book launch for Bingham’s first novel And Heaven Finds a Witness takes place at the Swift Current Branch Library on Nov. 16, starting at 7 p.m. Copies will be available for sale and she will read from the book during the evening.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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