A Little More Free

John McFetridge. ECW (Legato, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-77041-264-4

This terrific continuation of the narrative McFetridge began in Black Rock opens with a bang. Constable Eddie Dougherty is on the scene of Montreal’s infamous Blue Bird Café fire in 1972. McFetridge sets the mystery within layers of that era’s history: the legendary Canada-U.S.S.R. Hockey Summit Series, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts heist, and the flood of Vietnam War draft dodgers. As Dougherty investigates the fire and heist, plus the unsolved death of a U.S. deserter, he discovers his own growing unease with the job’s shaded-gray morality: “He was feeling how a homicide investigation could get under his skin, how the idea that someone who beat a man to death could be walking around the city like nothing happened... he was starting to understand how little it had to do with being his job.” As with Black Rock, McFetridge’s Montreal is a full character, a persistently tense bilingual city where the Anglophone Dougherty can size up a room by observing which kinds of cigarettes are being smoked. Working with a deceptively simple style that echoes Joseph Wambaugh, McFetridge has delivered an unpredictable mystery, a fine character study, and a vivid snapshot of 1972 Montreal. (Sept.)