FORGOTTEN BOOKS: DEAD IN THE WATER BY TED WOOD!
In my last Forgotten Books posting (Head Of The Force by James Barnett), I spoke about the sub-genre within my library of novels written by current or former police officers. Ted Wood, whose debut novel Dead In The Water kicked off one of my favorite series, is another cop turned writer.
Wood was born in England and emigrated to Canada in 1954. He served on the Toronto police force for three years, and was later a copy writer and agency creative director for a Toronto advertising firm. He has written radio and stage plays, TV dramas and documentaries, magazine articles, and short stories. Dead In The Water, his first novel, was the winner of the Scribner Crime Novel Award.
Written in the first person, Dead In The Water kicked off a marvelous series featuring ex-Toronto cop turned small town police chief Reid Bennett. Assisting Bennett, and one of the major charms of the series, is Bennett’s German shepherd, Sam. Now, this is no cutesy dog lovers’ mystery – Sam is a hardcore police dog and Bennett uses him to great effect in that capacity. This doesn’t mean there isn’t affection between dog and handler – of course there is – but when it comes time to work, it’s all professional.
His life destroyed because of a bad rap he took for murdering two guys to prevent a rape, Reid Bennett relocated to Murphy's Harbor, a quaint little town in Canada. But was it really the quiet little place it seemed to be? A corpse and a scared woman, each found on a different side of the lake. Then another corpse. Reid, with his German shepherd Sam by his side, must go above and beyond the call of duty to get to the bottom of this mystery. The only way he can solve it and remain alive is to stretch the traditional definition of a police officer.
When Reid Bennett is offered a job as the one-man police force of tiny Murphy’s Harbour, it seems too good to pass up. The bad publicity following his off-duty, barehanded, killing of two men while trying to prevent a rape, has ruined his career with the Toronto police force and wrecked his marriage. In Murphy’s Harbour, a lakefront town in Muskoka cottage country, he hopes he can establish a normal life again in a calm setting.
But when a corpse turns up at one end of the lake, and a New York woman looking for protection arrives at the otherr end, Bennett’s investigations uncovers indications Murphy’s Harbour is perhaps not an idyllic haven. And within a day, the discovery of a second corpse and a cache of drugs, makes it clear the resort town has become the base of a professional crime operation.
The pleasure boats on the lake and the woodland surrounding it make a shifting and treacherous battleground. Before long, Bennett, assisted only by his German shepherd and a crippled World War II veteran, finds he must once again overstep the traditional bounds of a policeman’s role in order to survive.
Tough, fast paced, and original, Dead In The Water introduced Bennett and Sam as unique characters with a keen eye for action.