Last of the Independents: Vancouver Noir by Sam WiebeLast of the Independents: Vancouver Noir by Sam Wiebe

Last of the Independents: Vancouver Noir

bySam Wiebe

Paperback | August 30, 2014

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2015 Kobo Emerging Writer's - Winner, Fiction
2015 Arthur Ellis Award - Nominated, Best First Novel
2012 Unhanged Arthur Award - Winner, Best Unpublished First Crime Novel

What do a necrophile, a missing boy, and an unsavoury P.I. have in common? Private detective Michael Drayton is about to find out..

Twenty-nine-year-old Michael Drayton runs a private investigation agency in Vancouver that specializes in missing persons - only, as Mike has discovered, some missing people stay with you. Still haunted by the unsolved disappearance of a young girl, Mike is hired to find the vanished son of a local junk merchant. However, he quickly discovers that the case has been damaged by a crooked private eye and dismissed by a disinterested justice system. Worse, the only viable lead involves a drug-addicted car thief with gang connections.

As the stakes rise, Mike attempts to balance his search for the junk merchant's son with a more profitable case involving a necrophile and a funeral home, while simultaneously struggling to keep a disreputable psychic from bilking the mother of a missing girl.

Sam Wiebe's Last of the Independents won the 2012 Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished First Novel. His crime fiction has been published internationally. Recent projects include audio adaptations of Hamlet and Frankenstein, an independent film script, and a follow-up novel. He lives in Vancouver.
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Title:Last of the Independents: Vancouver NoirFormat:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8 × 5 × 0.86 inPublished:August 30, 2014Publisher:DundurnLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1459709489

ISBN - 13:9781459709485

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Last of the Independents I ejoyed the first 3-4s of this story, especially the lively dialogue, but then things got grim and gross.
Date published: 2015-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I couldn't put this book down! Probably one of the greatest opening pages that I have ever read. A genuinely great read which is tough to put down. Michael Drayton is one heck of a character. You must read this book.
Date published: 2014-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Will keep you reading late into the night! Funny and engaging, a great read. I don't often read crime fiction, but I really enjoyed this book and couldn't put this book down! Interesting characters and well-paced plot. It also really captures the feel of the pacific north-west. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2014-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sam Wiebe reinvents Sam Spade This isn't just a great debut detective novel, it's a great detective novel. Gritty, hilarious, brutal and compassionate. A compulsive read. Looking forward to more Vancouver Noir.
Date published: 2014-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Please sir I want more Drayton! Someone once told me that time is often wasted on just reading. Reading is supposed to be enjoyable. If you don't like a book, put it down, don't waste your time. Thus started my many affairs with books. This has been the first book I have read all the way through in the past decade. I have to admit: after finishing "The Last of the Independents " I didn't want to accept it was over. At moments, I felt like a stalker peering into the private and professional life of Detective Drayton. Alongside him I have seen Vancouver changed; we spent many sleepless nights solving this mystery together, with me in the background passing judgement. In the end I didn't want to let go, I felt a sense of loss, wondering what would happen to Detective Drayton. Maybe time will tell if there's another book in the works?
Date published: 2014-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A New Vancouver Voice I'm not a regular reader of crime fiction, but in "Last Of The Independents" Sam Wiebe locates a mix of insight, action, and wit which should appeal to die-hards as well as trainspotters like myself. Wiebe's themes are certainly heavy ones (we're ill-equipped to deal with death and worse equipped to deal with uncertainty), but these are interwoven with snappy dialogue and well-drawn characters. The discontinuity between these two makes for a sometimes abruptly dynamic reading experience, but that's exactly the sort of duality PI Michael Drayton tries to impart to his readers and friends: detective work is utterly mundane and day-to-day, until suddenly it isn't. On a similar note, as a Vancouverite I loved reading a novel that cast my city in a light that was both familiar and utterly alien. The streets and parks read exactly as they are, yet are connected to a world few of us (thankfully) experience. A fantastic debut.
Date published: 2014-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hard-Boiled Vancouver One caveat: I know Sam Wiebe personally. He was my student when I was a TA at SFU in the Fall 2008 term. I haven't seen much of him in the intervening years, and this is the first of his writing I've experienced since marking his assignments six years ago. Reading is part of my job description, and this is not the first time I've read something written by someone I know; I do my best to remove my subjectivity, just as I ask my students to do. Now my review: This is the debut novel of Vancouver writer Sam Wiebe, and the first in his proposed Vancouver Noir series following the cases of Michael Drayton, former Vancouver Police (VPD) officer and current independent private-eye. Independents was the unanimous winner of the Unhanged Edgar Award in 2012, an award given for the best unpublished mystery novel in Canada. Fortunately for us, Dundurn picked up Wiebe?s book, and we can now settle down to an evening or two of highly entertaining modern noir. Drayton is a private detective, the self-proclaimed "Last of the Independents." This is likely an homage to The Pretenders 1994 album, which fits right in with Drayton's age and type - 29, and a bit of an outsider. His friends and his work are completely indivisible - they either work for him, or are his work. Drayton's life is complex, and nothing about him is easy. He's sympathetic yet flawed, honest to a fault, hard as nails, yet unable to euthanize his direly ill dog. Drayton's personality is where the novel absolutely shines. He's a true warrior on the streets, if a reluctant one. Never claiming to be more than he is, his well-developed sense of justice and a clear understanding that the world isn't divided up into Manichean black and white means that he can easily shift between the worlds of official Vancouver and its darker alleyways, speaking the language he needs to be able to deal with cops, bosses, and bagmen. No rose-colored glasses on Drayton's eyes - he sees all the world's shades of gray. And despite his sense of honor and justice, when facing his own heart of darkness, Drayton can - and does - make the difficult decisions that define a person. I think that terms like "tour-de-force" and "triumph" are bandied about far too easily in reviews, especially by those looking to get their copy on the front of a book or magazine. I've never used those terms myself, but here I think they do apply - Wiebe's debut novel shows a masterful touch, an awareness of the giants whose shoulders he is standing upon, and a great deal of promise for his new Vancouver Noir series. I look forward to reading more of Michael Drayton's investigations in the future.
Date published: 2014-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenomenal Without indulging in rote Canadiana, Sam Wiebe delivers a well-written, impeccably paced mystery which is still irrevocably Canadian in its sensibilities. The lead character, Michael Drayton, is sometimes witty, sometimes moralistic, but always compelling. Dynamic sidekicks and antagonists throw up obstacle after obstacle and the reader is always kept intrigued by Drayton's methods of circumvention. A great read.
Date published: 2014-08-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Impressive New Crime Fiction Sam Wiebe?s Last of the Independents is an impressive first novel, and the winner of the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Unpublished First Novel. The story follows Michael Drayton, a private investigator in Vancouver whose cases, past and present, take a terrible toll on his own psyche. Nevertheless, he retains a sense of decency and tries to keep a focus on his moral compass while navigating the pitfalls of a terribly corrupt justice system. His cases run the gamut of tracking down missing children to drug dealers to necrophiliacs, and the lines between them blur as the tension mounts and Drayton is drawn ever deeper into a web of deceit, violence, despair, and psychic trauma, as he struggles to maintain a sense of balance even as his personal life crumbles. In Wiebe?s skilful hands, the plot unfolds in flashes and fragments, and we are riveted as it speeds towards its shocking conclusion. The characters, setting, and plot are undoubtedly noir, and illustrate the author?s easy familiarity with the genre. However, he is equally adept at sidestepping the trap of stereotype and clich?, retaining throughout a clear sense of irony and providing an intelligent and consistent critique of a society which blunders forward without reflection. Wiebe is a serious writer with serious concerns and serious questions, who challenges his reader to confront head-on the ethical and moral dilemmas the novel presents. However, he does not proselytise, and never loses either his humility or his humour. So, while his characters illustrate the sad, sorry, seedy side of society, he does not, for example, imply a judgment of them; instead, he strives for understanding, exploring the myriad causes behind how they got to where they are, not least the cause behind Drayton?s own path and reasons for being the way he is. Ultimately, it is the characters? humanity with which we empathise, because, with all their failings, they reflect the infinite ways in which we ourselves are human ? not simply good or simply bad, but complex beings who must find our way with whatever tools we?ve been handed. Sam Wiebe?s Last of the Independents is a polished and refreshing addition to the growing canon of crime fiction in Canada ? definitely a writer to watch.
Date published: 2014-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant Debut Novel This is a truly excellent novel. It's as dark (if not darker) than many of the great classics of noir, but it's also hilarious and has a host of perceptive insights that take your mind in different directions (the morality of having sex with a corpse, for example, or the virtues of Speed over Citizen Kane). All of these things add great depth to the novel instead of distracting you from the story, which is what happens in a lot of good but overly-ambitious novels. Wiebe has mastered it in his first novel. And then there's that ending.... The writing is wonderful. It's curt like Hemingway's style, but it flows very well. There are passages that display the full talent of Wiebe's ability and promise as a writer. It's not a beach read or a Sunday thriller. It's great literature. Yes, it's entertaining and will keep you in great suspense, excitement and anticipation. But there's something else to it too. Read it and you'll know what I mean. A fantastic debut novel.
Date published: 2014-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from TRES NOIR, BRILLIANT, IT WILL CONSUME YOUR LIFE I preordered this book from my local store because I hoped it would be a real page turner. I was right. Best read on a rainy day, imagine your are in the seedy under belly of one of Canada's great metropolises'. The characters are so real that they are my twenty something friends. May seem like a easy read but around every corner there lies a clever pop culture reference. You might even learn a new word or two! Highly recommend, stop reading this and start reading The Last of the Independents !
Date published: 2014-08-19

Editorial Reviews

Opening paragraphs don't get much more bang-on enticing than the one with which Vancouver writer Sam Wiebe kicks off Last of the Independents. It would be nice to quote the paragraph to prove the point, but in a general-interest newspaper, that can't be done - which is a clue to the opener's perfect rambunctiousness. - The Tribune