“Wave of terror”: journey to the end of the winter

Photo: Annik MH de Carufel Le Devoir
Wave of terror is testimony to the life of the homeless complicated by the cold season.

It makes less account of the peculiarity of a city like Montreal when you live there every day. This is even more evident when we think of Montreal in the winter : the cold, the snow, the storms and the blowing snow whistling in the corners of the streets… It should be almost the eye of an outside observer to realize the oneness of it all. Especially when you add the miserable forts, cardboard homeless sleep near the rare sources of heat.


Here is an amazing book that tells of the beauty, the poetry and the dreadful hardness of the montreal winter that penetrate the cohort ghostly homeless. And it took the unique voice of an Irishman born in Cork and living here for us to seize the terrain so special.


Permanent relief


Even if Peter Kirby was awarded the prix Arthur-Ellis in 2016 for Open Season, his name is little known. It is known that he studied at McGill, he worked in a famous law office in montreal and he is a specialist in international law. Nothing that hints that it may describe as well the ballet of the snow blowers and plow trucks in the large arteries of the town centre…


Its history begins around the Holiday season, then one starts to find, in the subway, or near the mouths of the heat from the centre of the city, the cadavers of several homeless people. Quickly, you discover that they have all been poisoned with cyanide of potassium, and the chief inspector Luc Vanier is in charge of the investigation. It will follow first the track of the shelters in which to eat and sleep sometimes the homeless when the pressure of the winter is too strong ; at the side of these paupers, an army of volunteers is trying to reduce their suffering. One of those seems to have decided to put literally the end ; forever.


In this small closed area, the team of Vanier can be found full of war profiteers, and dirty tricks of all kinds, as if the lives of homeless people wasn’t already difficult ; little by little, the clues accumulate, and despite the pitfalls, it will be able to get their hands on the culprits. With its vulnerabilities, the character of the inspector Vanier is highly credible, as all the people around him, and who are not only there to give the reply. We hope to see him again, since it is he who also leads the investigation in Open Season… that still has not been translated.


The big surprise however comes from the quality of the writing of Peter Kirby — made outstanding by his translator. You will be struck by the character of incisive, precise, and profoundly original to the author, which allows you to search this difficult subject and approaching it really full-on, without compromise. With the first snows that settle, this is the perfect time to dive into this story that will surprise you.


I want more !

Wave of terror
★★★ 1/2

Peter Kirby, translated from English by Rachel Martinez, published by Linda Leith, Montreal, 2017, 310 pages