The Footprints of God – Greg Iles

The Footprints of God
by Greg Iles (Goodreads Author)
Edmond Gagnon‘s review Jan 20, 2022 


They say not to judge a book by it’s cover (and page count) but that’s exactly what I did with this novel, leaving it to linger on my ‘to read’ shelf at home for quite a while.
Now I’m glad I’ve read it and happily rate it five stars.
The intro had a bit puzzled as to plot and content but once I started flipping pages I was hooked. Greg Iles deserves kudos for keeping me interested for the whole 546 pages – the quick pace of the story never lagged throughout.
The story gets a bit complicated and deep at certain points but it was thought-provoking for me and I enjoyed the challenge.
Even the title was weird, I thought, but The Footprints of God is a good read that I highly recommend.

The Associate – John Grisham

The Associate
by John Grisham (Goodreads Author)
Edmond Gagnon‘s review Jan 14, 2022 


I could find no reason to give this book any less than five stars. Considering the page count, it was a quick and easy read. The plot was a bit intricate but it moved well and held my interest throughout.
The story was like an action thriller, without all kinds of killing and mayhem. Instead, the author relied on suspense and intrigue to keep the pace lively and exciting.
A legal story that lacks Grisham’s riveting courtroom drama, it gives readers a whole new take on what it’s like for a hungry young wannabe lawyer.
My only minor disappointment was how the story ended so abruptly…I was waiting for a unique twist or turn of fait, but it just ended. Still, it was a great read.

Cold Cases – Cheyna Roth

Cold Cases: A True Crime Collection: Unidentified Serial Killers, Unsolved Kidnappings, and Mysterious Murders (Including the Zodiac Killer, Natalee Holloway’s Disappearance, the Golden State Killer and More)
by Cheyna Roth
Edmond Gagnon‘s reviewJan 12, 2022  


This book was recommended to me by a friend and I’m disappointed that I had to pay the full purchase price. It was a decent read for those who like to follow notorious serial killers, but most of the content in the book is already public knowledge.
I did learn some new things, where the author had dug up parts of the old investigations that weren’t made public. And although she is a former district attorney, the book reads more like a gathering of media clippings presented as short stories by a former journalist – which the author is.
For those who’ve never heard of the cold cases in this book, I’m sure they’ll find it more interesting than I – a former police investigator who is well aware of most of the cases in this book.

Don’t Let The Vid Flu Ya

Covid 19 – has it become your youngest child who just won’t leave home. They keep promising to go, but continue to come up with an excuse to linger a while longer. At least you still talk to your kid, even if it’s mostly to ask if they’ve found their own place yet. But if you’re anything like me, you’re sick of hearing and talking about The Vid. That’s what Cathryn calls it, The Vid.

The buzz and belly aching and discussion of the pandemic of the century is partly the reason we fled to Mexico for the winter. Okay, you’re right, I’m full of shit. We definitely heard less about The Vid on our journey south…hard to believe when they recently hit a million cases in one day in the United States of Anarchists.

Only a day into our trip south, masks, social distancing, and all talk about the plague was virtually non-existent. Yet, when we crossed the border to Mexico, we found rules similar to those at home, without mass lockdowns. They took our temperature, sanitized us and required everyone to wear masks in any indoor places we visited.

Things are different everywhere you go and although you can’t actually see The Vid, it is all around us. Maybe they should sell masks that say ‘vid’ and ‘no vid’. How else can we tell is someone’s got it or had it. I think I had it. There, I said it. Is it okay to tell people? I feel like I’m publicly announcing I have AIDS. Stay back, he’s got The Vid!

You can call me a vaxer, conformist or even a sheep, since I got my two vaccinations, the booster, and my flu shot. I did it more for everyone around me than myself. But my throat started to bother me before we left home and I loaded up on vitamin C. No big deal, I thought, because I always get sick around the holidays, whether at home or away.

But what if I’ve got The Vid, I wondered. Because any cold or flu symptoms have to be The Vid – that’s how it disguises itself. Things didn’t get worse until a week later, in Mexico. Stuffy nose, sinus headache and congestion, and a really sore throat. Again, it couldn’t be The Vid, because I get these kinds of symptoms every year when I’m sick.

When I started needing two naps a day instead of one, I said to Cathryn, “I think I’ve got The Vid.” She looked at me as if I just told her I had terminal cancer. I responded that I googled the symptoms and mine matched perfectly, and that maybe I should get tested – you know, to see if I was one of those dirty people with the disease.

So, I slept on it and thought about it some more. All those yahoos in the bars and restaurants carrying on without masks, hugging and kissing and spitting in each other’s faces while Cathryn and I huddled at a table in the corner, away from the mayhem. If I didn’t have The Vid, it was only a matter of time. Isn’t that the real answer – let everyone contract the virus and build herd immunity?

After more thinking, I decided not to get tested. Not so much because I was on the mend after three shitty days, but because I’m calling myself a ‘Non-Tester’. I know I was sick, and it may or may not have been The Vid, so why do I need to spend my beer money on a test that will confirm to the rest of the world that I’m one of ‘those’ people, a statistic, someone who’s got The Vid. And as life goes on…so do I.

Snowbirds Who Drove to Mexico

Some of our friends already wonder about us when we tell them that we’ve chosen to spend our winters in Mexico. They worry about things like our safety and if our severed heads will end up displayed on a highway overpass for all to see. But this year, when Cathryn and I told everyone we were driving to Mexico, they looked at us as if we were from a different planet.

It’s not like I haven’t researched the idea or spoken to other snowbirds from places like Toronto, BC and Quebec who’ve made the trek more than once and lived to talk about it. So, with a bit of preparation and a good set of wheels like my Chevy Silver Bullet, why couldn’t we do it? That car has taken us to both of Canada’s coasts and back, so why not Mexico?

Of course this is me talking, the guy who travelled to S/E Asia and parts of South America with nothing but travel itinerary and backpack on wheels. Sure, Cathryn was a bit worried about things like scorpions and cartel hijackers, but she’s proven to be a trooper on our Harley trips around the continent. It’s not that she’s gullible and believes everything I tell her, she trusts me (so far).

And when she realized how much more she could bring by taking our car to Mexico, she made quick work of adding to her packing list. She had to consider what specialty foods and cookware to bring, instead of how many different outfits she could fit in her suitcase. After she had it all sorted out and in boxes, we went through it together and I cut it in half so we didn’t have to tow a trailer.

With the packing thing under wraps it was my job to plan the itinerary – the route we’d take to Sayulita, Mexico, how long we’d drive each day, and where we’d stop on the way to our final destination. According to Google Maps, it takes 40 hours to drive from Detroit to Sayulita, staying on major highways. That meant at least 5 days of driving for 8 hours. Easy peasy.

Our plan was to rent in Sayulita for the month of January, then in Melaque for February and March. So, I had to pick what date to leave home and an interesting place to spend NY Eve on the way south, without having to spend the night in a non-descript highway motel. December 29th became our departure date, after spending ample time with family over the holidays.

After rising with the birds, we ate our pre-made breakfast wraps gave Earl Grey hugs and kisses, and were on the road by 7am. Being only recently reopened, the tunnel to Detroit was a breeze with only two cars in front of us. Unseasonable mild weather meant clear roads, but we dealt with light and patchy fog most of the day. The mild temperatures stayed with us through Ohio, Kentucky and and Tennessee where fog turned into rain. It was better than snow, but driving in heavy rain after dark was nerve-racking.

I had hoped to inch further south on the map the first day but settled on Memphis for the night. The first day’s driving conditions took a toll on both of us and we wondered if we should make a planned pit stop near Austin, Texas to visit my old water polo coach. As it turned out, day two was better. There were some serious traffic jambs to contend with but my old map reading skills got us hooked up in time for an early dinner with my old friend.

The Alamo

We arrived in San Antonio, Texas early enough on the second night to take a short stroll for a well-deserved drink on the Riverwalk. Day three was NY Eve. We slept in, had a great breakfast out, the lolly-gagged around downtown San Antonio and it’s Riverwalk, taking in the sights. As the NY revellers took to the streets, we sat and people watched until calling it an early night without waiting for the ball to drop.

Being in San Antonio put us within easy reach of the Mexico border. Driving through the baron landscape made me wonder what those at the Alamo actually fought for. We crossed at the lesser-known Columbia bridge, something that looked like it was run by Barney Fife. We drove right through to the highway before realizing nobody stopped us for passports, visas, or the vehicle permit we needed to drive in Mexico. After turning around, to enter the country legally, we found ourselves the only visitors at the border crossing.

Day 4 had us cutting south-west across Mexico to a city called Torreon. The only difficult part of that day’s drive was trying to keep count of our toll fees – it’s quite expensive driving on Mexico’s safe highways – they are comparable to those in the U.S. with some things extra and some less. There aren’t many service centers along the way but emergency phones and even water is available every few kilometers. The Torreon hotel was basic but offered us the best breakfast omelets ever.

Day 5 was a shorter drive, but way more interesting than we had anticipated. Climbing the Sierra Madre mountains became breath-taking, a mountain range comparable to the Rockies without the snow-covered peaks. We lost track of how many bridges and tunnels we encountered, figuring there were at least fifty of each. By the time we started our decent on the western slopes, we were both a bit nauseous.

We arrived in Mazatlan before dinner. Our waterfront hotel was nothing fancy but the view from our room made it priceless. We even got to park on the road directly out front. Stopping is Mazatlan for 2 nites served a few purposes. First off, it broke up the drive, once again. And besides being on my Mexican bucket list, it got us to the Pacific coast where Sayulita was only another half day’s drive south.

The silver bullet looked dusty grey when we pulled into the garage at our Sayulita Airbnb on day 6. The odometer showed 4,000 kilometers or 2,500 American miles. After a couple of celebratory cervesas Cathryn and I agreed the drive wasn’t all that bad. There was that first long day of frayed nerves, but no high jackings or beheadings. Will we do it again next year? You’ll just have to wait and see.

The Rooster Bar – John Grisham

The Rooster Bar
by John Grisham (Goodreads Author)
Edmond Gagnon‘s reviewDec 22, 2021  ·  edit
liked it
Although I don’t think this book is one of Grisham’s best, it was still a good read. It wasn’t the type of courtroom drama we are used to with this author; the plot addresses the American legal system from a whole new angle-a story about three law students trying to work their way through law school, while accumulating massive student debt.
After suffering the loss of a close friend, the trio comes up with a unique plan to beat the system and work their way out of debt. Although their methods are immoral and illegal, it’s easy to sympathize with them. They make many mistakes along the way and there are enough twists and turns in this story to keep your interest.
Getting off to a slow start with this book, I found myself picking up my pace and actually enjoying it in the end.

Pomegranate Restaurant

It’s been too many years since I’ve visited the Pomegranate Restaurant in Windsor, and after eating there tonight, I’m disappointed I didn’t return sooner. The ‘Pomo’, as we used to call it, is still a family-run business serving excellent Chinese food to long time loyal customers. Take out business was brisk while Cathryn and I were there, with many obviously picking up dinner to bring home.

Back in the day, when I worked for a living, we took our lunch hours and completed reports in the back corner of the dining room. And on occasion, I’d loose money while playing cards with the staff after hours – all in fun, of course, since everyone is family there. It was nice to see some familiar faces and hear that Chef Henry was still in the kitchen, serving great food.

As with most Chinese restaurants, the menu is huge, but the wait staff is more than happy to help with your selection and very responsive to fine tuning your order. The wonton soup was hearty and served piping hot. The pork spring rolls were crispy, with a filling that reminded me of the inside of a tortiere. We had two each but wanted more.

Our two main dishes consisted of house special egg foo young and stir-fried veggies with all the goodies you can think of. And to top it off, besides the traditional fortune cookies, they gave us extra almond cookies. I forgot how addictive they are. The service was fast and friendly and prices are reasonable. Cathryn and I both give the Pomegranate a 9 out of 10, since nobody is perfect 🙂

Roast ‘N Toast Family Diner

My favorite memories of breakfast are when I ate at my grandparent’s house, where almost every meal was cooked in bacon grease or lard, on the stovetop in an old cast iron skillet. Bad for you, some would say, but my Pepe lived to 84. And he smoked. One of his specialties was something you rarely see in a restaurant these days – corned beef hash. I love the stuff.

I discovered a place called the MCM Restaurant many years ago, while working the Drouillard/Walker Road beat with an old war horse we affectionately called Hammer. At 2005 Ottawa Street, across from Juniper Books, it was a typical diner that served the type of good meals you’d get at home, for reasonable prices. I loved going there for breakfast, cooked on a grill that was directly behind the counter.

At some time in the not too distant past, the MCM closed and was replaced by Roast ‘N Toast. I smiled when I walked in the front door and recognized the same old bar stools at the counter, and cozy atmosphere of days past. The smell of bacon frying on the grill gives me great great pleasure, but when I saw corned beef hash on the menu I was ecstatic. It wasn’t quite the same as grandpa’s, probably because the grease wasn’t a month old.

Roast ‘N Toast is my kind of diner – they serve breakfast all day. Who says you can’t have bacon and eggs for lunch? My new favorite there is the Meat Lovers Skillet, piled high with ham, sausage and hamburger meat, eggs, cheese, and home fries. It easily fills me up, leaving no room for their sinful homemade butter tarts that stare at you from behind the counter.

The restaurant has suffered through Covid like the rest of us, but they added unique wooden partitions for privacy and social distancing. They also added outdoor seating. Each and every time I’ve been to Roast ‘N Toast, my meal has been perfectly cooked and delivered to my table by courteous and friendly staff who aren’t afraid to tweak your order to your liking. And if you’re a reader, be sure to keep your receipt for a 15% discount across the street at Juniper Books.

A Monte Christo special that I’ll be trying to order next time I’m there.

Shadow of the Sun

Shadow of the Sun
by Marney Blom (Goodreads Author)
Edmond Gagnon‘s review Nov 02, 2021 

A gift from my wife, I was a bit apprehensive about reading this book since I’ve read a few stories and seen many movies about POW camps during the war, and didn’t expect this tale to be any different. But the one big difference was that the protagonist was a preacher, who expected God to take care of him and watch over his family.

I had to skip the quotes from the holy bible, and even the love notes he wrote to his wife while imprisoned – they were of no use to me – I got the picture. But don’t get me wrong, this book was very well thought out and written by the grand daughter of the missionaries.

If you want to learn how average folk were ripped from their homes, imprisoned, tortured and treated worse than caged animals by Japanese soldiers, then this book is for you. I did enjoy references to the Burma railway and bridge over the River Kwai since I’ve seen the movie and travelled in the area.

The Last Duel

New movies are finally gracing the big screens again, and the cast and director of this film looked impressive. With all the hype about medieval television shows and movies, and the action-packed trailer, we went for it. Our first disappointment was with the uncomfortable old-style seats – how spoiled we’ve become with the more comfy recliners.

The Last Duel is set in France (although you’d never know it by the dialogue presented) in the 12th century, where armor-clad knights on horseback fought for king and country. The story is about two squires, Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), who become friends but then drift apart when one is favored by the king’s cousin (Ben Affleck), more than the other.

Things get worse when Le Gris allegedly rapes Carrouges’ wife (Jodie Comer) and she makes the decision to speak out. The movie goes above and beyond in explaining the repercussions of such a choice in chaotic medieval times. As a result of the allegation, Carrouges challenges Le Gris to a duel to death.

The movie is split into three chapters, each told by one of the main characters. This is where the film gets disjointed and a bit boring, forcing viewers to watch the same scenes over, and then over again. Although the trailer leads one to believe this is a Ridley Scott action-packed thriller, it is not the case. The movie opens and finishes with plenty of bloody battling but everything in between is quite slow.

Although Cathryn and I felt the acting was superb and the cinematography was excellent in this flick, we thought it fell short of being a blockbuster. She gave it a 7 and I a 6 out of 10.