The Novels

The Novels

From The Author

Welcome to the blog for The Abby Faria Mysteries published by Sumach Press/CSPI. I am very interested in your
comments and questions. If you are having any trouble accessing these books, please let me know.
I am currently working on a third adventure with Abby.
This will take her deep into Toronto's Little Italy and, once again, she will find herself trying to help a very close friend.
I hope you enjoy the books and find this blog a helpful resource.
Have fun! I look forward to questions for Abby or Vivian.

Sincerely Vivian Meyer

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Review: Ragged Chain: Margaret Cannon: Globe Review

By Vivian Meyer, Sumach, 221 pages, $16.75

This is the second outing for budding Toronto PI Abby Faria, and it shows that Vivian Meyer is no one-book wonder. Faria's debut in Bottom Bracket, set in Toronto's Kensington Market, was a delightful romp. Ragged Chain, which takes us on a bike tour of one of British Columbia's gorgeous Gulf Islands, is just as clever, and Abby is as engaging a central character as one could desire.

The story begins with Abby, her friend Anita (the survivor from Bottom Bracket) and her boyfriend, Dr. Andy Jaegar, at the airport headed for a well-deserved holiday. Then Anita is terrified when she sees someone from her past ordeal. Is it possible that danger is still following her? Worse, the man is having an animated chat with Andy. When Abby intervenes, he seems a positive paean to the normal, cheerily recommending bike trails and fun visits.

Once installed on luscious Peregrine Island, Abby, Anita and Andy are ready for sun, scenery and fun, but there's the noxious odour wafting over from the nearby paper mill, and then the dead body of the local pulpwood magnate is discovered. Abby is soon up to her ears in ecological warfare and murder.

Review: "Beater" Thompson

Synopsis: Bottom Bracket is a great little murder mystery novel set in modern day downtown Toronto. The book centres around main character Abby, an independent female bicycle messenger from a family with a history of activism, namely preventing low income housing from being turned over to corporate-built condominiums. Abby chooses to ignore the risks and decides to help a young woman caught in the middle of a drugs-turf war after she witnesses the killing of a small-time dealer in the notorious Kensington Market area of the city. Not knowing who to trust among her friends, the relevant business people or the police, Abby sets out to solve the crime while at the same time saving the underdog witness from a villain-ridden life of exploitation and addiction, all the time trying to maintain her own tenuous hold on employment and meagre income. With a rush climax and surprise twist ending, Bottom Bracket is a nifty look at both the universal issue of the displacement of the disenfranchised from affordable housing, and an adept exploration of the intriguing lifestyle of the working bike courier in the big city.

Comment: A realistic portrayal of the nature of the urban bike messenger in extraordinary circumstances. Accurate discussion of the personality type, the nature of the job and the valued role of the bicycle in the lifestyle. Great descriptions of daily existence on the road and of the geography of Toronto. Touches on all the requisite topics to be believable, yet treats them in a manner that is still suitable for youth reading. Recommended and interesting to anyone wanting to know more about those folks you see zipping in and out of traffic everyday: why do they do it and where do they go after the work is done?

Review: Shelley Glodowski: Shelley's Bookshelf

Vivian Meyer writes from experience. Her life work is in an alternative school in downtown Toronto...Kensington Market as depicted in the novel is her own home neighbourhood.

Abby Faria is a college graduate with an upscale mom. But she is living in Kensington Market in inner-city Toronto. She works as a bike courier... a murder occurs almost on her doorstep...

Bottom Bracket is a compelling first novel, written with sensitivity and a matter-of-fact vision about the nature of poverty and the drug world. Abby Faria is a delightful heroine who stands still for no one and has a heart of gold. She is an obvious favourite within the confines of her world, and even her mother can't be angry at her. She is intelligent and hip, and her world quickly becomes the reader's as Meyer carefully leads us through Kensington Markets inhabitants, who form a funky co-op in watching out for one another.

Plot and action co-exist with Abby's thoughts as she races her way through her obligations and the realization that she is acting mostly alone. Abby steals our heats as she solves the murder; helps her friends; and even befriends one of the villains. An excellent first effort!

— Shelley Glodowski, Shelley's Bookshelf
MBR Bookwatch (June/07)

Review: Amy Lavender Harris: Spacing Magazine

Toronto's Kensington Market hosts fast-paced intrigue in Vivian Meyer's highly readable new mystery novel, Bottom Bracket. The double meaning of 'bottom bracket' (the lowest socio-economic echelon and the axle casing on a bicycle) comes vividly o life in Abigail Faria, a bike courier whose curiosity about a local murder brings her into contact with good and bad cops, corrupt developers, and friends whose underworld and upper-class connections, computer hacking skills, excellent coffee, and local solidarity combine to uncover dark deeds and bring their doers to a uniquely Kensington Market style of justice.

Bottom Bracket is an essential Toronto read. Deft and confidently written it is an important addition to the city's literature because it inverts gender and class dynamics and narrates the bottom bracket as having the capacity to harness the resources of the wealthy and powerful to their own ends, for a change.

— Amy Lavender Harris, Spacing Magazine
Winter/Spring 2007

Review: Margaret Cannon: Globe Review

This is a charming debut novel by Meyer, a teacher at a Toronto alternative school who lives in Kensington Market, that jewel of the city centre where you can get Nicaraguan coffee, Mexican pupusas, some of the best Quebec artisan cheeses, superb bread to serve it on and some exception vintage clothing to wear while serving it. Meyer managers to bring all that atmosphere into her story of murder and escape.

Abby Feria is a bicycle courier, a true free spirit. She's the thirty-something daughter of activists who fought the Toronto development wars, chaining themselves to buildings, ripping down hoardings. Now, her dad is out west sabotaging trees slated for the lumber trade and her mother has moved uptown so she's closer to her new processes for finding herself.

When a local drug dealer and pimp is killed near Feria's home, she's interested but not involved. Not, that is, until she finds a terrified young woman named Anita out in the alley, and it's clear Anita knows all about the murder. Even Abby doesn't know her reasons for hiding Anita, but she does, and that makes her part of the case. Also, her history, and that of her parents, are about to emerge as evidence.

Meyer makes a few first-novel bobbles. She rushes the plot and doesn't really make some aspects of the characters clear, but this is a solid debut. We expect Abby to peddle back in an even better book.

— reviewed by Margaret Cannon, 'Crime Books'
The Globe and Mail, Nov 11, 2006