Posted by Literary Titan
The Concrete Vineyard follows a homicide detective who finds himself at the heart of a deadly murder mystery case where his friend is the next target. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I wanted to write a novel about urban planning but didn’t know how to make it appealing to the masses. Usually, the only people who read urban planning books are other urban planners. So in order to make things interesting I decided to kill one of the most respected senior citizens in the town – Edward Mitchell, its modern day patriarch. He also happens to own one of the most coveted properties in the Old Town district. By having the pursuit of this man’s property become the central focus of the novel, I would be able to tie in characters in the land development industry (realtors, developers, planners, lawyers, politicians) with greed as a primary motive for his murder.
Bryan Dee is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
I knew that my main character (urban planner Kris Gage) would reveal and tackle the planning issues I wanted to raise in my novel but I needed another character to bring out the history component. I decided to cast my main detective (Bryan) as a former history major who doesn’t really care for his position as a police officer but he does experience enlightenment about what is happening to his former hometown. Fire plays an important role in the history and evolution of Niagara-on-the-Lake and Bryan’s understanding of the past is required to reveal this major storyline. A key message of the novel is you can’t plan for and be a good caretaker of a place if you don’t appreciate its history – like Bryan does.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I actually started this book as a non-fiction account of why the colonial charm of historic Niagara-on-the-Lake is eroding. With every passing year, more and more of its tree canopy is being etched away as homebuilders carve out more for infill development, poorly designed sites and subdivisions have become tragically normal, and traffic and congestion continue to increase. Meanwhile, the wine and hospitality industry is singularly focused on generating business and tourism as town administration council – bereft of vision and creativity at the best of times – continue to adopt a status quo that is no longer working. Like a big rig on a highway, it is difficult to slow down and even harder to turn around, so it’s easier to just keep it going in the same direction.
Greed is a common, if not ubiquitous condition in any town or city and it has hit its peak in the first capital of Upper Canada. From realtors to developers, homebuilders, winery owners and politicians to a flock of Torontonians who now call this town their own, they’re all padding their pockets at the expense of the greater good. While the themes of sustainability, good planning and historic preservation reign overtly in my novel, this book is actually about automobile dependency and addiction. If the town eventually decides to address this core issue, everything else will get better.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a lot of things on my bucket list. I’m surprised I even wrote one novel. If I find a good issue or a corrupt character who I feel like picking on, I might try to write another urban planning mystery.
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
The Concrete Vineyard by Cam Lang is a thrilling murder mystery, packed with wit, suspense, and historical undertones. The novel is set in Ontario, where on the occasion of Canada Day, a revered history professor, Edward Mitchell is found murdered. It becomes a point of heavy suspicion as to why someone would kill the 91-year-old man. Bryan Dee takes up the case hesitantly and pulls in his urban planner friend Kris Gage to assist him. But things take an unexpected turn when Bryan finds Kris’ name mentioned in the last diary entry of the deceased professor. What could be the motive behind the murder? Is the incident connected with the real-estate that Mitchell owned?
This is a story about past regrets, grief, and corruption, well-wrought into a comprehensive whole by the author’s brilliant prose style. The characters are minutely drawn, making it easy for the readers to understand their individual viewpoints with accuracy. The burden of regrets that each character carries, makes its way into the reader’s hearts, thanks to the sensible characterization. Set in Niagra-on-the-lake, the novel paints a vivid picture of the locale, with particular attention to small details. While reading the work, it feels as if the author is taking us on a journey of this picturesque town. The significance of preservation of historical places and responsible planning is one of the key themes that recur throughout the novel. The War of 1812 and Canada’s role in it are important driving forces in the plot. Packed with information and a high educational value, The Concrete Vineyard is able to have a strong grasp over the reader’s attention span from beginning till the end. The author’s real-life experience in the field of urban planning allows him to infuse authenticity into his debut novel.
The Concrete Vineyard is an in-depth localized touch, humorous exchanges, a highly interesting plot, and convincing resolution. The twists and turns in the storyline keep the readers glued to the pages. The book is a long one, but undoubtedly a delightful read. Cam Lang presents us with much more than just a regular mystery novel. For those who wish to know more about the historical backdrop of Canada without delving into the thick history books, this is a must-read.
Pages: 372 | ASIN: B08PJB3D6W
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Cam Lang, crime fiction, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, The Concrete Vineyard, thriller, writer, writing