1 January 2011

Review: MIDNIGHT CAB, James W. Nichol

Originally published in Canada in 2002 by Alfred A. Knopf
this edition published by Canongate
ISBN 1-84195-792-5
337 pages
Source: I bought it.

Publisher's blurb

A terrified three-year-old boy is found clinging to a wire fence at the side of a country road. The only clue found by authorities as to the child's identity is a photograph of two little girls and a letter.

Sixteen years later, Walker Devereaux is in Toronto to discover the truth about his biological mother. Working as an after-hours cabdriver, Walker befriends Krista, a smart-alecky, wheelchair-bound night dispatcher. Together, they search for a key to Walker's past. But their after-hours sleuthing veers them ever closer to another who has become the embodiment of desperate, violent, and sinister pathologies.

My take:

This is a novel with an interesting structure. Running parallel with the story of Walker Devereaux is the story of Bobby, a boy with real social problems. With great persistence Walker searches for his mother, following leads gleaned from the only items found on him. The year before, when he turned 18, he was allowed access to his custody files. As the book progresses we learn that there is some connection between Walker and Bobby - why else would we be told Bobby's life story? - but there are a few red herrings before we learn the truth.

I had a some problems with the time frame of the book. The author has indicated on some chapters what year these events are taking place in but I couldn't always make the time elapsed synch with these dates.

But it is a very readable story.

My rating: 4.5

Other reviews:


In 2002, Knopf Canada published the Ontario author’s first book: Midnight Cab, about a young Toronto cabdriver attempting to solve a mystery from his past. “The book was just kind of thrown out there,” recalls Nichol, “and throughout the process, Knopf [kept] telling me that they weren’t sure it was going to be a crossover success. And it wasn’t.” Though Midnight Cab earned some good reviews and won the Arthur Ellis Award for best first crime novel, it ended up selling only a few thousand copies and then pretty much disappeared. More

MIDNIGHT CAB was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger in 2004.

One of the best series airing as part of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's The Mystery Project is Midnight Cab", which was aired in three runs of 13 episodes, 9 episodes, and 13 episodes (making a total of 35 episodes for the series).  The first series probably ran in 1992, with the second series going into 1993-1994. The novel published in 2002 is a pre-quel to the radio series, and gives background to the central character, Walker Devereaux and his wheel-chair bound girlfriend Krista.  More

I read MIDNIGHT CAB for #8 in the


Anonymous said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review. Parallel time frames can be quite tricky. Must admit I haven't tried that, myself.. Still, this does sound like an interesting book. I agree; it seems to have a very interesting structure...

Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

Agree with Margot. An interesting structure even if not a completely satisfactory book.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you liked it, Kerrie. It was a bit different (maybe the structure, but also the setting and perspective) from many other books I've read this year. The fact that it arose from a series of radio plays about the cab garage is perhaps relevant, as I found those sections did not really gel, which they may have done had I known the characters from the series.


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