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Pharo and the Murder at Smoke Lake, by Steve Skurka

“Another delightful outing for Pharo, this time investigating–between bouts of suffragette campaigning–a murder at a Canadian resort. Pharo brings all her usual brio to the task, with the hefty back up of Burford Simmons, her devoted attorney husband, and assorted assistants, including the maestro himself, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Pharo’s mysteries froth with charm, as she does, yet offer a satisfying depth of research and the immersive backdrop of turn-of-the-century America.”

– Marina Endicott, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and finalist for the Giller Prize

“If you want to read a compelling new mystery, search no further than Steve Skurka’s new novel. The indomitable Pharo Simmons has returned with her characteristic resilience, acuity, and relentlessness. As the Great War looms in Europe, Pharo, with the help of Arthur Conan Doyle, no less, is once again a wonder to behold as she solves a crime as hard as the gem at the very heart of it. Pharo and the Murder at Smoke Lake is a terrific second installment in what promises to be a rich and bold series.”

– Joe Kertes, winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and the U.S. National Jewish Book Award for Fiction

In the midst of the impending European war in July 1914, the renowned author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, embarks on a tour of Canada along with his wife, as guests of the Grand Trunk Railway. Their final weekend takes them to a log camp in Algonquin Park on Smoke Lake, where they are joined by Mason Caulfield, head of the railway, and Rudolph Mulino, a silent film actor.

Pharo Simmons, president of the Sherlock Holmes fan club in Buffalo, sets off for Toronto to interview Sir Arthur upon his return from the picturesque Smoke Lake, where the Doyles indulged in fishing and canoeing. However, the tranquility of the trip is shattered when one of their companions suddenly disappears and is presumed by the police to have drowned. The Doyles hastily plan to return to England, but not before Sir Arthur meets Pharo and enlists her assistance in unraveling the mystery that surrounds Smoke Lake. The author of the Sherlock Holmes books and stories suspects foul play and murder are afoot.

Together, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Pharo Simmons form an unlikely partnership to investigate the mysterious incident. Was it truly an accident, or a deliberate act of murder at Smoke Lake? The duo are determined to uncover the truth, expose the crime and identify the elusive killer.

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