Book Review: Demons, the Great White North, and the Blind Detective
Reviewed by Alexandria Ducksworth
This original mystery has super-geniuses, talking animals, blind detectives, demons, and your name written all over it.
Shawn Adair Johnston knows how to pen something unique. Demons, the Great White North, and the Blind Detective begins with a strange fellow causing havoc in a small quiet town. Investigators from the outside world soon venture in.
One of the first captivating images Johnston manifests is the setting: Inupiak, an Inuit settlement in the Canadian Yukon Territory.
People in Inupiak have been disturbing the town’s residents and killing their beloved huskies. Peter Straw, Watson (his talking dog), and a crew of Canadian mounties round up to the area to see who is responsible.
Soon, Peter and the gang are in a race against time to try and stop a mysterious super-human A.I. before the world ends up in a grand nuclear warfare. Oh, and did I mention demons? The paranormal flair to this novel is a nice touch.
I love the Inuit mystery side of the novel with characters like Akaga the shaman and Anantok the runaway. With too many mysteries set in big American cities and cozy New England towns, this minority-led paranormal mystery is refreshing to me. One of the best elements of Johnston’s story is his characters. They’re not all the same, and they’re definitely not all human. Detective Peter Straw is blind with a long line of solved cases in his portfolio. With a sharp “third eye” and undeniable intelligence, we feel confident he can solve anything he can’t see.
Watson is Detective Straw’s loyal talking dog on his way to receiving his high school diploma. Think of Dug from the Disney movie Up except with a higher academic background. He may still have his canine attributes, but occasionally he does whip up a bit of wisdom behind his bark.
Aristotle Jones is one of the first intelligent chimpanzees to be solving cases. He carries discussions about Christianity, Buddhism, and the soul. While they are solving the gritty Inupiak case, Aristotle is on a spiritual mission to find the truth about the existence of souls in animals.
Another great asset of Johnston’s Demons is the mix of the paranormal, mystery, and sci-fi all in one big pot. The story begins as a mystery. A reader is on the road to the usual arcs they expect out of the genre, but Johnston twists the reader’s expectations with a splash of sci-fi, adding in the American Space Force and supercomputer artificial intelligences. When you think that is all the book will entail, Johnston then adds the paranormal with Inuit mysticism, mythology, and demons. It is a delightful mix, making the book all the more appealing.
I’d be happy to read more mystery novels like Johnston’s Demons. The book is fun, unexpected, and really thought-provoking. Besides being mysterious, it brings up a load of insightful questions about souls, if animals have them, and even computers.
Throughout the novel, there is a noticeable conflict between pure logic and mysticism. This book is more than about a gritty case up in the Arctic; it is a story about the ever-lasting debate between spirit and our science-based physical reality. I never thought I would come across something like this in a casual mystery. It may get a little hard to follow at times with the switching narratives, but it’s worth it in the end.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Paranormal
Print Length: 294 pages
Thank you for reading Alexandria Ducksworth’s book review of Demons, the Great White North, and the Blind Detective by Shawn Adair Johnston! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.