Nat Lawson

Created by John McFetridge

Oh, John, you’re such a tease…

If there’s one thing that gets my shamus senses tingling, it’s a Montreal private eye.

And Toronto author (and Montreal ex-pat) McFetridge delivers just enough with the short story “Barbotte” to get me all hot and bothered.

It’s 1946, and NAT LAWSON is just back from the war, biding his time, working for Ma Bell and stringing phone lines for local bookies sous la table, feeling a little numb, trying to carve out a place in a world that seems pretty dull after “five years in the North Atlantic.”

Fortunately, Montreal’s still a wide-open city, full of jazz clubs, barbotte joints, gambling dives, blind pigs, taverns and assorted other venues of vice, and that suits Nat just fine.

So when Leah, the sister of Nat’s pal Sid Aidelbaum, a local bookie, asks him to play private eye, he jumps at the chance. Especially after it looks like someone’s playing Nat for a patsy.

There’s some great local colour, and the period detail is spot-on (Jackie Robinson’s imminent breaking of the colour barrier playing for the Montreal Royals down at DeLorimier Stadium is a major part of the plot). But it’s just a snippet of a story, barely an appetizer. I’d love to see Nat do a little more. maybe one day…



One of Canada’s best crime authors and a fellow refugee from the ‘Park, McFetridge is the author of the thrillers Let It Ride, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere and Dirty Sweet, all set in Toronto, and the acclaimed Eddie Doherrty series, featuring the growing pains of a young, ambitious Montreal cop in the late sixties and seventies, and has recently started a potential new series about Toronto location scout/private eye Gord Stewart.




Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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