Max Dexter

Created by Chris Laing

MAX DEXTER is a former Mountie and WWII vet who came back from overseas with a bum leg, now working as a private eye, going down the mean streets of post-war Hamilton, Ontario in Canada, a hard town now–a hard town then.

They don’t call it “The Hammer” for nothing.

Max (who narrates) and his easy-on-the-eyes partner Isabel O’Brien work out of their office on King Street, keeping their heads low, working domestics mostly, but together they dish up the all the goods you’d expect in a series like this: the snappy patter, the tough-as-steel attitude, a sufficient helping of the rough stuff, and all the local colour you can eat. Yep, the author isn’t shy about slathering on the nostalgia pretty thick, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, when it’s handled this well. A rockin’ little series.

The debut, A Private Man (2012) was an Arthur Ellis Award finalist, while the second in the series, A Deadly Venture (2014) scored the 2015 Kerry Schooley Award (presented by the Hamilton Arts Council), which is high praise indeed.

Damn, I miss Kerry.


Hamilton’s own Chris Laing worked in private business for twenty-odd years before joining the Department of the Secretary of State and National Museums of Canada until his retirement. In the past number of years he has expanded his long-time interest in detective stories and began writing the stuff. His short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Hammered Out, as well as a number of online journals, and his collection of short stories about growing up in Hamilton, West End Kid: Tales from the Forties, was published in 2013.


  • “Laing has a deft ear for forties lingo and a great eye for the small details that make a historical novel truly great. Anyone from Hamilton will get a kick out of the old places and names, along with the really solid historical feel.”
    — Margaret Cannon on A Devious Dame (The Globe and Mail)



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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