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Two novels: African adventure and squirrel talk

Book Reviews
Left: Cover of Stalking Geraldine by Ray Wood. Right: Claire McCague, writer and scientist, read from her book at Vancouver’s VCON science fiction convention.

Stalking Geraldine, a novel by Ray Wood, is an engaging book that will appeal to diverse readers: to the armchair adventurer who has always dreamed of trekking across Africa in a fitted out Land Rover, or to gearheads who fathom the intricacies of the vehicle’s moving parts, and it will definitely appeal to those who fancy romance on a road trip.

Wood, who is an engineer and inventor currently living in West Vancouver, clearly knows Africa well and could probably fix Land Rovers with one hand tied.

The story follows writer Giles Jackson who accepts a plum assignment: he is to track down a ruggedly elegant Land Rover called Geraldine, a classic of its kind, because the vintage vehicle is to be shown alongside a newer model at a prestigious car show. Giles must buy it from its current owner, Sarah Oakes, if he can find her, since she is driving across Africa, leaving no forwarding address. Giles does some amateur sleuthing in England (the book uses British punctuation and spelling style, which might jar at first), and he finally sets off to the Dark Continent. While he hunts for the woman, he builds up a complex picture of the enigmatic Sarah based on information from her ex-lovers, friends, mechanics and even Horatio, her cat.

The book reads slowly at first, but comes alive when it hits Africa. If you’ve ever wondered how to fix your vehicle’s water pump while in a war in Eritrea or pondered how to winch a van out of muddy water, then this book is for you. 

Stalking Geraldine is a last hurrah for a small Garden Bay publisher, MW Books. Previously the publisher, William Gelbart, offered several books by local authors: Michael Maser (Gold Mad) and Heather Conn (Gracie’s Got a Secret) among them. Gelbart says that after 14 years of book publishing, he is forced, with regret, to close up shop.

“The increasing printing and shipping costs, low Canadian dollar, large discounts demanded by distributors, high cost of promotion, all are factors,” he said. “During the last few years, the traditional role of a publisher is continuously eroded by mega-distributors such as Amazon and Apple who amalgamate both roles of the publisher and distributor into one. While it is easier for the writer to have any book published, in the absence of a publisher, the quality of published books – in both the text and book design – suffers, while the art and practice of professional editing disappears.”

Order the book from Wood’s website at or ask for it at local bookstores.


The man who can talk with a host of adoring squirrels is in demand. Estlin (Lindie) Hume has a unique rapport with animals, and he has been commanded to use his mind-reading talents to communicate with aliens in a sci-fi novel, The Rosetta Man (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing). The quirky book is written by Claire McCague, a part-time resident of Davis Bay.

Lindie is a tortured character and an outcast because of his animal following that annoys the neighbours and his employers. He is flown from his Alberta farm to New Zealand in a hush-hush military operation where he is introduced to two mysterious creatures who have recently landed on the planet. The creatures take a liking to him, but unfortunately that puts him, as their translator, at risk – from ambitious scientists, government officials and even an experimenting doctor. The Rosetta Man is as entertaining as it is scientifically fascinating.

McCague is a writer, scientist and folk musician whose day job is fabricating nano-structured materials. Why does someone with a doctorate in chemistry write a novel? She has many interests: “After high school, I decided I wanted a science day job rather than an arts day job to support my creative endeavours [writing and music],” she said. “I was fortunate to have an understanding graduate supervisor, as during my doctorate, I performed regularly with a dance band, as well as writing and directing numerous plays.”

The Rosetta Man, print version, is available through and can be ordered from local bookstores. The e-book is widely available on e-reader devices.