IndieReader ★★★★

THE CONCRETE VINEYARD by Cam Lang is intriguing and chock-full of unique ponderings in the guise of a murder-mystery, while offering an in-depth look at urban planning/development through fresh, insider eyes.


Someone has killed Edward Mitchell before the sale of his historically-significant property in THE CONCRETE VINEYARD by Cam Lang.

It’s an innovative idea to focus a murder mystery upon the nefarious twists and turns that take place within local government planning/politics, and author Cam Lang creates just such a debut novel in THE CONCRETE VINEYARD with aplomb. A retired planner, urban designer, and development manager himself, the writer comes to this adventure well-versed regarding the hidden activities and motivations that can at any given time be at play behind the scenes in an ever-tricky dance between people and settings within the scope of urban/rural development. Links between planning and history/heritage are woven throughout the plot, for instance, providing much food for thought.

The tale opens with Edward Mitchell’s last day on Earth, and rather than feeling upset about sudden death arriving at the hands of another, the retired history professor feels delight that his long, interesting life is now ending in an equally extraordinary manner. And on an appropriately significant day: July 1, Canada Day; the day the nation is busy celebrating its 150th anniversary. Without giving too many plot twists away, many of the story elements revolve around the impending sale of Edward’s historic mansion that has been in his family since the late 1700s. Part of the magnificent house survived the fierce and fiery War of 1812, back when Canada was a colony of Great Britain in the process of being invaded by the Americans. Even though he’s past 90 and has no heirs, Edward Mitchell surely does not want to see the place fall into the wrong hands now, for what is the true value of a property that once had Camp Niagara spread out right before its front door? Featuring Seamus O’Reilly, a 40-year-veteran in the world of real estate, Kris, an urban planner specializing in the retrofitting of suburbia plus main street revitalization, and Kris’s old school chum Detective Bryan Dee who basically uses his career in law enforcement to support other passions like golf, this novel shines a light on the great irony that even those who authentically love their location/communities can oft times be entirely oblivious to the costs of human life upon it.

~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader

January 13, 2021