Undertow, featuring Royal Canadian Mounted Police constables Cal Dion and Dave Leith, is the second novel in the B.C. Blues police procedural series by R. M. Greenaway. The detectives are recently assigned to Vancouver. For Leith, Vancouver is his first assignment outside the rural British Columbia city of Prince Rupert. For Dion, it is a homecoming after being assigned to quiet Prince Rupert for a year following an auto accident that caused him severe head trauma. The men share a common dislike for each other, and Dion, the more interesting of the two, has a shady past, a whiff of corruption about him, and an uncanny ability to make abstract connections during investigations.
On their first day on the job a murder spree hits North Vancouver. An electrician is found murdered at the side of a rural highway. His wife and daughter are found dead in their sparse apartment. But the killings are a puzzle since the family is new in town with no apparent enemies. When another body surfaces, a prominent North Vancouver businessman who has been tortured and asphyxiated in his own home, it is unimaginable that the murders are linked, except as the investigation unfolds, a link clearly develops.
Undertow is a smooth and entertaining procedural. The mystery is plotted less to hide the identity of the killer, or even the connection between the murders, than to keep the killer’s motive from the reader. A whydunit is more apt a description than a whodunit and it works surprisingly well. Leith’s and Dion’s conflict is disappointingly bland since they share only a few scenes, but Dion’s past—as seen from his murky, amnesiac-fueled memories—adds a gritty sense of unease to the narrative.