To celebrate Valentines Day, the Killam Municipal Library, just up the road from us, decided to play matchmaker. “Going out on a blind date is a lot like opening up a new book – you never know what kind of experience you are going to have!” announced the library website.
I’ve never been on a blind date, but I decided to give this one a try. After all, it fit rather well with my New Year’s resolution. I stopped by the library during the first week of February and chose this one from a selection of similarly wrapped packages.
Filled with anticipation, I hastened home and I quickly unwrapped my “date”. It definitely wasn’t love at first sight! In fact, my initial response was disappointment. Kind of like imagining someone tall, dark and handsome, then opening the door to find a date who, at first glance, isn’t really attractive at all.
The idea of escaping to an exotic locale intrigued me, of course, but a quick look at the cover told me that the book was a mystery, not a genre that I’m particularly fond of. In fairness, though, I felt that I had to give my blind date a chance and so I began to read.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the message on the outside of my package was a clue to what was inside. “Start a new chapter in your life,” it said. Main character, Charlie Hillier, is a Canadian bureaucrat whose marriage has just fallen apart in a very public way. When the chance to start over by accepting a posting to the Canadian embassy in Havana comes up, he jumps at the opportunity to escape the embarrassment and get as far away from his ex-wife and his dead end job at Foreign Affairs headquarters in Ottawa as he can.
Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Nick Wilkshire is a lawyer living in Ottawa. Escape to Havana, published in 2016 is the first book in his Foreign Affairs Mystery series.
In spite of my initial apprehension, my date turned out to be fun. Escape to Havana is a light, but entertaining read. I’m not sure that an avid mystery fan would find it very satisfying, especially the rather far-fetched ending, but I enjoyed Wilkshire’s easy writing style and his sense of humour. He did a masterful job of bringing Havana to life. From the oppressive heat and humidity to the dilapidated buildings and ancient vehicles to the wonderful food, he gives his reader a real sense of modern day Cuba.
Would I go on another “blind date with a book”? As in real life, I would prefer to know who I’m going out with, but this was a fun experience, so yes, I probably would. For those who are really keen about the idea, there’s Blind Date with a Book.com. Subscribers receive a “blind date” once a month for six months based their favourite styles and genres. Me, I’ll just wait to see if the Killam Library does this again in the future.
Along with my “date”, there was a Rate Your Date form included in my packet. Everyone who returns the form with their book before February 28 will be entered in a draw. My “date” has gone back to the library and my fingers are crossed!