Well Read: Sam Wiebe, author of “Ocean Drive”

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      If you like crime fiction, chances are you’ve cracked open a Sam Wiebe tome. The award-winning local author frequently sets his stories in our corner of the world, mixing classic mystery tropes with the realities of life on the Pacific Coast—and making the case that the 604 is as valid a setting for complex mysteries as any Brooklyn street or New Mexico desert. 

      His latest work, Ocean Drive—which was released on April 20—contrasts the high-stakes violence of multinational crime gambits with the relative quiet of small-town White Rock. Influenced by local crime reporting juggernaut Kim Nolan, international port smuggling lies at the heart of a narrative that’s by turns gripping and explosive.

      Wiebe gets real on his favourite 19th-century authors, the happiest commuters, and the scourge of literary edgelords.

      Tell us about yourself. 

      My name is Sam Wiebe. I’m the author of a series of books about a Vancouver detective named Wakeland. The latest is Sunset and Jericho. I also wrote Ocean Drive and edited Vancouver Noir, and write a newsletter.

      What’s something you want everyone to know about you? 

      My latest novel, Ocean Drive, is set in White Rock/Surrey and the ports. It’s sort of a Pacific Northwest Fargo, with characters on both sides of the law. And currently a BC bestseller.

      I also write under the pen name Nolan Chase. A Lonesome Place for Dying is a small-town detective story set in Washington State, a bit like Longmire. It comes out May 8.

      What’s one book that changed the way you think? 

      Keeper’n Me by Richard Wagamese. Brilliant and accessible and funny and honest.

      What are you currently reading?

      Dirtbag by Amber A’Lee Frost (audio), Last Woman by Carleigh Baker (print).

      What’s your favourite book to give as a gift? 

      Helpmeet by Naben Ruthnum. He’s a formidable writer of literary fiction, criticism, and thrillers, and keenly versed in weird fiction and horror. In the short span of a novella, he’s able to conjure up something truly unique and disquieting.

      How would you describe your book tastes? 

      Small-c catholic. I’ll read anything, but I’m partial to old detective novels, the Victorians, presidential biographies, and history.

      What’s one book you can’t wait to read? 

      The final volume of Robert Caro’s Lyndon Johnson biography. Also the third book in Kris Bertin and Alexander Forbes’s Hobtown series of graphic novels.

      What’s one book you thought you’d love but didn’t (or vice versa)? 

      I didn’t expect to like Jane Austen, but Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are funny and well-paced, and preoccupied with the material world and economics. She’s a great storyteller.

      Favourite book store in Vancouver? 

      Pulpfiction strikes the perfect balance between being socially engaged and running a fun, infinitely browsable bookshop—and with any signed book of mine you buy there, a portion goes to a worthy local charity. 

      Favourite local author? 

      Eve Lazarus. A great historian and true crime writer whose work has made a difference. She doesn’t exploit or sensationalize her subjects.

      Controversial: are you someone who has to finish every book you start, or can you abandon ones that aren’t working for you? 

      If the author seems wiser than me, I feel an obligation to finish. If they’re a bad stylist, or affecting an edgy persona, I drop them faster than a national coffee chain drops a unionizing barista.

      What’s one book you wish you wrote? 

      Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. “It's a fine world, though rich in hardships at times.”

      Where’s your favourite place in Vancouver to read? 

      The SkyTrain. Readers are the only commuters in a good mood—have you noticed?