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The Emily Taylor Mystery Series

 

Book 1: The Bridgeman
    Within the landscape of a quiet, sleep village in Ontario, Canada, the murder of the school caretaker horrifies the townspeople.  For Emily Taylor, the principal, her discovery of the body and violence of Nathaniel’s death bring back memories of a time and place that she would rather forget.  The school is closed for the remaining few days of the year.  But have the authorities played into the hands of a murderer?

Throughout the story, Emily consistently makes decisions that create suspicion of her motives and bring attention to herself and to her husband – precisely the opposite of Emily’s goal.  Her actions also drive her, unwittingly, into the snare of a killer.

Although the mystery is at the centre of this story, it is also about the complexities that surround all people and about the conclusions that might erroneously be drawn about others.  The revelations about guilt, love, and the masks that people wear are completely shocking and unexpected.

Book 2: Victim
The prints raced around the tree, not once, but exactly twenty times, in ever-widening, almost precise, circles.  Veering off directly toward the forest, the footprints became further apart, obviously running.  Abruptly, the trail ended at the edge of Bahswaway Pond. Quietly, Frieda inched along the edge of the pond, studying every twig of every bush along the way.  Her feet slid over the ice without a sound; her lithe body brushed against nothing as she maneuvered through the trees.  A short distance along, Frieda found the first evidence.  It was a small bit of fur, drenched with dried blood, caught on a twig of one of the bushes.  The fear grew larger and pulsed through Frieda’s head.  It was the fur of a bear that she held in her hand.

Thus begins the mystery of the disappearance of May's Aunt Oona Nabigon and the appearance of the legendary Walking Bear.  Emily Taylor, once more drawn into the unknown, must face her own secrets and fears to discover a way to unravel the mystery before there is more violence and bloodshed. 

 

Book 3: Legacy


    This third book in the series is multi-layered.  There are six recurring “voices”, all centering on some kind of search.  One character is a mysterious woman, who, because of her pregnancy, wants to uncover her roots.  For Emily Taylor, it is the search to discover a way to assist a very troubled family, whose nine children attend her school.  Another voice is that of a child who is being abused; a voice that turns out to reflect two distinct characters.  A new personality to the series is also introduced: that of Jacob Finch, a lawyer whose past has been difficult, but whose involvement in this mystery is vital.  Alain Reneaux, May’s husband, is a recurring figure in the series.  In this book, he is troubled by his own past and begins to search for his roots as well.  As the stories evolve, it becomes apparent to the reader that all the events and people are interrelated.

A shocking revelation about two of the main Emily Taylor Mystery Series characters, the exposure of a church that has become an evil cult that will stop at nothing, including murder, to regain their power, and the resolution of the bones found in the well in Book Two, are enough to keep any previous readers of the series riveted.  However, the book can also stand alone, as its themes are both current and universal.

Reviews for the Books:

..had your publications fit within the (newspaper) policy, I would have chosen both Victim and Legacy as 2 of my top 10 books for 2008. That is how strong the writing is in my opinion.

Don Graves, Hamilton Spectator 


Hey Cathy!  Finished Legacy yesterday!!  Well done.You are such a talented writer. Case in point...despite the dark subject matter, I found it difficult putting it down. I was reading on the subway, going to and from work and nearly missed my stop a few times because I was so engrossed in the stories (and there were certainly a lot of different stories within 1 story!) It seemed like every mystery beget another mystery...with everything coming full circle. You developed one story line after another and somehow managed to connect them all despite the feeling that they were all very separate, unconnected stories. It was kind of like reading several different stories/novels...at least that's how I felt.
You build such rich characters. In fact, I find myself really craving these characters be brought to life on film. I'm very much a visual person, not much of a reader. Even so, you put so much information and detail in every sentence that I had to keep going back and re-reading so I didn't miss something important...that's why it took so long for me to read it. To steal one of your sentences...."...stretching out the words so that each one is infused with far more than a single syllable; they are whole sentences of meaning unto themselves"....That's what you do with the written word. It must be an exhausting process for you because you pack every sentence with so much! I'm embarrassed to say that I did have to open a dictionary a couple times though!
You have such a sympathetic way of making even the most unsavoury character somehow have a legitimate excuse for how they turned out. And we end up feeling empathy. Even the most seemingly evil maybe ended up that way because of what they were exposed to early in life. How much is genetic, how much is environment? What makes evil? Are some people just plain evil?  I think a couple of lessons I got out of your novels, is that everyone has issues, and everyone deserves a second chance at happiness. Can one overcome the legacy of their past or of family connections? People can overcome. Love can overcome. You always end on a positive, hopeful feeling. I also get the sense you're making a strong comment on child abuse and animal abuse and your love for the rich native heritage of Canada. I'm sure you must have seen a lot being in education.
I found it interesting the way you structured each chapter, devoted to a specific character at a specific moment of time in their life....and then ending each chapter right at the point of a pivotal event. Leaving the reader having to wonder when and where we'll get to learn more or find an answer to what just happened.....great writing tool! Just like still no answers, just more hints on what happened in Vancouver....brilliant marketing tool! You've already sold your next novel!
I am a little sorry that Emily wasn't involved more this time because I came to like her so much from the prior 2 novels. And I like what she brought to each situation. Have you started on the next book?  What is the legacy of Legacy? So, looking forward to the next Emily Taylor mystery! 

Lisa Dwyer, Toronto 

 

 Victim, by Catherine Astolfo, is a deftly conceived, multilayered story told with a compassionate voice.
It's a haunting mystery: the disappearance of two villagers, a murder and arson generated by greed and fed by the evil drive to succeed regardless of the consequences.
Greed, pain and murder are timeless storylines, and Astolfo weaves them into a novel highlighted with ancient oral traditions that show us that obsession is as unquenchable today as it was when the land was filled with primeval beliefs and ceremonies.
Victim reaches into the hauntingly beautiful Ojibwa folklore, offering it here in story and poetry. An enduring feature of a good story is the author's capacity to spin not only a tale but a vision -- a surrounding where good and evil play out their parts. The plot leads you to a conclusion with skilfully planted clues, employs a sense of the setting so real that the reader feels a part of the place and uses dialogue that reveals the minds and souls of the characters in it.
Victim will linger in your mind long after you've closed the book. The greed of yesterday is really no different from today, neither are the methods, the intent, the lies, the cruelty and the cowardice. Perhaps only the tools are more deadly.
Filled with chilling realism, Victim is a gifted piece of writing.   

Don Graves, Hamilton Spectator 



I have read The Bridgeman by Catherine Astolfo.  I found it personally engaging and relevant, as I am an elementary school principal.  I could personally relate to Emily, the central character.  From start to finish the book held my interest.  The plot incorporated a wonderful blend of predictability with surprising but plausible twists. The darker elements of the story i.e. the puppy farm, while repulsive, kept me captured similar to the feeling I get when reading Steven King.  You don’t want to look but can’t turn away!  I loved the reality of each character and their family.  The characters spoke to me.  I believe they reflected people I meet on a daily basis.  I guess what I’m saying is that I thought the characters were real!  The Bridgeman is a great read and highly recommended.
Tanya Buchanan, Georgetown, Ontario

I would just like to say how much I enjoyed The Bridgeman.  What an amazing first book!  I couldn’t put it down.  It kept me in suspense until the end.  I felt like I knew the main characters.  Can’t wait for the upcoming books by this new author.  Keep them coming…
Mary Jo Dwyer, Toronto, Ontario

What a wonderful first novel!  As a huge murder mystery fan (Elizabeth George, etc.) I found The Bridgeman a great read.  I loved how real the characters were and how they developed, and looked forward to their further development.  The novel kept me longing to know more about Emily’s mysterious past.  Can’t wait for the next one in the series!
Pinky Griffiths, Brampton, Ontario

I just loved Victim. It is a book with real soul. The measure for me when I really love a book is when I think about it for a couple of days and I don’t want to read another book right away.  I want to stay in the feelings of reading that book.
I really loved the story that Agnes Lake told Emily at the end about how our past is so essential for who we are in the present and who we’ll be in the future and that even though we may regret some things in our past, they’re all a part of what made us who we are.  We could print that up on bulletin boards in well-used areas so we could read it over and over.   I love the way it ends and it makes me really eager to get #3.
A wonderful read, far and beyond the usual type of mystery. Something that really resonated deeply with me.  Superbly well written.
Diane Everett, Toronto, Ontario

I have just finished reading Catherine Astolfo’s novel, "Victim" - An Emily Taylor Mystery.
I very much enjoyed reading "Victim".  Through the landscape of ancient land and legend, "Victim" is the quest of Emily Taylor to unravel the mysteries of disappearances, murder, and corporate bad guys in a community setting filled with fear.   I found it to be a suspenseful novel filled with interesting and well defined characters.  As a mystery fan I revelled in the mounting tension and the twists.  Throughout the story the mystery game is afoot and so, I enjoyed guessing what the characters motives are and who had ulterior motives.  "Victim" is an engrossing mystery that I would recommend as a mystery readers’ pick.
Jo-Ann L. Tremblay, www.potentialsmanagement.com, Ottawa, Ontario

       I read Catherine Astolfo’s book, Victim, in record time (at least for me)...in fact, I slowed down at the end because I didn't want it to end...well done!
 Al DiCenso, Welland, Ontario

Bravo!!!  Congratulations!!  What a book!   I couldn't put Victim down, I didn't want to finish it...just like eating my favourite comfort food…pasta, slowly, because there isn't any more left!  I loved the change in chapters...Emily's life, then Oona's....I am so glad I read the first book...because I would have asked ‘What bridgeman/caretaker...why? where? how?’ Who do I have to talk to, to get you un-self-published?  Thanks again and I want to be included in the top 25 people who will get your next book!!!!
Shirley Cahute, Toronto, Ontario