I didn’t think I was up for another fictional social justice book with a white male hero who needs to descend into his shattered self to find the heroics necessary to save the so-called day. So when Tailings of Warren Peace showed up at my door, I was sceptical to say the least. I mean, giving the protagonist the name Warren Peace?
That’s an invitation not to be taken seriously.
But make no mistake, author Stephen Law has taken a genre where few have recently shone and crafted a story that will have you shirking whatever you said you’d be doing. You’ll miss appointments for this book. The house will go dirty(er). The dogs will howl for dinner. It’s that good.
Main character Warren Peace has the necessary checkered past, and of course he’s necessarily running from it, hoping just to fade into the wallflower category of life. He’s a Cape Bretoner in Toronto, looking to stay lost.
But he’s also a mildly clairvoyant tombstone repo-man who from time to time gets vibes and visuals from the tombstones he’s paid to truck away, and someone’s out there, looking for him to dust off his gloves and get back in the ring of life in a big way.
The intrigue comes fast and furious, as that someone - whether for good or bad - is furtively leaving a tragic story stapled to the telephone poles outside of Peace’s apartment.
With these clues and the help of his downstairs neighbour, and a cast of incredibly strong female characters, Peace pieces together an epic tale of mining injustice, and corporate murders unavenged, that spans continents. The names have been fictionalized, but it’s a story that is sadly plausible to anyone familiar with Canadian mining techniques in Latin America, and around the world.
I loved this book, because Law peppers it with realistic characters who are neither uni-dimensional, nor borne into a blind and unquestioning crusade of activism and social justice that the reader can’t be expected to understand or match.
These are people with personal doubts and dilemmas, who get WAY the hell in over their heads. You’ll feel their vulnerability, but against the odds you’ll also come to share their infectious passion for justice. It’s an action packed book, and if I had a million dollars and/or knew how to operate a movie camera, I’d put money down on this being the next summer blockbuster.
Hell, after reading Tailings of Warren Peace, I’d trust Law to mastermind a radical action against any of the myriad shady companies that foul the Canadian corporate landscape. This book inspires the reader to walk taller and throw their own monkey wrench into the heart of this broken system.