Nanaimo author John Dacombe recently released the second book in a planned trilogy, Unidentified Male: A Constable Amber Virtanen Mystery. (Photo courtesy Wanda Thompson)

A traumatized RCMP officer tracks a serial killer in Nanaimo in new book

Local author John Dacombe releases ‘Unidentified Male: A Constable Amber Virtanen Mystery’

Local author John Dacombe has released his second book in a planned trilogy about a young RCMP officer fighting crime in a gritty, fictionalized version of Nanaimo.

In Unidentified Male: A Constable Amber Virtanen Mystery, the eponymous cop is tasked with tracking down a serial killer targeting society’s most vulnerable while coming to terms with her own trauma.

“She’s trying to resolve the personal crises that arose out of the first book psychologically, emotionally, at the same time as dealing with a serial killer in current-day fictional Nanaimo,” Dacombe said. “So she’s got her internal demons, her personal demons, and she’s dealing with what is essentially a real-world demon.”

Dacombe has a military background and said he witnessed many of his colleagues experiencing mental health consequences related to their work. He said it’s a common issue for all uniformed and emergency services personnel and one he wanted to explore in his writing.

“I had experience working with individuals like that so I realized that’s a significant part of somebody’s makeup,” he said. “When you are dealing with stress, it’s not a separate part of your identity. It’s part of everything.”

Dacombe said he’s “not a big fan of escapist fiction” and prefers to write about issues that are relevant to Nanaimo, including crime and mental health. Dacombe is an avid follower of municipal politics and his first Virtanen mystery, Aurora Borealis, actually started as a political thriller inspired by Nanaimo’s previous city council before going “a bit off script” and turning into a murder mystery.

“As the book developed, I realized that while the political side of it was interesting … I found [Virtanen] more interesting than the politics,” he said. “And so when I came up with a second book, the new council is many things but it’s not dramatic, so I decided to just get rid of the political side and just focus on the policing and the crime side.”

Dacombe said his next book is already mapped out and while it will touch on different issues than the first two, it will once again be topical to Nanaimo. He said telling these stories is something he’s always wanted to do.

“My bucket list was always to write a novel,” he said. “So if I write three I’ve done pretty well for myself.”

Unidentified Male: A Constable Amber Virtanen Mystery is available online here.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

South Wellington Elementary demolition not taking place next school year

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public School trustees vote against razing south-end school in 2020/21

No injuries after SUV hits tree in north Nanaimo

Nanaimo RCMP and Fire Rescue respond to MVI on Hammond Bay Road, near Brigantine Drive

Nanaimo non-profits ask for volunteer receptionists

Nanaimo Disability Resource Centre and Volunteer Nanaimo have opportunities available

City of Nanaimo takes inventory of its land for official community plan review

Report recommends high-density residential development, identifies shortage of industrial land

Beefs & Bouquets, July 8

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

B.C. tent camps persist as hotels, housing bought for homeless

Current estimate 40 camps, homeless counts stalled by COVID-19

Most Read