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.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Books

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

Just Posted

Woman arrested in Nanaimo after attempted RV break-in with owner inside

Incident happened April 1 in the 700 block of Drake Street

Community strength urged in combatting COVID-19 in Nanaimo

Health-care workers at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital saluted

COVID-19: Nanoose Bay man forges hearts for his community

Kasprick has already given out approximately 400, plans to make it 600

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Ferries announces major changes to sailing schedules starting Saturday, April 4

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Nanaimo Art Gallery teen art group creating COVID-19-inspired art

Code Switching group lives on online after physical meetings cancelled due to pandemic

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Most Read