An Enchanting Book Launch

By Steve Oetting

The energy in the room was palpable. In spite of the bitter March wind that whistled through the streets of the Exchange District, the room reserved at ArtSpace on March 17 was well-populated by members of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild with a shared fondness for the book’s author. It was the book launch of Andy Dutfield’s Death at the Point.

Every book launch is something special, as was this one. Not only was Andy the President of our Guild for five years, this was the first launch of his first book, and his happiness and gratitude was reflected in his beaming smile. In attendance were his wife Jackie and other members of his family, including two charming grandsons, several members of the Guild board, and numerous intrigued Guild members.

Death at the Point is a murder mystery novel centered around Hecla Island and Gimli. It opens with a historical account of a criminal and murderer who committed his atrocities across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, his notorious rampage ending with his hanging at the provincial jail in Winnipeg. Rumours abounded regarding the possibility that he had buried money and other proceeds of his crimes in the Interlake, possibly somewhere on Hecla Island. The novel winds through numerous plot twists and surprises that will keep its readers spellbound to the very end.

The book launch began with a review of Andy’s seven-and-a-half-year journey writing and publishing Death at the Point. He expressed his gratitude to his first editor, Jaime Cox, to Friesen Press Publishing for all of their assistance, and to Jackie and his entire family for the support they offered and sacrifices they made to enable him to fulfill his dream of writing this novel. The inspiration for the story began with his infatuation with Hecla Island and his and his wife’s love of murder mysteries. Finally, after a comment by Jackie, “I wonder if anybody was murdered on this island,” the die was cast. Andy admitted that he did not know how the story would unfold when he first started writing it, but that it developed as he went along, saying, “Discovering the story was fantastic.” He noted that the writing itself was the most enjoyable part of the time he spent but that the reviewing and editing work required was challenging and time-consuming. He also let everyone know that he is not finished writing and is already working on a second novel.

Readings from his book were provided by both Andy and Jackie, including part of the Prologue and Chapter One, enough to stimulate intrigue but not enough to give away the intricate elements of the mystery. Subsequent to the readings was a question-and-answer period with members inquiring into Andy’s processes and the sources of various ideas he used to draft the story. The event wrapped up with folks excited to procure a signed copy of Andy’s book and enjoy some tasty treats and drinks. The room buzzed with a kind of warmth and camaraderie that felt more like a family gathering than a formal event, with many folks eager to get home and start reading Death at the Point.

Copies of Death at the Point may be acquired by emailing .

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