Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul

Publisher: Anchor Canada
Searing, brilliant, and tension-filled, this is a foreboding tale about truth, lies and justice--quintessential David Adams Richards.
     One fine sunny day in 1985, seventeen-year-old Hector Penniac, a Micmac boy from a local First Nations reserve, begins his first real job to earn money for university: placing logs in the hold of a cargo ship down at the wharf. By noon, Hector is dead. And his neighbour, a young white man named Roger Savage, is accused of killing him.
     Taking this shocking incident as his starting point, and demonstrating his justly celebrated insight into the hearts and minds of diverse characters, including those most often silenced and misunderstood, master storyteller David Adams Richards subtly and precisely unravels a complex tale about crime and punishment, truth and lies, power and justice, that is at once an addictive mystery, a nuanced portrait of a close-knit community in crisis, and an illumination of some of the still-unhealed wounds at the heart of our country.


The day Hector Penniac died in the fourth hold of the cargo ship Lutheran he woke up at 6:20 in the morning. It would be a fine, hot June day. He could hear the bay from his window—it was just starting to make high tide—and far offshore he could see lobster boats moving out to their traps.
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1. What is the significance of the poem that serves as the novel’s epigraph?

2. “How could we ever get revenge without burning the entire roof off the world?” (36) How does David Adams Richards bring history into this novel? How do historical events matter to the different characters?

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“David Adams Richards’ 14th novel brilliantly scours the conscience of a community. . . . [He] moves deftly between the multiple voices and points of view . . . [and] never fails to capture the right details to a scene. . . . That Richards can consistently bring such potentially mawkish figures to vivid life is just one reason to keep reading him.”
Quill & Quire (starred review)
“In a stark, stunning and profound new novel, New Brunswick’s David Adams Richards (Mercy Among the Children, Nights Below Station Street) exposes Canada’s rawest nerve. . . . the construction of this novel is brilliantly conceived, and flawlessly executed. This is Richards at the height of his powers, which is very high indeed. The word masterpiece is not too strong.”
National Post (Donna Bailey Nurse)

“. . . the searing emotion and stirring probity we have come to expect of an author fighting to stave off anachronism’s claim to right and wrong, good and evil. . . . the characters themselves, who could have been frozen into moral archetypes . . . attain a welcome level of complexity. . . . Richards’s larger picture includes a moral lesson at once topical and timeless.”
The Globe and Mail