The Way the Crow Flies

Publisher: Vintage Canada

In The Way the Crow Flies, Ann-Marie MacDonald takes us back to the early 1960’s, a time of optimism infused with the excitement of the space race and overshadowed by the menace of the Cold War–-a world filtered through the imagination of Madeleine McCarthy, a spirited nine-year-old. Unaware that her father, Jack, is caught up in his own web of secrets, she at first welcomes her family’s posting to a sleepy air force base in southern Ontario.

The base, however, is home to some intriguing inhabitants, including the unconventional Froehlich family, and the odd Mr. March, whose power over the children is a secret burden that they carry. Then tragedy strikes, and a local murder intersects with global forces, binding the participants for life. As tension in the McCarthy’s household builds, Jack must decide where his loyalty lies, and Madeleine learns about the ambiguity of human morality--a lesson that will become clear only when the quest for the truth, and the killer, is renewed twenty years later.


The birds saw the murder. Down below in the new grass, the tiny white bell-heads of the lily of the valley. It was a sunny day. Twig-crackling, early spring stirrings, spring soil smell. April. A stream through the nearby woods, so refreshing to the ear – it would be dry by the end of summer, but for now it rippled...
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1. We learn in the beginning that the girl who is murdered wears a charm bracelet. Why does the author introduce another charm bracelet, given by Mimi to Madeleine?

2. What does it tell us about Jack that he still thinks of his old teacher Simon as his best friend although he’s hardly seen him in twenty...

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#1 National Bestseller
Winner of the CBA Libris Awards, Fiction Book of the Year

Finalist for the Giller Prize

Finalist for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Canada and Caribbean Region)
Finalist for the CBA Libris Awards, Author of the Year
Finalist for the CBC Canada Reads Top Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade

“Beautifully written and equally beautiful in its compassion, its wisdom, even in its anger and pain. Don’t miss it.” The Washington Post

“Murder mystery, spy thriller, historical novel, morality play--The Way the Crow Flies is all of these.... Engrossing...remarkable.” The Chicago Tribune

“Stunning proof of MacDonald’s abilities…. A fantastic novel, not only because it is humorous, and sad and suspenseful and entertaining. It is a fantastic novel because it reminds us, as Canadians, of our citizenship in the world.”The Gazette

“A gripping, insightful cinematic tale…. I could not put it down…. The Way the Crow Flies tells a gripping tale, and has the power to illuminate the way we think about the modern world.” Charlotte Gray, National Post

“Ann-Marie MacDonald’s big novel generates a strong emotional pull...suspense and the evocation of feeling on the author’s part continue to drive the reader’s interest forward to the very last page…. MacDonald touches some deeply moving and insightful themes--the deliberate assertion of nothingness which is behind human evil, the effort of guilty children to shield their innocent parents from knowledge.” The Toronto Star

“A gripping, twisty plot with powerful undercurrents of anger, abuse and even murder…. MacDonald is a stunningly good writer…. The Way The Crow Flies…secures for MacDonald a place, forever, in Canadian literature.” The Calgary Herald

“A mesmerizing recreation of a vanished era and a lost childhood.... MacDonald’ s depiction of a vulnerable girl almost destroyed by the confluence of global politics and local murder is rendered with beauty and passion.” Maclean’s

“This dark thriller, set mostly in the early ‘60s, is part coming-of-age story, part Cold War thriller and part murder mystery, all wrapped around a fascinating history lesson. Like her first novel, it centres on a painful secret that will pull most readers compulsively back to this book until the last page.” Flare

“MacDonald is an expert storyteller, providing an intricate recreation of life on a military base in the 1960s…a chronicle of innocence betrayed.” PW Daily (starred review)

“A hopeful and satisfying finale…. This novel has close to perfect pitch.” The Edmonton Journal

“This extraordinary follow-up to Fall on Your Knees, is both a head-spinning murder mystery and an absorbing exploration of morality, innocencelost and the lengths to which parents and children will go to protect each other. Astonishing in its depth and breadth, it artfully weaves one family’s struggles into the fabric of the Cold War.” People magazine (Critic’s Choice)

“MacDonald’s central and wonderful creation, Madeleine McCarthy…is at once sophisticated and uncomprehending, in ways that ring terribly true. Hers is the consciousness that renders this novel compelling well beyond the level of its highly competent whodunit plot.” Claire Messud, The Globe and Mail