The Concrete Vineyard

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
468 Pages
Reviewed on 02/16/2021
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Author Biography

Cam is a professional planner, urban designer and development manager. He has practiced in both urban and rural settings across Canada on projects ranging from master planned communities and big city high-rises to rural strategic and official plans.
He grew up working in the fruit orchards and vineyards of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario – a setting which confirmed how utterly useless a farmer he was but which also piqued his interest in urban planning, architecture, culturally significant landscapes, built heritage, sustainability, and design.
He now takes his readers behind closed door meetings - where malfeasance often runs rampant - and writes about corruption in planning, land development and municipal politics.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Trudi LoPreto for Readers' Favorite

The Concrete Vineyard is a story with many qualities. It is an intriguing murder mystery with many twists and turns. It is a tale of bad government and the how-tos of urban planning. There are many characters and many suspects, along with a questionable storyteller. We join the story on the 150th birthday of the nation in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the First Capital of Upper Canada. Since Upper Canada (now the province of OntarioAs the town gathers, Edward Mitchell, the richest man in town, is murdered. Detective Bryan Dee is assigned to the case but has no clues to go on. Kris Gage is in town, helping his parents pack up the home they have just sold. Kris and Bryan are schoolboy friends and have kept in touch over the years. Kris is a well-respected urban planner and may be of valuable assistance in understanding that the land and home of Edward Mitchell were the reason for his death. Several others soon disappear and may be connected to Mitchell's murder. We get introduced to the prominent townsfolk who may or may not be involved in the case. Kris is the narrator throughout the book. Bryan has found a clue that makes him believe his friend must also be considered as a suspect. The ending is one that is impossible to ever imagine.

The Concrete Vineyard is a long and detailed book but has a fascinating plot. The in-depth descriptions of behind the scene government and planning that takes place, the mystery with so many suspects, and the deflection players will positively keep you reading. I enjoyed the knowledge that Kris shared as to how a community is planned and all the facts that go into making it a success. Bryan at times seemed at a loss as to how to solve the case, but he was so likable it was impossible not to root for him to find the answers he needed. There were many who seemed to be the logical choice for these crimes and others that seemed a very remote possibility and it had me guessing and accusing so many before the murderer was revealed. This is Cam Lang’s first novel but I believe he has a great path ahead of him and will have many more successful books in the future. The Concrete Vineyard is informative and is one that will keep you guessing. It is certainly worth reading.

Alistair Singer

What a captivating plot! This has to be one of the most creative mysteries I have read in some time. It's so much more than a mystery though. It's incredibly informative. The murder is just the beginning and really just a backdrop to the more important points this author is trying to make about good planning, civic responsibility, active transportation and the value of heritage preservation in the face of greed and progress.
Almost every character that comes into play in the political and land development game is involved in trying to get their hands on the historical and valuable Mitchell Estate. From realtors, to developers, politicians, other historians and even "ladies of the night", they all seem to be suspects at various points in the story.
I'm impressed this was a debut novel. It's an incredible read that I will be suggesting to my book club and others.