Children in the Morning
A Collins-Burke Mystery
Author: Anne Emery
Table of Contents
When Beau Delaney, the Halifax hotshot whose exploits are the subject of a new Hollywood film, is
charged with the murder of his wife Peggy, it’s lawyer and bluesman Monty Collins who takes the case.
But when Beau’s family dynamics and the appearance of a mysterious child alert Monty that his client is
keeping secrets, others join in to help keep Beau from a life in prison. Monty’s pal, Father Brennan
Burke, has a hand in the investigation, as does Monty’s estranged wife, Maura. Watching all this is
Normie, Monty and Maura’s daughter, who has the gift of second sight. When she starts having visions
that involve Beau, she can’t tell whether they reflect something he’s done in the past—or something he
might do in the future. It then becomes clear that Normie and Monty must rely on each other to discover
the truth about Peggy’s death.
You should know right from the beginning that I am not bragging. I
was brought up better than that, even though I am the child of a
broken home. That’s another thing you should know. but — and it’s
a big but — (I’m allowed to say “big but” like this but not “big butt”
in a mean voice when it might be heard by a person with a big butt,
and hurt their feelings) — but, about my broken home, Mummy
says people don’t say that anymore. Anyway, even if they do, it doesn’t
bother me. It kinda bothers my brother Tommy Douglas even
though he’s a boy, and a lot of times boys pretend they’re tough.
Tommy never says, but I know. We have another brother, Dominic,
but he’s a little baby so he’s too young to know anything. However,
the whole thing is not that bad. That’s probably because we don’t
have the kind of dad who took off and didn’t care and didn’t pay us
any alimony. When you’ve been around school as long as I have —
I’m in grade four — you know kids who have fathers like that. But
not my dad. We spend a lot of days with him, not just with my mum.
And they both love us. They are in their forties but are both still spry
and sharp as a tack. It’s stupid the way they don’t just move back into
the same house together but, aside from that, they are great people
and I love them very much.
Mum is Maura MacNeil. People say she has a tongue on her that
could skin a cat. She is always very good to me and never skins me.
But if I do something bad, she doesn’t have to stop and think about
what to say; she has words ready to go. She teaches at the law school
here in Halifax. My dad is Monty Collins. He is really sweet and he
has a blues band. I always ask him to sing and play the song “Stray
Cat Strut” and he always does. It’s my favourite song; I get to do the
“meow.” He is also a lawyer and he makes faces about his clients.
They’re bad but he has to pretend they’re good when he’s in front of
the judge so the judge won’t send them down the river and throw
away the key. Or the paddle, or whatever it is. It means jail.
I forgot to tell you my name. It’s Normie. What? I can hear you
saying. It’s really Norma but you won’t see that word again in these
pages. Well, except once more, right here, because I have to explain
that it comes from an opera called Norma. Mum and Dad are opera
fans and they named me after this one, then realized far too late that
it was an old lady’s name (even though the N-person in the opera was
not old, but never mind). So they started calling me Normie instead.
I am really good in math and English, and I know so many words
that my teacher has got me working with the grade seven book called
Words Are Important, which was published way back in 1955 when
everybody learned harder words in school than they do these days.
And I have musical talent but do not apply myself, according to my
music teacher. I am really bad at social studies but that’s because I
don’t care about the tundra up north, or the Family Compact, whoever
they are. But it was interesting to hear that we burned down the
White House when we had a war with the Americans back in 1812.
Tommy says we kicked their butts (he said it, not me). You never
think of Canadians acting like that.
Anne Emery is a graduate of Dalhousie Law School who has worked as a lawyer, a legal affairs reporter,
and a researcher. She is the author of Barrington Street Blues, Cecilian Vespers, Obit, and Sign of the
Cross, winner of the 2006 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
"Fans of traditional whodunits will be well satisfied."
"By having Normie tell the story, Arthur Ellis Award-winning Emery allows readers to walk beside the girl
as she deals with her second sight, the abuse of other children, and the anguish she feels when the
peace of her home life is threatened. Not since Robert K. Tannenbaum's Lucy Karp, a young woman who
talks with saints, have we seen a more poignant rendering of a female child with unusual powers."
"Emery paints a poignant portrait of a girl burdened by information she was never supposed to have, and
of a tormented man who, at the most critical juncture, realizes that mounting a proper defence requires
fumbling around in some very dark corners."