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Authors: Anthony Bidulka

Date with a Sheesha

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Date with a


A Russell Quant Mystery

Anthony Bidulka

winner of the Lambda Literary Award

This ebook licensed to Christina McManus. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this ebook is illegal.

Recent praise for the books of Anthony Bidulka:

“Bidulka mixes fun and seriousness in his fiction, and this sixth episode in Quant’s life and times is no exception.”

– The Globe & Mail (Toronto)

“Bidulka serves it all up with warmth, wit, and savvy, making for a delicious read that will leave you hungry for more…”

– OutFront Colorado (Denver)

“Some writers get all, or most of, the technical components in order…but miss the feeling behind good story telling…Bidulka has that gift and uses it with more finesse with each succeeding novel.”

– The Hamilton Spectator (Hamilton)

“…beautifully written and deeply wise.”

– Lambda Book Report (Los Angeles)

“It’s an endearing series, and Russell Quant is just the kind of guy you’d want for a big brother.”

– NOW Magazine (Toronto)

“Bidulka’s books, once started, are hard to put down.”

– The Star Phoenix (Saskatoon)

“His characters [have] the happy side effect of making Saskatoon an intriguingly lively spot on the map.”

– The London Free Press (London)

“…what lifts Bidulka’s books a level above other well-crafted mysteries is the human element he has created in the character of Russell Quant.”

– Wayves (Halifax)

“Bidulka pulls out all the stops to give the reader an exciting ride.”

– Lavender Magazine (Minneapolis)

“Bidulka seasons his novels with rich ingredients...”

– Xtra (Toronto)

“…you will be swept away...”
– Out in Print



Date with a



Also by the author

Amuse Bouche

Flight of Aquavit

Tapas on the Ramblas

Stain of the Berry

Sundowner Ubuntu

Aloha, Candy Hearts


Date with a


A Russell Quant Myster y

Anthony Bidulka



Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Bidulka

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher or, in case of photocopy-ing or other reprographic copying, a license from Access Copyright, 1

Yonge Street, Suite 1900, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5E 1E5.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Bidulka, Anthony, 1962-Date with a sheesha / Anthony Bidulka.

(A Russell Quant mystery)

ISBN 978-1-55483-001-5

I. Title. II. Series: Bidulka, Anthony, 1962- . Russell Quant mystery.

PS8553.I319D38 2010 C813'.6 C2010-900601-1

The publisher gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program.

Printed and bound in Canada

Insomniac Press

520 Princess Avenue,

London, Ontario, Canada, N6B 2B8


The dictionary definition of
includes the following descriptions:

1. keep something or somebody stable; 2. bear weight; 3. sustain somebody; 4. give active help and encouragement; 5. be in favour of something; 6. be present and give encouragement; 7. give assistance or comfort; 8. corroborate story.

I would like to add one more:

9. be Herb


This book, like all in the Russell Quant series, is inspired in part by my own travels. Specifically, in this case, a wondrous elopement, sailing around the Arabian Peninsula. I would like to recognize the many fine people I have met over the years, during the course of scores of voyages. Aboard ships and planes, on the backs of camels and elephants, enjoying beaches and sidewalk cafés, investigating the nooks and crannies and wonders of the world. Be you old friend, new acquaintance, met on a cruise ship or safari Jeep, be you travel guide, service provider, maître d’ or airline steward, or a charming dinner companion, I thank you. For good humour, skilled service, expert cooking, intelligent observa-tions, generous hospitality, and camaraderie: it makes a difference.

My editors often warn me against sentences that become lists.

But the group of people to whom I am grateful for their kindness-es and influences on me, my books, and my career, are exactly that: one big long list, the end of which I never seem to reach.

How lucky is that? I’d like to say thank you to: Doug Fahlgren of the John G. Diefenbaker International Airport for his helpful responses to my indelicate questions about the transportation of caskets; Pat N for teaching me a thing or two about texting lingo; Pat S for her attempts at battering Stonewall; everyone involved with the Bruno Cherry Festival; the Bloody Words gang in Ottawa for including me in the Mystery Café Reading Series; Ian Goodwillie for having me as a guest on the second episode of
Saskatoon Book Report
; all the interviewers and book reviewers who gave their valuable time in paying attention to these books; to Shelley and the EY gang for another awesome pre-party—you rocked those leis! For unfailingly continuing to show up at launches and signings with unbridled enthusiasm, sending me cards, flowers, gifts, and for filling my inbox with wonderful, inspiring messages every single day, I pronounce the Russell Quant readers to be the best in the world! From Toronto to Ann Arbor, Indianapolis to San Francisco, big hugs to my colleagues with whom I was lucky enough to share a reading stage this year

—including Nairne Holtz, Neil Plakcy, Greg Herren, Mark Richard Zubro, Ellen Hart, Lee Patton, and Anne Laughlin.


Special thanks to Alison K and Laura L for visiting Russell’s Prairie province for the first time—I hope you enjoyed the pool party! Thanks to Vicki D, Barbara F, Robin H, and Mary Jane M—

my “O Canada” compatriots. Thank you Joan Hansen for inviting me to Orange County to be part of the tenth annual Men of Mystery extravaganza—it was an honour. And to my fellow board members of Crime Writers of Canada and Camp fYrefly Saskatchewan, it was a pleasure working with you this year. To my agent, Robert Lecker, here’s to a successful collaboration.

Continued thanks to Catherine Lake, without whom this series would not be a reality. And to my family, friends, and BNE—you are truly the best.

This past year saw the continuation of a sad trend. Many of my favourite bookstores, both in Canada and the United States, closed their doors for the final time. Some of these were places where, even back in the early days of the first Russell Quant books, I was graciously welcomed. Where those doors are now locked, thank you to the owners and staff for your dedication to this industry and your love of books. You will be missed. Where doors remain open, thank you for being there.

Thank you to Insomniac Press for bringing this book to life.

Gillian, you regularly amaze (and confound) me with the plethora of unusual bits of fact and fancy bopping around in your head.

Who else would know about mehndi, Benedict Arnold, the history of religion, and a few choice English witticisms? Thanks for your unflagging dedication to this project.

And Herb.



Chapter 1

You are invited to the death of Nayan Gupta.

Those were the chilling words inscribed on the cold, white, cardstock invitation.

It was the last Monday in January. Blue Monday.

According to some government-subsidized scientist somewhere, the final Monday of the first month of the year is the most depressing day of the year. I think it has something to do with Christmas bills coming in, broken New Year’s resolutions, and lousy weather. I could almost buy into all that. It made a certain sense. But an invitation to a death? That was going a bit far. My Blue Monday had suddenly turned into Menacing Monday.

I studied the invitation carefully. Below the cryptic request was the Date: Today; Time: 11:00 a.m.; Location: Saskatoon airport. I turned the card over. There was nothing more, just blank whiteness, not unlike the part of my brain that was scrambling to answer the question: What the hell?

I checked my watch. It was nearing ten-thirty.



D a t e w i t h a S h e e s h a

The envelope had been part of the normal weekday delivery of mail into my in-basket. Our ever cheery receptionist, Lilly, had brought it in only moments ago. No return address. Of course not.

That would be too simple.

So, I turned to technology. My fingers tapped at my desktop’s keyboard. Google found 250,000 hits matching “Nayan Gupta,”

and not many fewer matching “Nayan Gupta Saskatoon.” I opened Facebook and typed the name into the “search” box.

Thirty-one possibles. I liked those odds much better. I sipped my tall, double, non-fat latte and scanned the resulting list. In the top third, I came to a Nayan who listed “Saskatoon” as one of his networks. The picture on the left-hand side showed a handsome fellow, with dark eyes, curly black hair worn on the longish side, and a friendly smile. The photo had obviously been cropped. It looked like Nayan had his arm around someone who’d been unceremoniously chopped from view.

BOOK: Date with a Sheesha
5.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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