Last Stop Sunnyside

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Author: Pat Capponi

Published: 2006

Genre: Mystery

About Last Stop Sunnyside: A resident of a rooming house is murdered and her housemates set out to solve the crime. The first book in the Dana Leoni series.

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Review of Last Stop Sunnyside

Maryanne is a sort of housemother to the other residents of a rooming house in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood so they are alarmed when two men take her away without warning. When the police find her body floating in the lake, that alarm turns to devastation.

I hated telling them, hurting them. There were no tears; the pain ran deeper than that. Michael slid down the wall, sat crouched against it, head on his arms. Diamond just stood there, unable to move, while Gerry lay back on his bed, turned his face away, and was still. We stayed like that for a long time, sharing the silent misery. It was a kind of wake, all we could offer Maryanne now. We had no right to the body. If the police couldn't find any next of kin, she'd be buried by the government, and we might never know where. I wondered if they still had paupers' fields, if she'd even be entitled to a headstone.

It was Michael who finally ended our vigil. He mumbled something I couldn't catch, pushed himself up from the floor and, with Diamond trailing behind him, went up to his room. I waited a moment longer, then tucked Gerry's blanket around his shoulders and bent down to kiss his cheek. His eyes stayed shut. I gently closed his door and followed the boys up the staircase.

...from pages 28-29

They refuse to accept the cops' declaration of suicide and convince Dana Leoni, who also lives in the house, that they need to launch their own investigation.

Meanwhile, someone is sabatoging a local theatre and a friend asks Dana to find the culprit.


You have to love a group of amateur detectives whose only knowledge of sleuthing comes from the things they've heard in Janet Evanovich novels. They have two watches between them, a borrowed car that won't start half the time, no cellphones or raincoats, and some of the people in the group are afraid to leave the house. Their determination to overcome these obstacles for someone they considered a friend was worthy of admiration.

Capponi didn't romanticize the people or the neighbourhood and she wasn't preachy about the problems in these areas either. Instead, she gave faces and histories to these often ignored people and, in some cases, demonstrated how very close any of us are to ending up in the same place.

The plot was, unfortunately, believable. I had a pretty good idea what was going on but that did not take anything away from the story. I liked the book a lot and appreciated Capponi's original band of detectives. I'm looking forward to reading more in the series.

Reviewed by Lynn Bornath on 12 November 2009 from the trade paperback edition.

Find this book at Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, AbeBooks.com


More Reviews

Amy Lavender Harris, Reading Toronto, 23 May 2006
“As a first-time novelist, Capponi's gift lies in her ability to knowledgeably and movingly depict the lives of Toronto's urban underclass.”
Peter Ng's Fantastic Independent Reading Blogs, 26 October 2008
“The author does a great job of providing just enough clues to let the reader know what is unfolding.”
Frieda's Feminist Book Blog, 14 December 2008
“As in Capponi's non-fiction, the writing is clear, to the point, vivid, and unsentimental, even about emotional matters.”
M. Kryshtalskyj's Independent Reading Blog, 1 February 2009
“There is no guessing game for the reader, and it gets very tedious as the author includes a lot of unnecessary information.”
Willow House Chronicles, 16 March 2009
“I enjoyed Dana and her unusual team of detectives.”

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Added 19 May 2009.
Updated 04 September 2013.