Tony Thomson: ABOUT FACE       Text

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Ian Wallace, a criminologist teaching at a small Annapolis Valley college, joins Constable Lauren Martin in her investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of an enigmatic and apparently friendless student. An unusual diary provides clues to what may have happened to her. The more they learn about the missing student, people and circumstances turn out to be not what they appeared. Truth proves elusive.

About Face is an often-tense police mystery with humour, romance, and social commentary.



The cover portrays the transformation of a college student from an innocent girl to a woman of experience and knowledge. In a plot twisted with contradictions, she goes missing.

It was created by Tony’s son, Devon Thomson, who graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2015. He currently lives in Toronto working for an IT company and continues to pursue his art.





The book is available through Moose House Publications: Catalogue.


Chapters, Bayers Lake, Halifax, NS

Bookmark, 5686 Spring Garden Rd., Halifax, NS

Indigo Spirit, Sunnyside Mall, Bedford. NS

Coles Book Store, County Fair Mall, New Minas, NS

Hennigar’s Farm Market, Greenwich, NS

Mad Hatter Bookstore, 213 St. George St., Annapolis Royal, NS

Endless Shores Books, 279 Granville St., Bridgetown NS


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Common folklore says everyone has a novel waiting to emerge. For decades, I wanted to write mine. Eventually, I started typing. The result was About Face: A Mystery, and I’m pleased and still somewhat surprised to say that Moose House Publications in Annapolis Royal, NS is publishing it in September.

I am especially grateful to my wife, Heather Frenette, who edited several versions of the book and made important contributions to several scenes. She has an important stake in the novel.

I’ve read mystery novels sporadically throughout my life. As the novel emerged under my keyboard, I altered some of the elements typical of the genre. It’s not just another murder mystery.

Between 1989 and 1994, I was a member of a research group on community policing in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. Besides formal interviews and surveys, my role included observing the day-to-day work of members of an RCMP detachment and officers in small town police departments. As my involvement deepened, I became a participant observer in training sessions, searches, interrogations, car chases, and court appearances, becoming acquainted with the work routine of rural cops and the thoughts they were willing to share with me. The results of the data gathering appeared in several Atlantic Institute of Criminology reports, which were shared with the agencies involved.

Writing About Face provided an opportunity to tell a story that included memories of my experiences with the police as well as of my years teaching in five universities. The protagonist of my first-person mystery novel teaches criminology at a local college (in a fictional county in the Annapolis Valley), who is occasionally invited to work with the local police. Necessarily, the characters, settings, and occurrences are fictional or fictionalized. Rural policing has changed over time, especially in technology, but many issues I discuss in the novel continue to be relevant.





Tony Thomson was born a Protestant in a predominantly Catholic part of the Hydrostone District of Halifax’s North End. Much of his youth was spent at Lawrencetown Beach where his parents had a small cottage. The beach became a central part of his childhood. Despite not learning to swim, he enjoyed diving under and over the cold North Atlantic waves.

His father built a permanent family home a stone’s throw from the beach just in time for Tony to attend junior high in a small, K-Grade Eight rural school. The domineering boys were over-aged and waiting to turn 16 so they could quit school and buy a car.

At Graham Creighton High School in the primarily Black community of Cherry Brook, Tony became acquainted with structural and personal racism, although he understood nothing of his white privilege at the time.

When he graduated, Dalhousie University was busily recruiting more deeply from the high school pool to expand its tuition base. Dal offered him a place. It was the late 1960s and Tony was drawn to the counterculture and left-wing politics.

In his third year at Dal, he met Heather Frenette with whom he has shared decades of marriage. They’ve travelled in the US, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean together.

After a stint of high school teaching in Newfoundland, Tony and Heather returned to Dalhousie, where they graduated at the same convocation, Heather with a B.Sc. and Tony with an M.A. Later that year, Tony became a research student at Kings College, University of Cambridge, while Heather worked in the town library, helping to put her husband through (PHT).

During Tony’s student orientation session at Kings, new members were brought into the College Boardroom, where the silver collection was put on dazzling display on the grand table. All these well-polished chalices, bowls, trays and other riches, we were told, had been donated to the College over the centuries by grateful alumni, which we would soon become.

Tony finished his formal education with a Ph.D. in social and political science and accepted a faculty position at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where he already knew two faculty members. Tony and Heather moved to Canning in the Annapolis Valley to work, renovate a century home, and raise a family. After thirty years in the Valley, they returned to Halifax, where they currently live. Heather and Tony have two children and are now enjoying being grandparents. They are especially grateful their son generously created the striking cover art for the book.