Bowen, Gail (1942-)

Gail Bowen.
Ted Bowen

One of Canada’s most popular crime writers, Gail Bowen is the author behind the Joanne Kilbourn mystery series. Born Gail Bartholomew in Toronto, she was educated at the University of Toronto, where she received a BA in 1964, and at the University of Waterloo, where she graduated with an MA in 1975. Bowen undertook post-graduate studies at the University of Saskatchewan from 1975 to 1979. She married Ted Bowen in 1968 and lives with her family in Regina. Bowen’s first book, 1919: The Love Letters of George and Adelaide (1987), was a novella written in collaboration with Ronald Marken, a University of Saskatchewan professor. The first title in the Kilbourn series, Deadly Appearances (1990), was nominated for the W.H. Smith/Books in Canada award for best first novel. It was followed by Murder at the Mendel (1991), The Wandering Soul Murders (1992), A Colder Kind of Death (1994), which won the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel, A Killing Spring (1996), Verdict in Blood (1998), Burying Ariel (2000), The Glass Coffin (2002), and The Last Good Days (2004). The tenth novel in the series, The Endless Knot, was published in 2006. 

Set in Saskatchewan, the Kilbourn mysteries focus on a University of Regina professor who finds herself reluctantly aiding the police in solving various local murders. The series has been popular locally, nationally, and internationally with the novels being translated into various languages. The first six novels in the series have also been adapted for television and star actress Wendy Crewson as Joanne Kilbourn. Bowen has also written several plays which have been produced at theatres throughout Canada. An associate professor and head of the English department at the First Nations University of Canada, Bowen began her teaching career at the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College in Saskatoon before moving to Regina in 1979. There, she taught at the University of Regina and the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, the forerunner to the First Nations University. Besides teaching and writing, Bowen has contributed to CBC radio both locally and nationally as an arts columnist and political commentator. In the role of guest lecturer, she has delivered speeches and readings in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, and extensively throughout Saskatchewan. She holds memberships in the Saskatchewan Writers Guild and the Writers’ Union of Canada.

Mark Vajcner