Three comic crime novels featuring Amicus the courthouse cat
and his companion human, Justice Ted Mariner
Murder at Osgoode Hall
Lawyer Jeremiah “The Splinter” Debeers is an anti-Establishment champion of the little guy … and a pain in the backside for his fellow “benchers,” the patrician governors at the Law Society. So his sudden death in the Society’s library raises pointed questions, such as what the confidential records from the wine cellar are doing near his corpse. Will the resident cat, Amicus, be sent to Her Majesty’s “Doghouse” (the humane society shelter) for avicide on the courthouse lawn? And will Amicus’s companion human, judge Ted Mariner, ever complete his seminar paper on the constitutional rights of tree-huggers?
Murder’s Out of Tune
Ageing Des Cheshire is a cat who swings. For 25 years, he’s featured on sax with the Billy Wonder Quartet, … and played second fiddle to Wonder, the band’s leader and pianist. Cheshire’s contract forces him to sign over 75 percent of his publishing royalties to Wonder. So when Wonder turns up dead, “the Cheshire cat” is a principal suspect. Paired up again with appeal judge Ted Mariner, Amicus meets Des Cheshire at the Chicken Alley jazz club in trendy Yorkville. From there, it’s two more or less cool cats on nocturnal (mis)adventures.
A “best mystery of the year” – J. D. Singh (Sleuth of Baker Street Books), “Morningside” Mystery Book Panel, CBC Radio One.
Miller “builds his entertaining story around a matter which involves both law and music. … Readers “will enjoy tracking down the musical references” such as “Paul Desmond’s unforgettable Toronto sessions at Bourbon Street in 1975.” – Pamela Margles, The Wholenote.
Murder on the Rebound
It’s classic, uproarious Amicus, with his caustic shin’s-eye view of “Homo allegedly sapiens” and their justice system. As usual, the Falstaffian feline narrates a seriously funny (and profoundly serious) tale in which the search for whodunit intersects with the deeper mystery of the nature of “truth” itself.
The writing is witty, and in between the one-liners, the storytelling is often thought provoking. Poking fun and doing it well is a serious business and requires a sure and confident style, which Miller has.
And don’t forget the twist – the element in a mystery that can often make or break the story. It is so unexpected here as to cause this reviewer to wonder how the hell Miller was going to explain this one away … believably. He does!
Murder on the Rebound is a humorous and literate puzzle on the definition of truth, begging for a fourth. – Don Graves, The Hamilton Spectator
This is an evenly paced tale that builds a slow tension to keep you reading. A story you’ll be glad you read and you’ll be looking for other books by this creative author. Enjoy. I did. – Anne K. Edwards, newmysteryreader.com
rainboreviews.com: As with the previous two mysteries in this series, the grim reality of the murder is offset by the lighthearted internal musings of the remarkable cat Amicus that accompanies Ted Mariner through the investigation. It’s an easily digestible little mystery that will keep you guessing to the end. Read more
Kirkus Reviews: An uncommon mystery full of literate and sardonically humorous questions. Read more
Law and humanities/literary criticism/cultural studies
Structures of Law and Literature
Duty, Justice, and Evil in the Cultural Imagination
Finally, a work that proves law and literature have something coherent and substantial to say to one another, detailing how they arise from the same imaginative impulses, and ordering principles, at the heart of our societies. See the Justice page.
Three books for the general reader, and the professional,
on the tragicomic intersection of law and life
Where There’s Life There’s Lawsuits:
Not Altogether Serious Ruminations On Law and Life
Finalist, Arthur Ellis Award, Best Non-Fiction; optioned for film/television production
If the police sniff at your door without a warrant, is it an illegal search? Can you kill your spouse if you find her in bed with another man? Who owns that bronze cast of Jimi Hendrix’s “private person” – the artist or the “sculpture’s” custodian? If someone misplaces your cremated remains, can your family get compensation for lost property ? Is it a crime to try to pick an empty pocket? Is Yiddish displacing Latin as the second language of our law? And exactly why is it that Robin Hood’s merry men “couldn’t have been very merry”?
The law concerns the most dramatic, poignant, and ridiculous moments of our lives. Judgments in lawsuits often make vivid tragicomic literature, throwing the very essence of human nature into high relief. Where There’s Life, There’s Lawsuits collects two decades of my work at that seriously funny and bemusingly serious intersection between law and everyday experience.
“I really liked the book. It got passed around very quickly. Not sure who’s got it now but you have become a cult figure in this little stretch of the [Scottish] lowlands.” – John Renbourn (musician, composer, genius, avid reader of the seriously amusing)
Blends humor with insightful observation – Midwest Book Review
Ardor in the Court: Sex and the Law
1656: A Boston court sentences a ship’s captain to sit in the stocks for two hours for “lewd and unseemly behavior” on the sabbath. Arriving home that Sunday after three years at sea, he had kissed his wife. 1889: The chief justice of England debates with fellow judges whether a man can have sexual connection with a duck. 1968: J. Edgar Hoover tries to ban the recording “Two Virgins” because the cover depicts John Lennon and Yoko Ono stark naked from both directions. 1991: Police in Florida arrest Pee Wee Herman, star of children’s television, for pleasuring himself during a public screening of the film Nancy Nurse. 2000: A stripper sues her plastic surgeon because her bottom looks like her top after he stitches breast implants into her buttocks.
Ardor in the Court is an anecdotal history of sex and the law. As with much of my work, the emphasis is on the curious, bemusing, and culturally evocative – which is to say, events that reach the heart of the human tragicomedy, casting it in high relief. Drawing mainly from official law reports – which most people never otherwise get to see – Ardor never loses sight of actress Shelley Winters’ observation: “I think on-stage nudity is disgusting, shameful, and damaging to all things American. But if I were twenty-two with a great body, it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic, and a progressive religious experience.”
Naked Promises: A Chronicle of Everyday Wheeling and Dealing
Naked Promises is out of print, although a few copies are available second-hand. (And there’s always the public library, never mind that even these treasure troves have caught the “efficiencies” bug, “privileging” digital over print. A real book is its own adventure.* … [Digressive rant muted.] ). It is a bemused history of everyday contracts – the transactions all of us make every day from buying breakfast to renting a room to going to the dentist. As the publisher’s blurb puts it, the book explores
transactions big and small, from the covenants Moses and Abraham made with Jehovah to a land deed that was signed, sealed and delivered by an amputated hand, to attempts by prostitutes to welsh on debts by pleading their own immoral acts. … Focusing … on the ordinary citizen as the hero of the law, Naked Promises explores … disputes involving such familiar figures as Mark Twain, Bette Davis, J.D. Salinger, and Lee Iacocca. … [The book] borrows from literature, fairy tales, movies, art, and science to demonstrate how our law is a vivid reflection of our larger culture.
The Law of Contempt in Canada
“The tone, the precise language, and the direct formulations make reading this text not only worthwhile, but enjoyable – a rare experience in this field.” The Honourable Justice André Rochon Quebec Court of Appeal
“The book is engaging and thorough. It is also one of the few resources with a Canadian perspective published on this topic, and it is the most authoritative on the subject. … Miller’s book was a pleasure to read and review … a must have for any library serving lawyers practising in the area.” Laura Lemmens, Acting Head, Library and Open Information, Alberta Government Library, in 2017 Canadian Law Library Review/Revue canadienne des bibliothèques de droit, Volume/Tome 42, No. 3. Read the entire review here.
Second edition now available: see the Law page, where you will also find a free cumulative supplement, regularly updated.
The Law of Judicial Notice
“…[T]he book is important because it fills a longstanding gap in the existing literature. … This is the first standalone Canadian title on the subject, … . As the Honourable Ian Binnie writes in his foreword to the book, [t]he book is both learned and readable and deserves a welcome in any law library.” I concur.” Melanie R. Bueckert, Legal Research Counsel, Manitoba Court of Appeal, in 2018 Canadian Law Library Review/Revue canadienne des bibliothèques de droit,Volume/Tome 43, No. 2. Read the full review here.
…heretofore treated in a scattershot and overly-jargonized manner. (In many ways, it’s become a creation – a Frankenstein’s monster – of the legal academy.) The book includes a comprehensive, up-to-the-moment analysis of the relevant criteria, a database of leading and influential cases (“Notice of What?”), pointed suggestions for reform (particularly of the terminology), a foreword by the Honourable Ian Binnie (who penned THE leading case when he sat on the Supreme Court of Canada), plus added features such as the poem,The Ballade of Judicial Notice (1893), and, among the very serious cases, also those treating the Flying Spaghetti Monster, what constitutes a “bitch,” and how Abraham Lincoln used judicial notice to get a client off a battery charge... The only work of its kind. See the Law page.