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(By Krystyn Hayden) St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador, is undoubtedly one of the oldest settlements in all of the western hemisphere. The vibrant city, with an equally as colourful history, was officially incorporated with the passage of the City of St. John’s Act by the Newfoundland government in 1921.

Sitting along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean near the most-easterly point in North America, an incredibly old history dating back to before the 1500s makes St. John’s a small city with big stories. There’s no shortage of secrets and theories within the steep mazes of bright houses and unique preserved architecture. St. John’s contains an abundance of National Historic Sites, but what about the lesser known historical mysteries and secrets within town?

Not only is St. John’s referred to as a “paranormal hot spot”, but it holds its’ fair share of secrets within the cold war bunkers and 17th century tunnels running underneath a large portion of what is now considered downtown.

Living Her Dream

As a teenager growing up in such a historically fascinating and artistically driven city, bestselling crime-thriller author Helen C. Escott knew she wanted to be a writer her entire life.

“I am one of those people who are living their dream. When I was a teenager, I wanted to write novels.” Escott shared in a one-on-one interview. “In 2014 I was fifty years old and still not a published author. So, I retired and decided it’s time to have the job I always wanted. My career in the media and with the RCMP were the perfect mix of life and material to write from.”

You may recall Escott’s 2018 novel Operation Wormwood, the first novel in the Operation series, which became one of top 5 finalists in Canada for the Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlist for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing in 2019. The series continued and Operation Vanished, a psychological crime thriller, was awarded a Silver Medal for Best Regional Fiction at the 24th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards.

“I write from a place of outrage. When I become outraged about something I write that story. Each of my books deals with a subject of outrage: child abuse. Missing and murdered women. Human trafficking and greed.”

Masonic Roots St. John’s has masonic roots dating back to 1746. They built the first Masonic building on Long’s Hill in 1885, but it soon after became one of the many victims of the Great Fire of 1892. Former Newfoundland prime minister Sir William Whiteway, who was a Freemason, laid the cornerstone for what is known today as one of the most architecturally impressive buildings in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The Masons have always interested me. I have always had an interest in secret societies and what they do. I find that fascinating”, Escott explained. “I do an incredible amount of research for each book. I seek out experts and spend months reading and researching even before I write the first paragraph. For Operation Masonic, I interviewed John FitzGerald who is the Basilica Historian. He discovered that the St. John’s Basilica aligns with the winter and summer solstices and that sparked my interest."

History & Secrets

All of Escott’s books are based on real investigations with reoccurring characters throughout the Operation series. Operation Masonic, published by Flanker Press, is another one of her incredibly well-written murder-mysteries with the investigation led by Inspector Nicholas Myra from the RNC. The thrilling fictional story based on actual historical research is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing with every page. Captivating readers since the first book of the series, Escott proves her talents yet again with her graphic writing following the murder of the Freemasons’ Most Worshipful Grand Master, and Myra’s search for the killer through thousands of years of history, secrets, scandals, and symbols.

“When I bring a reader into a scene, I want them to not only know what it looks like, but what it smells like, what it sounds like. I get a lot of feedback from readers telling me they can see the movie in their minds, and I love that.”

Operation Masonic hit shelves August 17. You can find all novels by Helen C. Escott at: Chapters and Coles, and online at:, Apple — iTunes, Amazon and Kobo. For more information on the author, visit

Buy the Operation Series here

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Operation Masonic (my Goodreads review)

This story, the fifth in the Operation series, is filled with information and facts about Newfoundland and the free masons. If you've ever experienced either the place or the Society, this book will strike a cord. Add to that a crime, well really several crimes, and you have the makings of a great tale. I also enjoyed having several familiar characters back again.

As much as this book/story was about the free masons and the crimes, it also had a new policewoman's family story woven into the mix as her family navigates life with a child on the Autism spectrum.

This book is masferfully crafted & woven together. I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

Old Lady Story
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