Massive, magnificent, and dangerous. Many of us who regularly travel the Coquihalla highway can remember the year it opened, and the first time we drove those long, steep climbs and descents through the Coast Mountains. Our first views from near the summit were breathtaking. As long as you had a good vehicle and the weather was fair, it was a faster and easier trip from the town of Hope to BC’s Interior than the narrow and winding Fraser Canyon route of Highway 1. It was a magnificent addition to BC’s highway system just in time for Vancouver’s Expo ’86. (You might enjoy this video from the Vancouver Archives about the construction of the Coquihalla.)
It’s no wonder that when I began to plan my first novel in 1994, I chose to have the murder take place along what Discovery channel is now calling the “Highway Thru Hell” in their new reality series. In my frequent trips up the highway that summer with my late husband, I picked out a spot where an 18-wheeler could go off the road and not be seen for days at a time. It also had to be a spot where an accident was not likely to happen. When I found a perfect spot, not very far south of Merritt, SLOW CURVE ON THE COQUIHALLA was born.
In the intervening years, the layout along that stretch of highway has changed, but the highway itself remains dangerous and spectacular. I drove it again just last month, and like every time, I marvel at the magnificent snowshed and at the incredible rocky slopes of Zopkios peak.
If you like to read, especially if you like to read mystery novels, check out the first novel in the Hunter Rayne highway mystery series. Hunter Rayne is a former homicide detective who has chosen to make long haul trucking his second career. He feels that the solitude of life on the road will help him to heal from two events that devastated his personal life before he resigned from the RCMP. His crusty dispatcher, Elspeth Watson, tries to keep Hunter and his navy blue Freightliner busy, and sometimes persuades him to get involved in murder investigations.
Links to where you can purchase both digital and print editions of the Hunter Rayne highway mysteries are at Proud Horse Publishing, or ask your local bookstore or library to order it by giving them the ISBN 978-0-9881118-06.