Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is many things to many people – a place for a relaxing stroll in native grasslands, a bike ride along a scenic trail, or an idyllic family picnic.
For a murderer, it offers a variety of excellent places to dump a body.
If you’re P.D. (Pamela) Workman, part of the allure of Glenbow Ranch is that it has a number of good cadaver dumpsites.
“Oh tons,” she said, with a somewhat disturbing laugh.
“It’s beautiful wild area, there’s so many trees, bodies of water, a little ravine – oh, it’s a glorious place to dump a body.”
Readers not be alarmed – Workman is not talking about reality, but rather, her work as murder mystery novelist. The second in the ‘Parks Pat’ series of murder mysteries penned by Workman, Long Climb to the Top, is about a fictional murder that takes place in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.
It’s a setting that holds a special place in her heart. Workman formerly worked as a legal assistant to lawyer Andy Crooks, the lawyer for the Harvie family, who provided the land for the provincial park over a decade ago. She worked with the family for a number of years and worked with multiple levels of government to get everything in order for the sprawling park’s creation.
She also helped with the build-out of the park trails and amenities, the establishment of the stewards to help take care of the park, and much more.
“I live on the east side of Calgary, so I don’t get out [to Glenbow Ranch] as much as I’d like,” Workman said. “I grew up in the northwest of Calgary, so my memories of Cochrane are going to the ice cream parlour, and I’ve written MacKay’s into a few of the books in the series.”
Workman was so enamoured with Glenbow Ranch growing up that her parents had a special name for it.
“They’d say, ‘We’re going to Pam’s Park’”, she said.
Workman even sponsored an acre in the wetlands section, as a part of a park fundraising initiative last year that encouraged park visitors to ‘Steward an Acre.’
“That’s Pam’s Little Acre,” she added.
In Long Climb to the Top, detective Margie (Parks Pat) Patenaude is called out to a homicide scene at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. The crime has disturbing similarities to a previous case Patenaude worked on, which was set in Calgary's Fish Creek Provincial Park.
Workman – an extensive writer who has penned 87 novels in her lifetime – describes her murder mystery series as a police procedural. Each book in the six-part ‘Parks Pat’ series can be read as a stand-alone mystery or together with the others.
The protagonist Margie is a Métis single mom who moved to Calgary from Winnipeg and becomes a homicide officer adept at solving murders, especially in parks.
Workman clearly enjoys her work, including the research aspects. She added she sometimes looks behind her to make sure nobody is listening as she imagines the murder scenes out loud.
“I’ve enjoyed visiting and touring parks to look for good places to kill people or dump bodies,” she said with a laugh.
Workman said there are a couple of good books that cover the history of the Glenbow Ranch area, but hers is more about entertainment.
“None of them are as fun as, you know, murdering people out there,” she said.
The mystery series can be purchased through P.D. Workman's website pdworkman.com, or at other online retailers. The Owl's Nest bookstore in Calgary also has several copies stocked and can order more upon request.
Workman’s 87th book, Fail, a young adult novel, was released on Friday, Aug. 19. It is available online on her website.