A retired Carleton University professor has made Ottawa the centre of his latest novel.

Anyone who knows Tom Henighan, who taught film studies and English at Carleton for 35 years, will immediately note similarities between the longtime city resident and the protagonist of his latest offering, Nightshade — other than the fact that they both call Westboro home.

Det. Sam Montcalm “talks a lot about Ottawa,” said Henighan, the author of about 20 other books, including The Well of Time, Mercury Man and Doom Lake Holiday. “And his opinions about it are pretty similar to mine.”

When Henighan moved to Ottawa back in the 1960s, he found it pretty dull, he admitted. “But over the years, it’s gotten quite interesting. It’s certainly not static ... It’s got a very scandalous history.”

The book follows the professional and personal trials of a private eye as a murder investigation leads him from Quebec City to Ottawa and into the Gatineau Hills.

The thriller novel is more popular than ever, said Henighan.

“They touch reality very closely. Not everyone wants to be transported to Mars or a Tolkien kingdom. In the police-type novel, the evil is very palpable and I think people like to deal with that because they’re shocked by what people do.”