Skip to content

Island writer pens zany book based on a family vacation in Mexico

Gary Trew's 'The Man with the Pink Sombrero' was released in January
Gary Trew holds a copy of 'The Man with the Pink Sombrero,' his first book filled with dark humour and crime fiction.

A Nanaimo writer has penned his first book loosely based on a handful of incidents he and his family encountered while on vacation in Mexico.

Author Gary Trew, who has adopted the pseudonym Denny Darke for The Man with the Pink Sombrero, said that while the story was written on location and shares parallels with real life, is still very much a work of dark humour and crime fiction.

Trew described the book, which came out earlier this year in January, as an escapade involving a Canadian family whose dream vacation goes “pear shaped” when they share a condominium with a group of “raucous and thoughtless” cartel members. 

"And then Jimmy (the protagonist) ends up borrowing money, and it all goes downhill," the writer said, adding the thought struck him after he lost his wallet on vacation. 

The name of the story originates from one of the characters – a stuttering and merciless hitman with a pink sombrero. 

Other similarities to the writer’s vacation includes his friends as characters, family traditions, the celebration of Noche de Rábanos – Night of the Radishes, and the mention of “a well-known river full of crocodiles where bodies were rumoured to be disposed of.”

The writer credits his love of humour for somehow surviving careers in the U.K. police force, as well as with child protection services with the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

“My heart is and always has been to help kids,” he said, adding that his own experiences as a child inspired him to work with vulnerable children.

The writer is also working on a memoir, called The Hate Game, under his own name, that is based on his experiences as a teenager with themes of abuse, illness, death of a parent, and bullying – when “dark humour and his love of books kept him from taking his own life.” 

Trew hopes his memoir will be ready for release later this summer.

The Man with the Pink Sombrero can be purchased online at or