Written by Giles Blunt
Format: Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Publisher: Vintage Canada
ISBN: 978-0-679-31500-1 (0-679-31500-4)
Pub Date: May 1, 2007
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The Planet Grief. An incalculable number of light years from the warmth of the sun. When the rain falls, it falls in droplets of grief, and when the light shines, it is in waves and particles of grief. From whatever direction the wind blows–south, east, north or west– it blows cinders of grief before it. Grief stings your eyes and sucks the breath from your lungs. No oxygen on this planet, no nitrogen; the atmosphere is composed entirely of grief. [By the Time You Read This, page 37]
Catherine Cardinal, wife of Sergeant John Cardinal, is dead. Ruled a suicide, it comes as no real surprise to those who knew her. Catherine had suffered from manic depression for over twenty years. Long stints of hospitalization were followed by healthy periods permeated by worry and anxiousness that everything would once again disintegrate. Her last hospital stay had been over a year ago. Catherine had been finding peace and fulfillment in her photography and taking her medication regularly. From years of experience, Cardinal had taken all of these signs to be positive and hopeful.
So along with coping with devastating grief, Cardinal is confused. Although a suicide note in Catherine’s handwriting was found at the scene, Cardinal isn’t convinced that his wife was responsible for her own death. She was distracted when she left to take pictures the night she died, but she was nowhere near the despondent state she attained when she was ill. It wasn’t adding up.
Everyone in the department, even his partner, Lise Delorme, believes Cardinal’s refusal to accept his wife’s suicide is only the denial that comes with the agony of his loss. Even his daughter, Kelly, has accepted her mother’s fate. But when Cardinal receives a card with a typewritten note inside taunting him about his wife’s death, he is resolute that someone has murdered Catherine.
In Cardinal’s line of work, a man can pile up a lot of enemies. The first likely suspect that comes to his mind is Kiki B., an “associate” of a drug dealer, Rick Bouchard, who he had sent to prison. Kiki B. knew where Cardinal lived and he had an axe to grind–Bouchard had been killed while serving his sentence.
With Delorme wrapped up in a nasty sex crimes case, Cardinal goes it alone. When Kiki B. turns out to have made a career change, Cardinal moves on to other members of the criminal element he’d had the pleasure to put away. As he moves through a long line of suspects, Cardinal finds himself settling on perhaps the most unlikely suspect of all.
From the Hardcover edition.
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
John Cardinal, Detective, Algonquin Bay Police Department:
Detective John Cardinal spent a number of years working for the Toronto Police Service, but when the oppression of the city overwhelmed him, he moved back to Northern Ontario. Compelled by the urge to protect the place that had protected him as a child, he joined the Algonquin Bay Police Department. As an investigator, Cardinal is known for his total immersion and dedication to a case. He has a sharp tongue, a keen sense of irony, and the habit of becoming painstakingly courteous when irritated or angry.
He is fiercely devoted to his wife, Catherine, and their daughter, Kelly. It is this devotion that pushed him to commit a crime, the implications of which haunt him still. It is the knowledge of this crime that keeps him from becoming self-righteous and intolerant and helps to makes him empathetic when dealing with those involved in the crimes he investigates. It is also this same secret that traps him in a loneliness as he feels he can never be truly knowable.
Lise Delorme, Sergeant, Algonquin Bay Police Department
Lise Delorme began her career in the Special Investigations Unit of the Algonquin Bay Police Department, making a name for herself when she successfully investigated, arrested, and charged an incumbent mayor. When she transferred to CID unit she was partnered with John Cardinal.
Sexy, smart, witty, and passionate, she is the object of the lustful attentions of many of her co-workers in the department, what Delorme calls “The Great Hall of Chauvinists.” Her high ethical standards and hard-nosed police work make her the perfect partner for Cardinal.
Wife of Detective John Cardinal, Catherine was diagnosed with severe depression in her twenties. Since then she has been in and out of institutions while her doctors have searched for just the right combination of medication and therapy to keep her on an even emotional keel.
When she is well, Catherine is cheerful, level-headed and responsible, and has a passion for photography. While she is devoted to her family, she also feels deep guilt and shame because of the impact of her illness on John and Kelly. Consequently, her relationship with John can be tense when she senses that he doubts her ability to take care of herself–a worry she herself possesses.
The only daughter of Catherine and John Cardinal, Kelly is a bright and beautiful visual artist living and studying in the United States. Beginning her education in fine arts at Harvard University, her circumstances change drastically after her father makes an unexpected revelation. The close relationship she has with her father, forged during the years in which her mother was hospitalized, is tested by her father’s confession. During this difficult time with her father she becomes close to her mother.
Paul Arsenault and Bob Collingwood, Identification, Algonquin Bay Police Department:
Arsenault and Collingwood are the two-man identification team of the Algonquin Bay Police Department. They are both detail-oriented and have a laser sharp ability to search for, find, and log evidence in a case. But that’s where the similarities end. Arsenault thinks out loud and talks to anyone who will listen. Collingwood, on the other hand, rarely speaks, leaving most of the communication to his partner. According to Delorme, Arsenault has had his sense of humour surgically removed.
Jerry Commanda, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP):
One of the best-known and respected police officers in Algonquin Bay, Jerry Commanda is now a member of the local Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment, often working in partnership with the Algonquin Bay Police Department when their jurisdictions overlap.
A four-time Ontario kickboxing champion, Commanda is quiet and in control and has an opaque sense of humour that only a few seem to appreciate. He has the habit of throwing people off by changing the subject suddenly and has a deep mistrust of authority that Cardinal attributes to his Native background. Despite being only in his forties, he often uses slightly outmoded words such as “kerfuffle” and “cantankerous.” He’s a former hard drinker who nevertheless has become a regular at the local pub, World Tavern, where he may be found every Friday night drinking Diet Coke with a squeeze of lemon.
R.J. Kendall, Chief of Police, Algonquin Bay Police Department:
Although small in stature (Delorme is almost a full head taller), Kendall is a formidable presence. Open and congenial, he has a larger-than-life laugh often accompanied by a hefty back slap. But on the occasions when Kendall lets loose his anger he is both a curser and a shouter, appearing larger and more imposing than one would expect from a man his size. After a blow-up, however, he often makes a gesture of thoughtfulness to smooth any ruffled feathers.
Ian MacLeod, Detective, Algonquin Bay Police Department:
The foul-mouthed, over-muscled, bad-tempered colleague of Cardinal and Delorme, MacLeod is the least popular member of the department. Looking for any opportunity to sow discord, MacLeod has an acute persecution complex, but his talents as a detective make him Cardinal’s second choice as a partner.
Malcolm Musgrave, Corporal, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP):
With the Sudbury detachment of the RCMP, Musgrave works on any cases in the area that have national implications, occasionally working with Cardinal and the Algonquin Bay Police Department. He is known for having killed two men in the line of duty under suspicious circumstances. With a block-shaped head and pale hair trimmed to a sandy bristle, he cuts an imposing figure. His brusque, know-it-all attitude makes him unpopular with Delorme and Cardinal both.
Cornelius Venn, Ballistics, Toronto Centre for Forensic Sciences:
As a ballistics expert, Venn is the quintessential scientist. His long hours in the lab have made him solitary and unsociable. According to Delorme, it’s as if Venn “studied his whole life to be a dork.”
Dr. Len Weisman, Coroner, Toronto Centre for Forensic Sciences:
Formerly a homicide investigator in Toronto for over ten years, Weisman is unfazed by even the most grisly of murders and has the disquieting habit of referring to bodies as “patients.” He is a small and compact man with thick, black, wiry hair and fashionable eyeglasses. He looks entirely the part of the professional scientist except for the sandals he wears due to a circulation problem that makes his feet hot.
From the Hardcover edition.
“An emotionally involving and intellectually challenging journey from night in to day. A fine and moving novel about bereavement.”
“Blunt writes a taut, gripping tale of suspense that is loaded with gritty realism. . . . Few can match his wit, wry observations and emotionally charged background sketches.”
“If Blunt ends the Cardinal series here, he has created a colourful parade of seasonal mysteries. But his readers will hope to meet Cardinal again, as a lion in winter.”
–Winnipeg Free Press
“Blunt, who has received Canadian and international awards for this series, once again proves he can set the scene better than almost anyone else in the crime genre. . . . There is something else Blunt excels at, and that is shedding light on the chilling inner workings of the criminal mind.”
–The Globe and Mail
“The most beautifully written, deeply felt page-turner of the year.”
–Kirkus (starred review)
“In a series that has already taken home numerous awards, this volume, Blunt’s fourth, stands out for its grace, compassion and the elegance of his writing. … It is a poignant literary work that nonetheless offers all the gritty satisfaction of a standard police procedural. This is, quite simply, a great book from a writer at the top of his form.”
Praise for Giles Blunt:
“Giles Blunt is one of the top crime writers around.”
“Giles Blunt writes with uncommon grace, style and compassion and he plots like a demon.”
“Blunt writes a taut, gripping tale of suspense that is loaded with gritty realism . . . Few can match his wit, wry observations and emotionally charged background sketches.”
“Giles Blunt has a tremendous talent.”
“Blunt should be considered among the new practitioners of crime drama’s elite.”
“[Blunt] can join the select group of writers – such as Ian Rankin and Tony Hillerman – who can locate their readers in a fictional universe as physically real as the chair they inhabit.”
About this Author
Giles Blunt grew up in North Bay, Ontario. After spending over twenty years in New York City, he now lives in Toronto. He has written scripts for Law & Order, Street Legal and Night Heat. He is the author of Forty Words for Sorrow, for which he won the British Crime Writers’ Macallan Silver Dagger; A Delicate Storm, winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel; and Blackfly Season, one of Margaret Cannon’s Best Mysteries of the Year.
From the Hardcover edition.
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