Format: Paperback, 448 pages
Publisher: Seal Books
ISBN: 978-0-7704-2933-1 (0-7704-2933-5)
Pub Date: September 26, 2006
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Red Bear stood close to the fire and stretched toward the sky, every muscle in his body straining. The veins in his neck stood out like electrical cords. His voice had gone thin and raspy and the words came streaming out of him with a terrible urgency. The words– if in fact they were words – collided with one another. [Blackfly Season, page 94]
According to Detective John Cardinal, the truly diabolical thing about blackflies is their stealthy silence; there is no warning and no chance of a pre-emptive strike. Every year at the beginning of May, the blackflies take over Algonquin Bay, swarming in clouds out of their winter wombs in the standing water of lakes, creeks and swamps.
But this year, the blackflies aren’t the only ones to make their way into town. A self-proclaimed shaman and card-carrying member of the Chippewa First Nations has also arrived. Known only as Red Bear, the mysterious figure has recruited three young men from town who share a history of drug use and living on the fringe.
And Red Bear isn’t the only mysterious visitor. At the World Tavern, the oldest but perhaps least reputable bar in the city of Algonquin Bay, OPP officer Jerry Commanda is enjoying his regular Friday night Diet Coke with a squeeze of lemon. He meets a young red-haired woman who is unable to tell him her name, where she lives, or how she came to be at the World Tavern. It’s not until a hospital X-ray reveals a bullet lodged in her brain that the reason for her amnesia becomes clear.
When John Cardinal and Lise Delorme are called in to take over the case from Commanda, they don’t have a lot of leads on who this mysterious redhead is, let alone why someone would want her dead. And when the mutilated body of a member of the local biker gang the Viking Riders is discovered near long columns of bizarre hieroglyphics, Cardinal and Delorme begin to suspect that it is isn’t just Viking Rider justice.
Despite the climbing body count, Cardinal is distracted. His wife, Catherine, has left to go to Toronto with a group of her photography students and Cardinal is convinced that the stress and excitement of the trip will push her to the breaking point. His worst fears are confirmed when a call reaches him from a student concerned by Catherine’s erratic behaviour. Cardinal speeds to Toronto to reach his wife before she unravels.
When Cardinal returns, a third body turns up with a bullet from the same gun that shot the redhead. Linking the three murders and finding out who’s responsible becomes an intricate game of unravelling the secrets of families and decoding the mysteries of an ancient form of African voodoo.
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.
“The rapacious insects…amount to a single, malevolent character…a fit match for the novel’s bloodthirsty murderer…. Blunt’s scriptwriting experience shows in his crisp dialogue and rapid-fire introduction of minor characters, while his literary gifts are apparent in Cardinal’s tortured soul.”
“Blunt has quickly [become] one of the top crime writers in Canada, indeed internationally, and deservedly so…. A few more novels like Blackfly Season and Blunt may well achieve literary iconic status himself.”
— The Globe and Mail
“He’s a true samurai of the north. We care about Cardinal, and we miss him when he’s not on the page: we’ll follow him anywhere….Blackfly Season is a superior thriller. Blunt’s sense of place is unsurpassed, and the scenes and events have an icy clarity that is the hallmark of his style.”
–Quill & Quire
“Based on a true crime, the pulsing, tightly plotted narrative again shows why Blunt (Forty Words for Sorrow) should be considered among the new practitioners of crime drama's elite.”
“This simply isn’t your typical whodunit. Instead, Blunt’s detective hero, John Cardinal, isn’t a master of detection but a real live human being with a troubled wife whose deteriorating mental health lends the novel continuing tension. And Blunt can write; his characters are fully realized, his humour wry and he knows that stories are what we are…. Readers do not have to be devotees of genre crime fiction to enjoy Blackfly Season. Well paced and plotted, this is page-turning entertainment for all seasons that will leave you scratching imaginary blackfly bites.”
–The Sun Times (Owen Sound)
“Blunt, in one fell swoop, has become the blackfly’s biggest promoter, plastering its name on his latest creation–a novel guaranteed to keep the razzle in the dazzle of one of Canada’s more inspired crime writers.”
“Blunt writes with an easy style that reflects his experience in television. The narrative, complex but not over-burdened with a myriad of subplots, flows nicely. He has a good eye for physical detail, and he creates characters that have enough depth to maintain a reader’s interest–particularly his complex protagonist…. Cardinal fans, and those who haven’t experienced him before, won’t be disappointed by the veteran detective’s latest outing, which has enough twists and turns to keep them guessing, and they will, no doubt, be eager to read his fourth adventure.”
–The Halifax Chronicle-Herald
“Crime buffs will revel in the painstaking detail of the ensuing investigation–lovingly researched by Blunt, who admits he has developed a fascination for such gory details.”
–The Windsor Star
“It takes a pretty confident (others would say misguided) writer to take on the usually trite amnesia gambit, but Blunt brings an unexpected emotional depth and psychological resonance to the matter, breathing new life into the cliché.”
“Blunt has written for television, and it shows in the tight prose and a plot that skips along at a good pace.”
“Blunt deftly weaves various plotlines together and tells a chilling story set in a beautiful but primitive environment.”
–The London Free Press
“…Giles Blunt writes a taut, gripping tale of suspense that is loaded with gritty realism in a story that comes together like the pieces of a puzzle. Dogged police work, as opposed to quantum leaps of plot logic, turns Blackfly Season into a credible, dramatic yarn…. Few can match Blunt’s wit, wry observations and emotionally charged background sketches.”
“All three plots are quietly engrossing and the characters, especially Cardinal, feel authentic, as does the landscape of pine, granite, cold lakes, bears, and bugs. Blunt, who grew up in North Bay, knows whereof he writes.”
"Blunt sets his highly acclaimed Cardinal and Delorme series in Canada's remote Algonquin Bay, which is far from civilization, far from prosperous, and filled with such daily-living challenges as relentless winter storms followed by the spring arrival of rapacious black flies .…. his characters are wonderfully realistic; his pacing never flags; his knowledge of police procedure is accurate without being show-offy; and he leaves the reader not so much with a story as with a glimpse into a perfectly realized world. First-rate."
—Connie Fletcher, Booklist starred review
Praise for Giles Blunt:
“Giles Blunt dazzled us mystery lovers with Forty Words for Sorrow. Now he has done it again with The Delicate Storm. Don’t miss it.”
“Giles Blunt, whose previous novel, Forty Words for Sorrow, is one of the best debuts I’ve ever read, has brought back the same characters and the same setting, but has developed a more complex case in The Delicate Storm. . . . It’s every bit as good.”
—The Globe and Mail
“[Giles Blunt] is one of the top crime writers around.”
“The Delicate Storm follows [Forty Words for Sorrow] with the same wry humour, understated storytelling and sensitive understanding of how lives can be shattered by a single misstep. . . . Unput- downable reading.”
From the Hardcover edition.
About this Author
Giles Blunt grew up in North Bay, Ontario. After spending over twenty years in New York City, he has recently moved back to 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, and The Delicate Storm, winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel.
From the Hardcover edition.
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