Thursday, February 01, 2007


Early in Blunt's fourth John Cardinal novel, the Algonquin Bay detective's beloved and troubled wife Catherine goes out on a photography assignment and does not return. The evidence, particularly a note written by Catherine, points to suicide, but a grieving, very vulnerable Cardinal cannot accept that his wife killed herself.

About a third of the way through the novel, Blunt reveals that Catherine's psychiatrist betrayed her trust along with that of his other patients and indirectly encouraged them toward suicide. The novel's real power then comes not from who-done-it, but from exploring how and why he does it.

In a subplot, Cardinal's colleague Lise Delorme opens a cold child pornography case wherein the sexual predator takes similar advantage of his victims' vulnerability. To Blunt's credit, while the subject matter is appropriately disturbing, the care with which he drew each character kept me reading.

In a novel heavy on human interest, Blunt keeps the procedural elements in sight, intersecting the plotlines believably and providing the right clues at the right moments. Recommended.

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