Prepare to be shocked. Prepare to be emotionally drained. If you have not yet met Giles Blunt’s hero Detective John Cardinal, this is a book you must read.
Returning from an awkward and boring stakeout, Cardinal receives a call about a mysterious death at Algonquin Bay’s only high-rise apartment building. When he arrives, he finds a suspected suicide – his own wife, Catherine. Detective Delorme, Cardinal’s partner, finds a suicide note on the roof confirming her suspicions that Catherine has committed suicide:
Catherine had been suffering from depression, but Cardinal cannot believe that she committed suicide. As he struggles with his grief, he begins the painful process of reconstructing his life without his wife.
By the time you read this, I will have hurt you beyond all forgiveness. There are no words to tell you how sorry I am. Please know that I’ve always loved you – never more so than at this moment – and if there had been any other way…
When Cardinal starts getting horrible notes in a series of sympathy cards, he begins to investigate his wife’s “suicide.” His investigation takes him on a journey through Catherine’s last days – her colleagues at the local community college, her psychiatrist, her friends, etc. He discovers that the cards have been sent to him by someone with an ironclad alibi. However, the investigation reveals that Catherine’s suicide note has a mysterious fingerprint on it. Whose is it? Will it reveal her killer?
As the novel progresses, the small town of Algonquin Bay is disturbed by yet another suicide - this time a young man who was also being treated for depression by Catherine’s psychiatrist. He decides to blow his brains out at the local Laundromat because his girlfriend is cheating on him. Delorme is called in to investigate and once again finds a clear example of suicide. In the meantime, Delorme is investigating a horrendous case of child pornography linked to Algonquin Bay. She is desperate to find the abuser – and free the young woman from her horrendous ordeal. The location of many of the abusive pictures turns out to be a boat in the local marina. Who is the abuser? Where is the little girl?
Giles Blunt ties up all the loose ends in an incredible conclusion that will leave you speechless. The process of putting these rather unrelated crimes together into a cohesive whole makes Blunt’s new book fascinating reading. His characters are so human that you feel you know them. His observations about life are amazingly perceptive, such as Delorme’s description of a home she is investigating: “She had been in near hovels that contained televisions the size of blackboards.” (p. 132)
Readers who already know Cardinal will be shocked and grief-stricken when his wife is found dead. How can she, who struggled so hard and so long against her psychological demons, have committed suicide? We do not want to believe it and cheer Cardinal on in his quest for her killer. At first, the reader cannot believe that this villain could be considered but, as the mystery unravels, is drawn into his web. The surprise ending will keep you thinking about Blunt for days to come – and looking forward to his next novel.
Blunt is an award-winning mystery writer who was born in Canada but has lived in New York for twenty-two years. He has won Britain’s Silver Dagger and Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award. By the Time You Read This is sure to garner fresh accolades.