BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS by Giles Blunt (Random House), 308 pages, $32.95 cloth. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
When we last met hardworking detective John Cardinal, it was blackfly season in the bush and tempers were turning violent. Now the motorboats have gone and the crisp, clear days of autumn have arrived in Algonquin Bay, bringing with them the scent of new beginnings - and a tragedy that turns Cardinal's life upside down.
No one is surprised when his wife, Catherine, is found at the foot of an unfinished apartment building, a suicide note in hand least of all her psychiatrist. But John Cardinal is in denial. True, Catherine had a long history of depression, but she had just embarked on a new photography project and seemed happier than she'd been in a long time.
Soon, malicious sympathy cards start arriving in the mail, and Cardinal becomes convinced Catherine was murdered. With the help of his partner, who's immersed in a nasty case of her own, he opens his own investigation into his wife's death. Turns out the small town of Algonquin Bay has had more than its share of suicides.
By The Time You Read This is Giles Blunt's fourth John Cardinal novel set in his thinly disguised hometown of North Bay. Sadly, the cast of screwball characters that made last year's Blackfly Season a refreshing read have gone fishing. This latest mystery moves into town and shifts the focus to Cardinal. He's a good cop and a likeable guy, but he just doesn't get my blood running.
Still, Blunt has crafted an engaging, well-plotted mystery with some nice connections and unsettling moments. And there's a flicker here of a new Cardinal, one who's less willing to play by the rules.
It will be interesting to see what Blunt does with him next.