||A Review of: The Delicate Storm
by Des McNally
It's foggy, it's ghostly, it's raining, a dismal January in Algonquin
Bay, Northern Ontario, and Nigel Blunt has already convinced me
that it may be a nice place to visit, but that I wouldn't want to
live there. Another reason for my reluctance to relocate is the
dismembered body discovered strewn throughout the woods on which
bears have dined "al fresco." The body parts turn out to
be those of an American whose identity proves to be an enigma.
Blunt's hero, Detective John Cardinal, is assigned to find, not
just the perpetrator of the crime but also his motive, and the true
identity of the victim.
The pace at the start of this novel is somewhat leisurely, perhaps
reflecting the pace of life in this small community. However, with
the introduction of Doctor Winter Cates and the eventual discovery
of her frozen corpse, the whole narrative becomes tighter and more
urgent. Cardinal can see no obvious connection between the two
murders and is stymied in his investigation by an assortment of
individuals from other arms of the Canadian law system.
Still, as the case proceeds and the search for the truth continues,
Cardinal's, and his associate, Lise Delorme's persistence causes
them to become embroiled in Quebec's FLQ crisis of 30 years
earlier-though what could be the connection between that unhappy
time and the murder of two people in Algonquin Bay?
Hampered by the reluctance of witnesses, the deaths of more people,
and the refusal of other agencies to share information, Cardinal
and Delorme find the cases to be complex and success to be elusive.
Nevertheless, undeterred they painstakingly reconstruct the clues
from the past and present and deliver a solution, with a twist.
Although Blunt lived in New York City for 20 years, his familiarity
with, and understanding of Canadian politics, is commendable. From
the internecine competition between local and provincial police,
the RCMP and CSIS, Canada's intelligence agency, to the views of
right- and left- wing politicians, Blunt demonstrates his awareness
of what is happening in Canada. His sojourns into Canada's troubled
political past are addictive to the point where the reader finds
that the murder cases practically taking a backseat to Blunt's
description of that disturbing period. And it's surely no coincidence
that Blunt's Ontario Premier is called Geoff Mantis? Would his
nickname be "Preying"?
Throughout his book Blunt treats his characters, including the
ailing wife, irascible father, and shady criminal characters with
empathy, a treatment that heightens the cast's appeal. I was
particularly drawn to Simone Roualt, an aging separatist turned
The Delicate Storm is wonderfully written, with a seductive pace
and narrative, surely a successful follow-up to Forty Words for
Sorrow, which earned Blunt the British Crime Writer's Macallan
Silver Dagger Award.
Blunt has successfully delivered another mesmerizing and imaginative
thriller that is uniquely Canadian. I was almost surprised to
encounter in this novel the imperial system of measurement instead
of the metric.