Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt

Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover (available in mass-market), 326 pages, 2000

Rating: 9/10

Reason for Reading: Recommended at BookCrazy.

Synopsis: A number of teenagers in Algonquin Bay have gone missing, and Detective John Cardinal’s worst suspicions are confirmed with the discovery of the first body. Cardinal’s pursuit of the killer is impeded by problems at home, and his own criminal past being investigated, but he doesn’t have much time: another victim has been chosen.

Why you should read this book: A fast-paced suspense novel, Blunt pulls us not only into the urgency of finding the serial killer, but Detective Cardinal’s personal life as well. Blunt has a flair for developing characters while keeping the storyline moving along, something that is often lacking in other suspense writers.

Why you should avoid this book: If you like clean, neatly-tied up endings, you’ll have to keep reading. Blunt’s second book in the Cardinal series is The Delicate Storm.

Opening paragraph:

It gets dark early in Algonquin Bay. Take a drive up Airport Hill at four o’clock on a February afternoon and when you come back half an hour later, the streets of the city will glitter below you in the dark like so many runaways. The forty-sixth parallel may not be all that far north; you can be much further north and still be in the United States, and even London, England, is a few degrees closer to the North Pole. But this is Ontario, Canada, we’re talking about, and Algonquin Bay in February is the very definition of winter: Algonquin Bay is snowbound, Algonquin Bay is quiet, Algonquin Bay is very, very cold.

Fabulous quotes:

The rest of the side was blank. So was side two. They listened to the entire half-hour of tape hiss to make sure. Cardinal, Delorme and Setevic in utter silence. It was a long time before anyone spoke. Cardinal’s voice sounded terribly loud, even to himself. ‘You got anybody in Documents who can tell us more about this?’

‘Uh, no,’ Setevic said, still stunned.
‘Because we just listened to the murder of a young girl, and I want to know everything there is to know about this tape. Don’t you have anyone in Documents?’

‘Documents? Documents people are strictly paper and handwriting. Bunco stuff. But I’ll -‘ Steve coughed. Cleared his throat. He was a big man, looked like a man who could take care of himself, too, was Cardinal’s assessment; but he was still having a hard time with what they’d heard. ‘I’ll give you a phone number,’ he said at last. ‘There’s a guy the OPP like to use.’

There was a noise from out front and Delorme turned back to face her own desk. Low voices, laughter, a slamming locker. Delorme listed the handset on Cardinal’s phone and hit the automatic redial button. While waiting for it to pick up, she stared at a snapshot pinned next to Dyson’s memo. It was a felon, obviously – a huge man with a flat head made flatter by a brush cut. He was leaning back, apparently at ease, on a car, his weight seriously depressing the vehicle’s springs. Cops often kept pictures of their favourite collars, men who had shot them, that kind of thing.
Delorme’s reflections were interrupted by a voice she recognized. ‘Office of Forensic Medicine.’

‘Oh, sorry. Wrong number.’

Cardinal’s top drawer was open, hardly the habit of a guilty man; on the other hand, possibly the calculated gesture of a man who was very guilty indeed.

Also recommended: Lost Girls by Andrew Pyper; The Treatment by Mo Hayder.

Also by this author: By The Time You Read This; Blackfly Season; Cold Eye; The Delicate Storm.

Author’s website:

Awards: The CWA Silver Dagger for Fiction, 2001

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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