Reviewed by L.D.Y.
Hardcover (available in mass market), 308 pages, 2006
Reason for Reading: I read and loved two of Blunt’s previous novels, Forty Words for Sorrow and The Delicate Storm.
Synopsis: When Detective John Cardinal loses someone close to him, he refuses to believe it was suicide. The nasty, taunting notes he starts receiving in the mail have him convinced that the murder was committed by was someone he imprisoned, exacting their revenge on him in a way that would hurt the most. His colleagues look at him with pity, encouraging him to seek help to come to terms with reality – even Lisa Delorme, who is wrapped up in a child pornography case. But Cardinal is starting to wonder how the small town of Algonquin Bay can have so many suicides – and is determined to find out how many of them were actually murders.
Why you should read this book: If you enjoyed Blunt’s previous novels with Detective John Cardinal, By The Time You Read This will keep you on the hook without feeling repetitive. It’s not necessary to have read all of the previous Cardinal books (Forty Words for Sorrow, The Delicate Storm, and – one I missed – Blackfly Season) in order to follow along with the actual mystery, but since the death is so connected to Cardinal’s personal life, it helps. Blunt does an amazing job with plotting out a good mystery while integrating Cardinal’s personal life, which never feels like an afterthought the way it does with so many authors in this genre. If you like a good crime/detective story, you’ll be left guessing with this one as the normally level-headed Cardinal is swept up in all of his emotions and struggles to read people correctly. As the number of deaths in the northern Ontario community grow, the stakes keep rising until you’re holding your breath, hoping Cardinal can piece it together before a young woman with an already-tragic life doesn’t meet a miserable end. By The Time You Read This will get into your head and under your skin.
Why you should avoid this book: About two-thirds of the way into the book, you’ll think you know exactly what’s going on and wonder why there are so many pages left in the book. But keep going, you’re probably only partly right. The talk about child pornography and child abuse isn’t gratuitous, but any mention is too much for some people, so skip this book if you can’t handle it.
Nothing bad could ever happen on Madonna Road. It curls around the western shore of a small lake just outside Algonquin Bay, Ontario, providing a pine-scented refuge for affluent families with young children, yuppies fond of canoes and kayaks, and an artful population of chipmunks chased by galumphing dogs. It’s the kind of spot – tranquil, shady and secluded – that promises an exemption from tragedy and sorrow.
Burke turned back to the man with the gun, almost a boy, really.
‘I’m going to ask you again. Would you hand that weapon over, please? Butt first.’
By way of reply the man shucked a shell into the chamber. Burke’s heart fell into his shoes.
Cardinal tried to keep his mind fixed in investigative mode and not react to the words inside the card.
What a terrific husband you must have been, it said. Same set-up as before, original message of the card covered up with a typed message. She preferred death to living with you. Think about it. She literally preferred to die. That should give you some idea of what you’re worth.
Also recommended: The Devil’s Teardrop by Jeffery Deaver; Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith; The Zero Game by Brad Meltzer.
Also by this author: Forty Words for Sorrow; The Delicate Storm; Blackfly Season; No Such Creature; Breaking Lorca; Crime Machine; Cold Eye.
Fun tidbit: Blunt co-wrote an episode of Law and Order with novelist Robert Nathan.
Would I read more by this author? Absolutely. I’m thrilled that Blunt wrote three novels while I wasn’t looking so I have plenty to catch up on.
© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2010