THE DELICATE STORM
Blunt forgoes the shock and violence of his previous crime novel, Forty Words for Sorrow (winner of the British Crime Writers' Macallan Silver Dagger Award), in this standout sequel—though one might not think so after reading the grisly opening. Det. John Cardinal of the Algonquin Bay, Ontario, police force is called in to investigate the severed arm of a white male that has been dragged out of the woods by a neighborhood dog. After the remaining pieces of the body turn up and the man is identified as an American citizen, John and his French-Canadian partner, Lise Delorme, are immersed in a case that involves more bodies, a 30-year-old unsolved murder with ties to the violently separatist Québec Liberation Front, and clashes among various law enforcement agencies, including the Mounties, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the local police. There are also the ordinary and extraordinary personal problems of the wonderfully drawn characters. Cardinal's wife is clinically depressed, and his father is sick. Lise's ethnicity does not help her win the trust of the locals. The novel's fascination lies not only in the meticulous unspooling of the plot, but in watching Cardinal and Delorme uncover the lattice of events linking the political clashes of the past and the covered-up crimes of the present. The detectives maneuver gingerly through a beautiful but dangerous landscape frozen beneath the weight of a once-in-a-century ice storm. In a genre where writers often compete to create vile, loathsome villains perpetrating outrageous crimes, Blunt stands as a master craftsman who shows us not only darkness, but also decency. (June 2)
Forecast:A tame jacket won't help this noteworthy thriller, but word of mouth is sure to be strong.