Friday, February 25, 2011

CRIME MACHINE by Giles Blunt (2010) Random House Canada, 294 pages

What a delight to return to the sane company of Detective John Cardinal, Algonquin Bay's contemplative and fair-minded investigator.

CRIME MACHINE finds Cardinal working on cold-case files during the day and spending platonic evenings with his work partner Lise Delorme a year after his beloved wife Catherine's unexpected death (Read BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS for her emotionally complicated story). Cardinal has moved out of the home he shared with Catherine and their daughter and now lives in a cramped apartment that's walking distance from Delorme's place.

The winter quiet that has enveloped Algonquin Bay like a blanket is soon fractured by the deaths of two out-of-towners who are discovered beheaded in a summer property that had been on the market. As lead investigator on the case, Cardinal soon realizes that appearances are deceiving. Puzzling his way through this case, Cardinal becomes entangled with the FBI, allegedly upstanding members of the local community, the press, the fur industry, a young Native woman and possibly the Russian mafia. And, though Cardinal does solve the current crime and one of his cold cases, it's not before both his and Delorme's lives are put at risk.

What is remarkable to me about this novel is how Blunt so flawlessly inhabits the minds of all of his characters, so you not only feel sympathy for the victims, but also for the monstrous villains as well.

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