The John Cardinal Crime Series

Blackfly Season

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Red Bear stood close to the fire and stretched toward the sky, every muscle in his body straining. The veins in his neck stood out like electrical cords. His voice had gone thin and raspy and the words came streaming out of him with a terrible urgency. The words– if in fact they were words – collided with one another. [Blackfly Season, page 94]

According to Detective John Cardinal, the truly diabolical thing about blackflies is their stealthy silence; there is no warning and no chance of a pre-emptive strike. Every year at the beginning of May, the blackflies take over Algonquin Bay, swarming in clouds out of their winter wombs in the standing water of lakes, creeks and swamps.

But this year, the blackflies aren’t the only ones to make their way into town. A self-proclaimed shaman and card-carrying member of the Chippewa First Nations has also arrived. Known only as Red Bear, the mysterious figure has recruited three young men from town who share a history of drug use and living on the fringe.

And Red Bear isn’t the only mysterious visitor. At the World Tavern, the oldest but perhaps least reputable bar in the city of Algonquin Bay, OPP officer Jerry Commanda is enjoying his regular Friday night Diet Coke with a squeeze of lemon. He meets a young red-haired woman who is unable to tell him her name, where she lives, or how she came to be at the World Tavern. It’s not until a hospital X-ray reveals a bullet lodged in her brain that the reason for her amnesia becomes clear.

When John Cardinal and Lise Delorme are called in to take over the case from Commanda, they don’t have a lot of leads on who this mysterious redhead is, let alone why someone would want her dead. And when the mutilated body of a member of the local biker gang the Viking Riders is discovered near long columns of bizarre hieroglyphics, Cardinal and Delorme begin to suspect that it is isn’t just Viking Rider justice.

Despite the climbing body count, Cardinal is distracted. His wife, Catherine, has left to go to Toronto with a group of her photography students and Cardinal is convinced that the stress and excitement of the trip will push her to the breaking point. His worst fears are confirmed when a call reaches him from a student concerned by Catherine’s erratic behaviour. Cardinal speeds to Toronto to reach his wife before she unravels.

When Cardinal returns, a third body turns up with a bullet from the same gun that shot the redhead. Linking the three murders and finding out who’s responsible becomes an intricate game of unravelling the secrets of families and decoding the mysteries of an ancient form of African voodoo.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter 1

Anybody who has spent any length of time in Algonquin Bay will tell you there are plenty of good reasons to live somewhere else. There is the distance from civilization, by which Canadians mean Toronto, 250 miles south. There is the gradual decay of the once-charming downtown, victim to the twin...
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“The rapacious insects…amount to a single, malevolent character…a fit match for the novel’s bloodthirsty murderer…. Blunt’s scriptwriting experience shows in his crisp dialogue and rapid-fire introduction of minor characters, while his literary gifts are apparent in Cardinal’s tortured soul.”

“Blunt has quickly [become] one of the top crime writers in Canada, indeed internationally, and deservedly so…. A few more novels like Blackfly Season and Blunt may well achieve literary iconic status himself.”
The Globe and Mail

“He’s a true samurai of the north. We care about Cardinal, and we miss him when he’s not on the page: we’ll follow him anywhere….Blackfly Season is a superior thriller. Blunt’s sense of place is unsurpassed, and the scenes and events have an icy clarity that is the hallmark of his style.”
Quill & Quire

“Based on a true crime, the pulsing, tightly plotted narrative again shows why Blunt (Forty Words for Sorrow) should be considered among the new practitioners of crime drama's elite.”
Publishers Weekly

“This simply isn’t your typical whodunit. Instead, Blunt’s detective hero, John Cardinal, isn’t a master of detection but a real live human being with a troubled wife whose deteriorating mental health lends the novel continuing tension. And Blunt can write; his characters are fully realized, his humour wry and he knows that stories are what we are…. Readers do not have to be devotees of genre crime fiction to enjoy Blackfly Season. Well paced and plotted, this is page-turning entertainment for all seasons that will leave you scratching imaginary blackfly bites.”
The Sun Times (Owen Sound)

“Blunt, in one fell swoop, has become the blackfly’s biggest promoter, plastering its name on his latest creation–a novel guaranteed to keep the razzle in the dazzle of one of Canada’s more inspired crime writers.”
–Ottawa Citizen

“Blunt writes with an easy style that reflects his experience in television. The narrative, complex but not over-burdened with a myriad of subplots, flows nicely. He has a good eye for physical detail, and he creates characters that have enough depth to maintain a reader’s interest–particularly his complex protagonist…. Cardinal fans, and those who haven’t experienced him before, won’t be disappointed by the veteran detective’s latest outing, which has enough twists and turns to keep them guessing, and they will, no doubt, be eager to read his fourth adventure.”
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald

“Crime buffs will revel in the painstaking detail of the ensuing investigation–lovingly researched by Blunt, who admits he has developed a fascination for such gory details.”
–The Windsor Star

“It takes a pretty confident (others would say misguided) writer to take on the usually trite amnesia gambit, but Blunt brings an unexpected emotional depth and psychological resonance to the matter, breathing new life into the cliché.”
National Post

“Blunt has written for television, and it shows in the tight prose and a plot that skips along at a good pace.”
NOW (Toronto)

“Blunt deftly weaves various plotlines together and tells a chilling story set in a beautiful but primitive environment.”
The London Free Press

“…Giles Blunt writes a taut, gripping tale of suspense that is loaded with gritty realism in a story that comes together like the pieces of a puzzle. Dogged police work, as opposed to quantum leaps of plot logic, turns Blackfly Season into a credible, dramatic yarn…. Few can match Blunt’s wit, wry observations and emotionally charged background sketches.”
Edmonton Journal

“All three plots are quietly engrossing and the characters, especially Cardinal, feel authentic, as does the landscape of pine, granite, cold lakes, bears, and bugs. Blunt, who grew up in North Bay, knows whereof he writes.”
Cottage Life

"Blunt sets his highly acclaimed Cardinal and Delorme series in Canada's remote Algonquin Bay, which is far from civilization, far from prosperous, and filled with such daily-living challenges as relentless winter storms followed by the spring arrival of rapacious black flies .…. his characters are wonderfully realistic; his pacing never flags; his knowledge of police procedure is accurate without being show-offy; and he leaves the reader not so much with a story as with a glimpse into a perfectly realized world. First-rate."
—Connie Fletcher, Booklist starred review

Praise for Giles Blunt:

“Giles Blunt dazzled us mystery lovers with Forty Words for Sorrow. Now he has done it again with The Delicate Storm. Don’t miss it.”
—Tony Hillerman

“Giles Blunt, whose previous novel, Forty Words for Sorrow, is one of the best debuts I’ve ever read, has brought back the same characters and the same setting, but has developed a more complex case in The Delicate Storm. . . . It’s every bit as good.”
The Globe and Mail

“[Giles Blunt] is one of the top crime writers around.”
National Post

The Delicate Storm follows [Forty Words for Sorrow] with the same wry humour, understated storytelling and sensitive understanding of how lives can be shattered by a single misstep. . . . Unput- downable reading.”
Calgary Herald

From the Hardcover edition.