Blackfly Season by Giles Blunt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Giles Blunt's "Blackfly Season" is the third novel in the Cardinal/Delorme series (and the fourth that I have read). While the first book in the series, "Forty Words for Sorrow", is a good and engaging police procedural, this novel is again quite unspectacular, despite the author being out of the usual "sophomore slump".
Detectives Cardinal an Delorme are now trying to solve the case that begins when a young woman who seems to have lost her memory and does not know who she is wanders into a bar in Algonquin Bay. The case soon morphs into something much more sinister. Brutal murders happen, and the story veers in a rather surprising direction. There are no hints about this plot twist in the blurb on the book cover, so I will avoid spoilers as well. Let me just say that one would not expect this particular plot direction to occur in Northern Ontario.
I do not find the plot particularly interesting. What's worse, the novel does not tell me anything about Cardinal, Delorme, or Cardinal's wife that I have not already learned from the other books. At the risk of sounding callous, I will confess that I have had it with the thread of Catherine's mental illness. Hints of Cardinal's patronizing tone as well as several false notes in an otherwise excellent portrayal of a manic attack of manic-depressive Catherine bother me. The main bad character is rather cartoonishly evil. On the other hand, Kevin's imaginary talks with celebrities are pleasantly off-beat and the author provides some refreshingly non-pop-psychology insights into the dynamics of addiction.
It is difficult to write a book series featuring recurring characters without being repetitive. Most authors flunk this test and, basically, rewrite the same novel over and over again. This is definitely not something that I am looking for in books. I have to admit, though, that Mr. Blunt's writing is skillful and that reading this novel has been a painless waste of time.
Two and a half stars.
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