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FORTY WORDS FOR SORROW
by Giles Blunt
G. P.Putnam's Sons, June 2001
$24.95
ISBN: 0399147527


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A couple of kids found a body of a child in a mine shaft on Windigo Island outside of Algonquin Bay. Detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorne are assigned to investigate. The fear is that this is the body of Katie Pine, 13 year old native, who had gone missing. Two other young people were missing and Cardinal had been taken off homicide for obsessing on the case of missing children to the detriment of the department's finances. But now he is back on.

About half way through this book ceases to be a mystery and becomes sheer appalling and frightening suspense. We learn who is committing these acts of violence and that they have a new victim ready to torture and kill and now it becomes a question of whether the police will find them before the new victim dies. There is also a secondary mystery because Delorne, once on Special Branch, is investigating Cardinal. Someone in the police department has been tipping off a notorious criminal and every time the police are about to arrest him in the commission of a crime, he disappears. Cardinal seems to fit the bill.

The suspense in this book is nail-biting. As the two murderers describe in detail the sort of torture they want to do, we can only hope and pray the police are good enough at their jobs. The victim nearly gets free once, but then is caught again. It seems hopeless. And meanwhile the Mounties are closing in on the police informer. Everything seems to be coming to a head. And yet there are a few twists left for the reader on this wild roller coaster of a ride.

The characters are believable and empathetic. The police are so human with faults and day-to-day problems and flashes of insight. Cardinal's wife is manic-depressive and during these events in hospital. Delorne is a loner who has little self-confidence except in her police work where she knows she is good. There is a singular attraction between the two that cannot go anywhere but still draws them together. The criminals are emotional cripples who torture and murder but unfortunately they also are human, losers, outsiders, realistic.

The story plays out against a backdrop of snow and cold, February in Canada. The cold thrusts to the very bone and reading this book required an afghan and a blanket just to keep me comfortable. It is well-written and never draws the reader out of the story. The plot is well-done. It surprised me a little when the identities of the criminals were divulged but this allowed the writer to then draw the reader into the story even more because we know things the police do not.

This is a very fine book and I highly recommend it.

Editor's Note: This is a review of the hardcover edition. The paperback was issued in March 2002

Reviewed by Sally A. Fellows, May 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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