The Delicate Storm

Paperback | April 26, 2011

byGiles Blunt

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…there is nothing more still than a dead body, and no mistaking it for anything else. This one was naked, covered with a glaze of ice. Even the long black hair that fell in tendrils across her face was encased in ice. It was as if she were under a spell–the victim of a jealous wizard, a wicked witch. [The Delicate Storm, page 164]

Algonquin Bay is wrapped in a thick blanket of fog; an eerie prophecy of weather on its way, or perhaps something more ominous. When a local man discovers a dismembered arm in his front yard, it seems that the long fingers of fog that strangle the city are also hiding a grisly secret. While at first the discovery is thought to be the work of ravenous bears, woken early from their long winter hibernation, the coroner later confirms that the victim was actually sawn into pieces rather torn. The case becomes even murkier when a local trapper confesses to cutting up the body and scattering the remains but claims to be innocent of committing the murder.

Detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme have their work cut out for them. After identifying the victim as Howard Matlock, New York city resident, a new player enters the ring: the RCMP. In any case involving an American, the RCMP shares jurisdiction with the Algonquin Bay Police Department and that means Corporal Malcolm Musgrave. A blustering wall of self-importance and attitude, Musgrave has Cardinal bristling, and he reminds Delorme of a betrayal she’d rather forget. To add insult to injury, Delorme is pulled off the case and Cardinal ends up in a partnership not only with Musgrave, but with the unbearably obsequious Calvin Squier, an agent of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

When Cardinal makes the surprising discovery that Howard Matlock is alive and well, he begins to suspect that not everyone involved in the case is working towards the same goal. The body parts add up to one Miles Shakeley, a CIA operative in Montreal in 1970, and Cardinal becomes suspicious that CSIS is somehow involved.


Meanwhile, the case of a missing woman in Algonquin Bay is occupying Delorme. When the body of Dr. Winter Cates is uncovered in a glaze of ice, Delorme is convinced that a jealous boyfriend is to blame. But when blood evidence bonds Cardinal and Delorme’s cases, they are back together and travelling to Montreal to track down tenuous leads. And it is there that they discover that their cases reach far beyond the town limits of Algonquin Bay. Untangling the secrets of a government in crisis, cover-ups, and the meddling of American intelligence agencies, they are eventually led back to where they started–and to a suspect who is untouchable.


From the Hardcover edition.

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From the Publisher

…there is nothing more still than a dead body, and no mistaking it for anything else. This one was naked, covered with a glaze of ice. Even the long black hair that fell in tendrils across her face was encased in ice. It was as if she were under a spell–the victim of a jealous wizard, a wicked witch. [The Delicate Storm, page 164]Algon...

GILES BLUNT grew up in North Bay, Ontario. After spending over twenty years in New York City, he now lives in Toronto. He is the author of Forty Words for Sorrow, for which he won the British Crime Writers' Macallan Silver Dagger; Blackfly Season, one of Margaret Cannon's Best Mysteries of the Year; By the Time You Read This, a nationa...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.8 inPublished:April 26, 2011Publisher:Random House of CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307360067

ISBN - 13:9780307360069

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Customer Reviews of The Delicate Storm

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Suspenseful Love John and Lise. Loved that the books are about somewhere I know. Stumbled onto Giles Blunt and now I've read them all.
Date published: 2016-06-09

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Read from the Book

Chapter 1First came the warmth. Three weeks after New Year’s and the thermometer did what it never does in January in Algonquin Bay: it rose above the freezing mark. Within a matter of hours the streets were shiny and black with melted snow.There wasn’t a trace of sun. A ceiling of cloud installed itself above the cathedral spire and gave every appearance of permanence. The warm days that followed passed in an oppressive twilight that lasted from breakfast to late afternoon. Everywhere there were dark mutterings about global warming.Then came the fog.At first it moved in fine tendrils among the trees and forests that surround Algonquin Bay. By Saturday afternoon it was rolling in thick clouds along the highways. The wide expanse of Lake Nipissing dwindled to a faint outline, then vanished utterly. Slowly the fog squeezed its way into town and pressed itself up against the stores and the churches. One by one the red brick houses retired behind the grubby grey curtain.By Monday morning Ivan Bergeron couldn’t even see his own hand. He had slept late, having drunk an unwise amount of beer while watching the hockey game the night before. Now he was making his way from the house to his garage, which was less than twenty yards away but totally obscured by fog. The stuff clung in webs to Bergeron’s face and hands; he could feel it trailing through his fingers. And it played tricks with sound. The yellow bloom of headlights glided by, dead slow, followed -- after an otherworldly delay -- by the sound of tires on wet road.Somewhere his dog was barking. Normally, Shep was a quiet, self-sufficient kind of mutt. But for some reason -- maybe the fog -- he was out in the woods and barking maniacally. The sound pierced Bergeron’s hungover skull like needles.“Shep! Come here, Shep!” He waited for a few moments in the murk, but the dog didn’t come.Bergeron opened up the garage and went to work on the battered Ski-Doo he had promised to fix by last Thursday. The owner was coming for it at noon, and the thing was still in bits and pieces around the shop.He switched on the radio, and the voices of the CBC filled the garage. Usually, when it was warm enough, he worked with the garage door open, but the fog lay in the driveway like some creature out of a nightmare and he found it depressing. He was just about to pull the door down when the dog’s barking got louder, sounding like it was coming from the backyard now.“Shep!” Bergeron waded through the fog, one hand out before him like a blind man. “Shep! For God’s sake, can it, willya?”The barking changed to growling, interrupted by peculiar canine whines. A tremor of unease passed through Bergeron’s outsize frame. Last time this had happened, the dog had been playing with a snake.“Shep. Take it easy, boy. I’m coming.”Bergeron moved with small steps now, edging his way forward like a man on a ledge. He squinted into the fog.“Shep?”He could just make the dog out, six feet away, down on his forepaws, clawing at something on the ground. Bergeron edged closer and took hold of the dog’s collar.“Easy, boy.”The dog whined a little and licked his hand. Bergeron bent lower to see what was on the ground.“Oh my God.”It lay there, fishbelly white, hair curling along one side. Toward the wrist end, the flesh still bore the zigzag impression of a watch with an expandable bracelet. Even though there was no hand attached, there was no doubt that the thing lying in Ivan Bergeron’s backyard was a human arm.* * * * *If it hadn’t been for Ray Choquette’s decision to retire, John Cardinal would not have been sitting in the waiting room with his father when he could have been down at headquarters catching up on phone calls, or -- better yet -- out on the street making life a misery for one of Algonquin Bay’s bad guys. But no. Here he was, stuck with his father, waiting to see a doctor neither of them had ever met. A female doctor at that -- as if Stan Cardinal was going to take advice from a woman. Ray Choquette, Cardinal thought, I could wring your lazy, inconsiderate neck.The senior Cardinal was eighty-three -- physically. The hair on his forearms was white now, and he had the watery eyes of a very old man. In other ways, his son was thinking, the guy never got past the age of four.“How much longer is she gonna make us wait?” Stan asked for the third time. “Forty-five minutes we’ve been sitting here. What kind of respect does that show for other people’s time? How can she possibly be a good doctor?”“It’s like anything else, Dad. A good doctor’s a busy doctor.”“Nonsense. It’s greed. A hundred percent pure capitalist greed. You know, I was happy making thirty-five thousand dollars a year on the railroad. We had to fight like hell to get that kind of money, and by God we fought for it. But nobody goes to medical school because they want to make thirty-five thousand dollars.”Here we go, Cardinal thought. Rant number 27D. It was like his father’s brain consisted of a collection of cassettes.“And then you’ve got the government playing Scrooge with these guys,” Stan went on. “So they become stockbrokers or lawyers, where they can make the kind of money they want. And then we end up with no damn doctors.”“Talk to Geoff Mantis. He’s the one who took the chainsaw to medicare.”“They’d make you wait, anyways, no matter how many of them there were,” Stan said. “It’s a class thing. Class not only must exist, it must be seen to exist. Making you wait is their way of saying, ‘I’m important and you’re not.’”“Dad, there’s a shortage of doctors. That’s why we have to wait.”“What I want to know is, what kind of young woman spends her day looking down people’s throats and up their anuses? I’d never do it.”“Mr. Cardinal?”Stan got to his feet with difficulty. The young receptionist came round from behind her desk, clutching a file folder.“Do you need some help?”“I’m fine, I’m fine.” Stan turned to his son. “You coming, or what?”“I don’t need to go in with you,” Cardinal said.“No, you come too. I want you to hear this. You think I’m not fit to drive, I want you to hear the truth.”From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

“It’s almost a crime how beautiful Blunt’s prose is…. You are preternaturally there with these characters, crunching across frozen parking lots, shivery at stakeouts in the woods–ordinary cop scenes that in the hands of a stylist like Blunt become means of ratcheting up suspense.” — Quill & Quire “The prose bristles with tension and Blunt presents a conspiracy starring all the right acronyms– CSIS, the RCMP, the CIA and the FLQ. The Delicate Storm is the second novel featuring Det. John Cardinal and I hope it won’t be the last.” — Chatelaine“…an absorbing, perfect-for-the-summer kind of read.” -- En Route“…a book that could be a contender for both the Arthur Ellis Award and the Stephen Leacock Medal.” -- Jack Batten in the Toronto Star“[Blunt] has an excellent grasp of the issues and history and does a great job of working them into the plot, and he never lets go of the characters, which is where he really shines.” -- Margaret Cannon in The Globe and Mail“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“[The Delicate Storm] tests positive on Blunt’s desriptive skills, which are undiminished. You are preternatuarally there with these characters, crunching across frozen parking lots, shivering at stakeouts in the woods -- ordinary cop scenes that in the hands of a stylist like Blunt become means of ratcheting up suspense.” -- Quill & Quire“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.” -- Publishers Weekly“This book is a diamond -- a glittering novel with sharp, hard edges and depth…[Blunt] has imagined many of the leading characters with insight and clarity…” -- Hamilton Spectator“It’s a kind of mystery that’s literate, smart and subtly political. It also has an unerring sense of time and place.” -- Edmonton Journal“Giles Blunt combines a massive ice storm, the conservative Ontario political scene and the FLQ crisis of 1970 into a crackerjack of a mystery novel…This book is a compulsive and intelligent page-turner.” -- Ken Kilpatrick for The Chronicle-Herald (Halifax)“Blunt has woven together fictional characters with recent history to create a narrative both instructive and compelling.” -- The National Post“…intriguing, well-considered and original.” -- The Vancouver Sun“…[Blunt] has devised another fascinating case for his affable protagonist…Blunt gradually unfolds the engaging plot, dropping clues as well as several red herrings and twists that will keep readers turning the pages…his dialogue is credible and his prose moves the book along to its gripping conclusion.” -- The Winnipeg Free Press“…wry humour, understated storytelling, and a sensitive understanding of how lives can be shattered by a single mistake…It is a multi-layered, elegantly written story that manages to transform ancient politics into unput-downable reading.” -- The Calgary Herald“Blunt weaves an interesting and easily read tale while laying out his mystery…[his] writing is smooth and compact and carries you along with the right amount of detail mixed with the right amount of action.” -- FFWD Magazine“This is good. The plot drives fast and well and the people speak like human beings. But it’s Blunt’s sense of place that is unique; that assures us he can join the select group of writers -- such as Ian Rankin and Tony Hillerman -- who can locate their readers in a fictional universe as physically real as the chair they inhabit.” -- The Observer“…riveting…the book has the urgency of a TV crime drama…The plot is vast but plausible…The prose bristles with tension…” -- Chatelaine“…offers lashings of suspense, excellent characters and prose and a well-told credible story worth the time spent reading it.” -- Victoria Times ColonistPraise for Giles Blunt’s Forty Words for Sorrow:“I wish I’d written Forty Words for Sorrow.” -- Tony Hillerman“Brilliant -- one of the finest crime novels I’ve ever read.” -- Jonathan Kellerman“Don’t read it just because it’s a good crime novel and because once you’ve begun, you won’t put it down until you’re finished. Read it because it’s excellent.” -- Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail“The final pages present the sort of ending rare in crime fiction, one which compels readers to congratulate everybody in sight -- themselves, the book’s characters and particularly the author.” -- The Toronto StarFrom the Hardcover edition.