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Blackfly Season

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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 C 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.


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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 C 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.

30 review for Blackfly Season

  1. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I very much enjoyed this book without being aware that it was number three in a series until I was reading the reviews after I finished it! Now I will have to go back and read the first two. This is an excellent police procedural with several really appealing main characters on the side of the law. On the other side, the baddies are really bad and some of the events gruesome in the extreme. It all made for excellent reading and I raced through it. A really good book from a new to me author with th I very much enjoyed this book without being aware that it was number three in a series until I was reading the reviews after I finished it! Now I will have to go back and read the first two. This is an excellent police procedural with several really appealing main characters on the side of the law. On the other side, the baddies are really bad and some of the events gruesome in the extreme. It all made for excellent reading and I raced through it. A really good book from a new to me author with the promise of more fun with the rest of the series. Excellent:)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    After not hugely enjoying the second book in this series, Blackfly Season was a welcome return to the form that I enjoyed so much in the first book. It all begins when a confused young woman is found, memory-less and unconcerned. After discovering she's somehow survived a horrific attack, John Cardinal and Lise Delorme find themselves hunting down a man with a power they've never imagined. Giles Blunt really excels at bringing his books to reflect real-life scenarios; Palo Mayombe really was used After not hugely enjoying the second book in this series, Blackfly Season was a welcome return to the form that I enjoyed so much in the first book. It all begins when a confused young woman is found, memory-less and unconcerned. After discovering she's somehow survived a horrific attack, John Cardinal and Lise Delorme find themselves hunting down a man with a power they've never imagined. Giles Blunt really excels at bringing his books to reflect real-life scenarios; Palo Mayombe really was used (or misused; practitioners argue it was warped from true Palo) by at least one Mexican cartel to absolutely horrific effect. While a lot of that horror is minimised in this book by vastly downscaling the body-count, there are still some chilling moments; especially in the very well-portrayed moments where a psychopath slips and shows his true colours. The outskirts of the story were just as well done as the central mystery. Catherine Cardinal continues to be a nuanced and supremely thoughtful portrayal of a person living a life compromised by the issues accompanying her mental illness. The police force is still full of characters who could walk away with a spinoff novel at a moment's notice (more Jerry, please!). My one complaint is that Lise is very much taking a backseat for this novel. Hope to see more of her in the next few.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    Another great read. Once again I enjoyed the chemistry between Cardinal and Delorme as they solved this case. It was also nice to see the return of the secondary characters from the police and forensics departments that were introduced to us in the first two books of the series (nice to have that continuity, I think) as well as new ones as they worked to solve the murders. The "life" of drug addicts was a bit disturbing and the voodoo story line was creepy. Recommend for fans of Giles Blunt and t Another great read. Once again I enjoyed the chemistry between Cardinal and Delorme as they solved this case. It was also nice to see the return of the secondary characters from the police and forensics departments that were introduced to us in the first two books of the series (nice to have that continuity, I think) as well as new ones as they worked to solve the murders. The "life" of drug addicts was a bit disturbing and the voodoo story line was creepy. Recommend for fans of Giles Blunt and those who like crime related books.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    The third John Cardinal novel is as good as the first two. It begins with quite a narrative hook: a young woman is brought in who has no memory of her life or identity. It soon becomes clear that she was shot in the head with a handgun using old ammunition. Who is she? Who shot her? Why? Not long after her shooting, the dismembered body of a biker (member of a really ugly motorcycle gang) is found behind a waterfall at a provincial park. Is there a connection between the two events? Cardinal and The third John Cardinal novel is as good as the first two. It begins with quite a narrative hook: a young woman is brought in who has no memory of her life or identity. It soon becomes clear that she was shot in the head with a handgun using old ammunition. Who is she? Who shot her? Why? Not long after her shooting, the dismembered body of a biker (member of a really ugly motorcycle gang) is found behind a waterfall at a provincial park. Is there a connection between the two events? Cardinal and his partner, Lise Delorme, work on the case with their usual doggedness. As it happens, the connection rests in the young woman's past. The central set of bad guys are made up of three or four losers and one really charismatic leader. Hthe leader is a pretty scary character, especially given his exterior calm. The bicycle gang members are what you'd expect, though their leader is rendered as smarter than his followers. I guess that both groups share that dynamic. There are also some interesting minor characters along the way. Blunt introduces one of those characters--someone who knows where his stolen gun has gone and who lies to Cardinal and Delorme about it--as a quick and merciless sketch about ineffectiveness (not on the cops' parts). Blunt creates believable characters, even among the bad people in his books. There's a great piece of writing involving Cardinal and Delorme telling a woman that her loser son has been murdered, and another in which Cardinal tries to deal with his manic-depressive wife's latest manic episode while both are on the eighth floor of a construction site.. He is really very good.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michele Drier

    Someone in an onlne writers' group recommended Giles Blunt and I'm happy he did! John Cardinal is a multi-layered protagonist in the northern wilds of Ontario and Blunt makes the geography of this area come alive. Someone in an onlne writers' group recommended Giles Blunt and I'm happy he did! John Cardinal is a multi-layered protagonist in the northern wilds of Ontario and Blunt makes the geography of this area come alive.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    The third in Blunt's series and each one gets better. Really like his writing style and great characters. A real page turner. The third in Blunt's series and each one gets better. Really like his writing style and great characters. A real page turner.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hermien

    I love this series.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

    You ever love with a main character so much you just want to give them a huge hug? This is how I felt reading this book. John Cardinal is definitely a character. This book had a little bit of everything. Murder, mystery, love, addiction, mental illness, dark magic(which I’m not usually a fan of but it was okay in this book). The book starts out with a young woman wandering around town with a bullet in her head, like come on now?! This book was definitely a page turner. I will be going back and r You ever love with a main character so much you just want to give them a huge hug? This is how I felt reading this book. John Cardinal is definitely a character. This book had a little bit of everything. Murder, mystery, love, addiction, mental illness, dark magic(which I’m not usually a fan of but it was okay in this book). The book starts out with a young woman wandering around town with a bullet in her head, like come on now?! This book was definitely a page turner. I will be going back and reading the rest of the series. I had no clue this was the 3rd book!

  9. 5 out of 5

    miteypen

    I more than "liked" this book, but I "really like" the author and his writing. So this was a mostly enjoyable read for me. I always enjoy the descriptions of life in northern Ontario because my family has a cabin there and I can relate to what it's like there. One thing I'd heard about but not experienced is "blackfly season," and now I know I never want to experience it! We always avoid it when we go to our cabin (or cottage, as Canadians would call it). I wasn't crazy about how over-the-top the I more than "liked" this book, but I "really like" the author and his writing. So this was a mostly enjoyable read for me. I always enjoy the descriptions of life in northern Ontario because my family has a cabin there and I can relate to what it's like there. One thing I'd heard about but not experienced is "blackfly season," and now I know I never want to experience it! We always avoid it when we go to our cabin (or cottage, as Canadians would call it). I wasn't crazy about how over-the-top the main antagonist was, but I have to admit that he was different from the usual serial killers (if there is such a thing!). Pretty sick stuff actually, which normally doesn't bother me, but this was particularly gruesome. Not much changes in the characters of John Cardinal and Lise Delorme and John's wife, Catherine. Even John's relationship with his daughter is at a standstill. I see this as a "bridge" novel--it more or less sets the stage for the next novel in the series, which I read immediately after this one. (By the Time You Read This) As much as I enjoy this series, I wish the author would try his hand at some stand-alone novels or even nonfiction. I have a feeling he has a lot to say and would say it eloquently.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Hodge

    So I didn’t even know this was a series until just now looking at others reviews. This appears to be the third. Lol This was a surprisingly well written book! Never heard of him or this book, just grabbed it on a clearance day at second and Charles hoping it was as good as the back of the book made it sound! And it was! He sneaks you in to a huge plot with one character who cannot remember her name or where she is from and is covered in black fly bites. You think the book is going to be mostly ab So I didn’t even know this was a series until just now looking at others reviews. This appears to be the third. Lol This was a surprisingly well written book! Never heard of him or this book, just grabbed it on a clearance day at second and Charles hoping it was as good as the back of the book made it sound! And it was! He sneaks you in to a huge plot with one character who cannot remember her name or where she is from and is covered in black fly bites. You think the book is going to be mostly about this woman and finding whoever put the bullet in her head, and while it is about that she is not the main character. she is just used to introduce you to a much larger situation that includes, violent biker Gangs, Caribbean Voodoo, dealing with a wife with mental illness, ritual sacrifices (not overly graphic), and drug trafficking in Canada. Blunt stays a little longer, but not too long, on all the right situations, and quickly moves on from all the right situations. No over describing, never feeling like I didn’t get enough. I loved this book very much, needless to say I did not NEED the other two books before to enjoy this one!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vince

    Giles Blunt truly comes into his own with his third novel. His rich characterization of the setting and citizens of northern Ontario is top of form. Having dispensed with many cliched complications for hero John Cardinal, this book focuses less on advancing ground with his main characters and more on depicting the crime, its perpetrators and victims. Particularly noteworthy are his continued excellent depiction of mental illness and its impact on the victim's loved-ones, and his portrayal of her Giles Blunt truly comes into his own with his third novel. His rich characterization of the setting and citizens of northern Ontario is top of form. Having dispensed with many cliched complications for hero John Cardinal, this book focuses less on advancing ground with his main characters and more on depicting the crime, its perpetrators and victims. Particularly noteworthy are his continued excellent depiction of mental illness and its impact on the victim's loved-ones, and his portrayal of heroin addiction. Four stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Deb Jones

    This thriller/police procedural featuring small town Canadian police detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme begins with the appearance of an unknown young woman in a local bar. The bartender takes note as she moves from one table of people to another before coming up to the bar. When she speaks to the barkeep, it becomes apparent that something is off about her. "Off" turns out to be an understatement. The young woman, Jane Doe, doesn't know her name let alone where she is or where she's come This thriller/police procedural featuring small town Canadian police detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme begins with the appearance of an unknown young woman in a local bar. The bartender takes note as she moves from one table of people to another before coming up to the bar. When she speaks to the barkeep, it becomes apparent that something is off about her. "Off" turns out to be an understatement. The young woman, Jane Doe, doesn't know her name let alone where she is or where she's come from. A trip to the hospital's emergency room reveals the origin of her memory problems and heralds what becomes a most twisted and perplexing series of events. Cardinal and Delorme need all their skills and then some to first protect Jane Doe and then to unravel the murders that follow her appearance in town.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan Gottfried

    The opening of this blew me away. Such strong prose and interesting characters. Alas, though, the sections about Kevin and Red Bear dragged a bit and I had a hard time caring; the characters weren't nearly three-dimensional enough. But it was super to read a thriller that wasn't one of what feels like today's usual dysfunctional family and creepy, psychotic behavior. This was a fresh plot, an interesting premise, a cool setting. I may not continue with the series, but that's mostly because there The opening of this blew me away. Such strong prose and interesting characters. Alas, though, the sections about Kevin and Red Bear dragged a bit and I had a hard time caring; the characters weren't nearly three-dimensional enough. But it was super to read a thriller that wasn't one of what feels like today's usual dysfunctional family and creepy, psychotic behavior. This was a fresh plot, an interesting premise, a cool setting. I may not continue with the series, but that's mostly because there is simply too much out there to keep up with. But if Blunt crosses my radar again, I won't hesitate to grab.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    Exactly what I needed it to be. Neither mind-blowing nor mind-numbing. The perfect temperature and consistency for a porridge of Canadian Noire.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    PROTAGONIST: John Cardinal and Lise Delorme, homicide detectives SETTING: Ontario, Canada SERIES: #3 of 3 RATING: 4.75 Located far north in the province of Ontario, Algonquin Bay is normally a placid place of scenic splendor. However, there's one time of year that's a trial for every person that dares to go outside of their home, and that's "black fly season". The flies attack viciously, covering the victim in bites and bloody red marks. Most people don't voluntarily expose themselves at all during PROTAGONIST: John Cardinal and Lise Delorme, homicide detectives SETTING: Ontario, Canada SERIES: #3 of 3 RATING: 4.75 Located far north in the province of Ontario, Algonquin Bay is normally a placid place of scenic splendor. However, there's one time of year that's a trial for every person that dares to go outside of their home, and that's "black fly season". The flies attack viciously, covering the victim in bites and bloody red marks. Most people don't voluntarily expose themselves at all during this perilous time of year. So there's lots to wonder about when a beautiful young red-haired woman covered with fly bites enters the local tavern. She acts strangely, telling everyone how "nice" they are when they aren't nice at all. The first impression is that she is either high or mentally challenged. Neither is true—it turns out that she has a bullet lodged in her brain and is temporarily unable to recall who she is, why she is in Algonquin Bay and how she got shot. Someone wants her dead—but she has no idea who or why. The case is assigned to John Cardinal and his partner, Lise Delorme. They are only able to help "Red" when her memories start to return. But when that happens, she begins to cover up some of what she is remembering in order to protect her drug addict brother, Kevin. Kevin is involved in a drug running scheme which was created by a very charismatic newcomer to the area, Red Bear. Red Bear practices a form of shamanism called Palo Mayombe which is akin to Santeria and Voodoo, but more violent. It's more than black magic – it's noir magic. BLACK FLY SEASON is an engrossing tale on several fronts. The narrative thread winding around Red Bear and his machinations is very well developed. The hold he has on others is frightening. The actual rituals he practices when he feels it necessary to kill someone are disgusting and repellant. Then there's a forensics scene, which in most books of this type are overwhelmingly technical and force the reader to skim over the arcane scientific factoids. In a masterful stroke, Blunt has two scientists playing off of each other with the information being presented in a humorous interaction. The main enjoyment of the book for me was the characterization of John Cardinal. He's a fine detective; but more than that, he is a fine human being. His wife of many years, Catherine, is a manic depressive. Just as the professional aspect of his life is making tremendous demands on him, Catherine begins to enter a manic phase. That has always resulted in hospitalization in the past. Living with someone who has this disorder is extremely difficult; she blames John even as he struggles not to be over protective and trust her. Blunt's descriptive writing skills are exceptional. His descriptions of drug addiction and withdrawal are extremely realistic and tactile. The same is true of the setting—I felt like slapping flies a few times myself as the characters were out in the wild. Each character is meticulously delineated; the dialogue credible, and the story moves on at just the right pace. In fact, I only have one complaint about the book, and that is that Terri ("Red") does a few stupid things that smack of fem jep (female jeopardy). I didn't feel that was necessary in such an intelligent book. It was a pleasure to read a book that had so much heart in addition to being a first rate police procedural.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lukasz Pruski

    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 i 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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Wendell

    I was expecting a lot more after Forty Words for Sorrow, but with this novel Blunt moves a little closer to the paint-by-numbers “genre novel” and a little farther away from what would be a true innovation: the literary detective story. Blunt gets carried away here with plot elements that seriously strain credibility, and he replaces the psychological depth of Forty Words with splatter-film detailing that you can read in any of about 32,281 other serial-killer novels. There are also continuity e I was expecting a lot more after Forty Words for Sorrow, but with this novel Blunt moves a little closer to the paint-by-numbers “genre novel” and a little farther away from what would be a true innovation: the literary detective story. Blunt gets carried away here with plot elements that seriously strain credibility, and he replaces the psychological depth of Forty Words with splatter-film detailing that you can read in any of about 32,281 other serial-killer novels. There are also continuity errors that a decent editor should have fixed. As one example, ***SPOILERS FOLLOW*** a detective describes a body whose feet and hands have been amputated by saying words to the effect that "someone cut off his fingers and toes first." If the hands and feet are gone, there's no way for the police to know whether the toes and fingers were also removed separately. ***END SPOILERS*** I’m hopeful, finally, that not every future Cardinal novel will contain the “wife threatening a psychiatric relapse” subplot. It’s a lot less effective at humanizing Cardinal (I assume that’s the point) than Blunt may think. Blunt also misses an opportunity in Black Fly to do something less cardboard with the Lisa Delorme character, who every so often threatens to be more interesting than Cardinal, and there are about five too many scenes in which she and Cardinal basically grunt at each other while “deeply understanding” one another’s motivations and personalities (the way cops do) and “profoundly communicating” despite the fact that certain things Can Never Be Said and certain questions Must Never Be Raised (as true partners always know). The cliché, by now, is about as interesting as lint, and Blunt is capable of much better.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Mytnowych

    John Cardinal has to be one of my favourite detectives of any series. This is the third book in the series and probably my favourite on so far although I rated the other high as well. You can always count on a really good mystery with interesting characters while following the lives of John Cardinal and Lise Delorme. Can't wait to get my hands on the next one but hoping to save some for the summer. Would be a great cottage read because I would have time to read beginning to end in one sitting. H John Cardinal has to be one of my favourite detectives of any series. This is the third book in the series and probably my favourite on so far although I rated the other high as well. You can always count on a really good mystery with interesting characters while following the lives of John Cardinal and Lise Delorme. Can't wait to get my hands on the next one but hoping to save some for the summer. Would be a great cottage read because I would have time to read beginning to end in one sitting. Highly recommended!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Abbey

    This third police procedural in the Detective John Cardinal, Algonquin Bay, Canada, has a lot of potentially intriguing things going on at the same time, and a good semi-rural Canadian setting to recommend it. But the pacing is patchy, at times becoming almost incoherent as the reader tries to figure out just who is speaking, and where/when they are. It’s a major flaw in an otherwise strong mystery story about a nice guy policeman and one of his more interesting cases. A young stranger with a bul This third police procedural in the Detective John Cardinal, Algonquin Bay, Canada, has a lot of potentially intriguing things going on at the same time, and a good semi-rural Canadian setting to recommend it. But the pacing is patchy, at times becoming almost incoherent as the reader tries to figure out just who is speaking, and where/when they are. It’s a major flaw in an otherwise strong mystery story about a nice guy policeman and one of his more interesting cases. A young stranger with a bullet in her brain, dead bodies without heads and feet, dope-dealing motorcycle gangs, AND a personally conflicted policeman, create lots of potential tension. The sections dealing with John’s wife’s problems are some of the best-written in the book IMO, gut-wrenchingly powerful. Most of the rest of the book feels ordinary, a decent-to-good police procedural with all the usual bases covered - and then some. Lets see, we’ve got your crazed Cuban VooDoo-ish priest (passing himself off as a Native American called “Red Bear”), your dope-dealing motorcycle gang-bangers, a superior officer who “has it in for” Cardinal, John’s angst at his wife’s illness and his daughter’s unkindness, his own past mis-deeds, a loose-cannon serial-killer-wannabe who learns interesting new techniques when he meets up with Red Bear, and as the pivot for all this, a gorgeous young woman who’s connected to one of RB’s gang, a sweet nebbish who seemingly loves his high more than life itself. Her love for him and Cardinal’s love for his wife are the most authentic bits in the mix.

  20. 4 out of 5

    L

    Blunt gives us a mystery that includes a beautiful young woman with amnesia, organized drug trafficking, a biker gang, an esoteric religion that uses torture to gain power, dedicated police detectives, and the requisite dead bodies, with just a touch of mental illness added, mostly to flesh out a key character. Blunt has creatively and effectively used flies as a key organizing theme. Apparently this novel is based on a crime that actually happened, though who knows how close to the "facts" the Blunt gives us a mystery that includes a beautiful young woman with amnesia, organized drug trafficking, a biker gang, an esoteric religion that uses torture to gain power, dedicated police detectives, and the requisite dead bodies, with just a touch of mental illness added, mostly to flesh out a key character. Blunt has creatively and effectively used flies as a key organizing theme. Apparently this novel is based on a crime that actually happened, though who knows how close to the "facts" the fiction is? I believe that some time ago I read a different novel based on the same incident (or a similar one); this is much better. The characters are well drawn and most are sympathetic. While Blunt does have the beautiful redhead make some incredibly stupid moves, she has her reasons; it isn't about being a gullible or thoughtless woman. The plot is tight. The religion with its associated violence, really horror, is very troubling; I could have lived with much less graphic descriptions. A great read!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Richard Thompson

    Blunt is a new "find". Picked up THE FIELDS OF GRIEF at Book and Co. on the bargain table. Maggee read that one and really enjoyed it. We picked up two more, BLACKFLY SEASON and THE DELICATE STORM at the libary. I finished BLACKFLY SEASON last night and she finished THE DELICATE STORM a few minutes later. Now we will switch. This series features, John Cardinal, a police detective in a the small northern community of Algonquin Bay. He has a manic-depressive wife to whom he is devoted (but who make Blunt is a new "find". Picked up THE FIELDS OF GRIEF at Book and Co. on the bargain table. Maggee read that one and really enjoyed it. We picked up two more, BLACKFLY SEASON and THE DELICATE STORM at the libary. I finished BLACKFLY SEASON last night and she finished THE DELICATE STORM a few minutes later. Now we will switch. This series features, John Cardinal, a police detective in a the small northern community of Algonquin Bay. He has a manic-depressive wife to whom he is devoted (but who makes his life hell when she goes off her medication) and a grown daughter with whom he has a bit of rocky relationship. But mostly he is a conscientious, work-a-day cop and a nice guy. BLACKFLY SEASON opens with a beautiful young woman who has lot her memory and has stumbled into a local bar where she is pleasantly chatting with the patrons when another local police officer realizes that something is wrong with her. Only once she has been admitted to hospital do X-rays reveal that she has been shot in the head with a low caliber bullet. Good creepy bad-guy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This series continues very strong, although here the focus was mostly on Cardinal and less on his female partner, Lisa Delorme. Again, excellent, compelling suspense with Cardinal's bi-polar wife -- painful suspense with regard to her condition and safety. My only complaint (quibble, really) is my lack of comfort with his treatment of Palo Mayombe, an offshoot of Voodoo or similar African diaspora religion. I looked it up in Wikipedia and it seems like Blunt did some reasonable research into the This series continues very strong, although here the focus was mostly on Cardinal and less on his female partner, Lisa Delorme. Again, excellent, compelling suspense with Cardinal's bi-polar wife -- painful suspense with regard to her condition and safety. My only complaint (quibble, really) is my lack of comfort with his treatment of Palo Mayombe, an offshoot of Voodoo or similar African diaspora religion. I looked it up in Wikipedia and it seems like Blunt did some reasonable research into the religion -- at least it seemed to match what Blunt described. However, it seemed like the equivalent of describing Christianity as a "cannibalistic" religion; after all, Christian ritual includes eating the body & blood of the godhead. His descriptions seemed inflammatory. The horrible suspense around the practitioner (Red Bear) and his intended victims was excruciating. Another reviewer mentioned Blunt's excellent description of addiction and I have to agree -- well done! It was painfully spot-on. Very very good series. Moving right on to the next one.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Philhower

    I have happily moved into Giles Blunt's world, and with the rest of his books on order I may stay there for awhile. By now, I feel completely invested in John Cardinal's life - personal and professional - and there is enough at stake that I want to see the outcome. But, more than that, Blunt is a born storyteller with a gift for atmospheric description and the ability to carry the action through all the way to the end. "Black Fly Season" finds our cold weather characters enduring Spring, which i I have happily moved into Giles Blunt's world, and with the rest of his books on order I may stay there for awhile. By now, I feel completely invested in John Cardinal's life - personal and professional - and there is enough at stake that I want to see the outcome. But, more than that, Blunt is a born storyteller with a gift for atmospheric description and the ability to carry the action through all the way to the end. "Black Fly Season" finds our cold weather characters enduring Spring, which is, as you may have guessed, fraught with black flies. A small thing, but such a lovely detail, and I think this is part of this author's gift - to create so vividly a setting for his story to play out in. He begins here with the arrival of a stranger in town - a young girl with no memory, who, incredibly enough, has a bullet lodged in her brain. Fantastic hook, and the story just builds from there. Loved this and will keep reading!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark Lisac

    A nifty police thriller that makes a more enjoyable read than many in the genre. The plot and pacing are spot on. The setting, a barely fictionalized version of North Bay, Ontario, is appealing. Haven't read the others in the series so can't say how this one fits in or compares. There are several irritations: unreasonable coincidences that grow in number toward the end; an outrageously drawn main bad guy; conventional (almost de rigueur) complications in Detective John Cardinal's family life; bla A nifty police thriller that makes a more enjoyable read than many in the genre. The plot and pacing are spot on. The setting, a barely fictionalized version of North Bay, Ontario, is appealing. Haven't read the others in the series so can't say how this one fits in or compares. There are several irritations: unreasonable coincidences that grow in number toward the end; an outrageously drawn main bad guy; conventional (almost de rigueur) complications in Detective John Cardinal's family life; blatant lecturing about forensic techniques and the geography of North Bay; at least three moments that prompt something like the reaction common to tension-filled moments in many horror movies: "You idiot, don't go down into that basement." A number of these problems likely have something to do with Blunt's background as a script writer for TV dramas, as well as readers' expectations. I'll round it down. But it's polished enough to rate a solid 3.5 stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    This is the third in a series of police procedurals set in the fictional Algonquin Bay, Ontario (which has many things in common with the real city of North Bay). Local police officers John Cardinal and Lise Delorme are presented with a young woman who doesn't know who she is or where she is; upon examination she has a bullet wound to the head. Then, a hiker stumbles on a dismembered body. And all this is taking place during black fly season, which makes everyone irritable. There are the usual j This is the third in a series of police procedurals set in the fictional Algonquin Bay, Ontario (which has many things in common with the real city of North Bay). Local police officers John Cardinal and Lise Delorme are presented with a young woman who doesn't know who she is or where she is; upon examination she has a bullet wound to the head. Then, a hiker stumbles on a dismembered body. And all this is taking place during black fly season, which makes everyone irritable. There are the usual jurisdictional issues with the Provincial Police and the Mounties, and some scenes that are truly horrifying; plus, Cardinal's wife's bipolar illness flares up again. I'm fond of police procedurals in any case, and this series is excellent, very Canadian (most people are fundamentally decent, except for a few who aren't at all). Setting, characters and plot are all very good.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This is the third John Cardinal story I've read so far. None of them have let me down and this one in particular was excellent. It was a bit grittier than the others, nicely suspenseful and well-paced. I enjoy the main characters, John Cardinal is an interesting protagonist, a good cop, with personal issues as well. Lise Delorm, his partner, is also one I want to be developed more in future stories. The surrounding characters add to the plot and keep the story moving nicely. I especially like th This is the third John Cardinal story I've read so far. None of them have let me down and this one in particular was excellent. It was a bit grittier than the others, nicely suspenseful and well-paced. I enjoy the main characters, John Cardinal is an interesting protagonist, a good cop, with personal issues as well. Lise Delorm, his partner, is also one I want to be developed more in future stories. The surrounding characters add to the plot and keep the story moving nicely. I especially like that the stories are set in my home town of North Bay, even if he has named it Algonquin Bay in his stories. It's great recognizing the area and locales. The title of this one rings very true; Blackfly Season is well-remembered from my time there and not at all missed. Excellent story and excellent series.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shane

    After finding this book in a community book share library I thought I would give it a try. To be honest I found the thriller aspect of this book was really quite good. But I felt that the underlining depiction of immigrants and Indigenous peoples drowned out the thrill. Blunt depicts these folks as harbouring some alter corrupt motive (i.e. drug dealing to "get ahead"), which perpetuates the stereotypes that exist. It makes me question how much 'actual' research Blunt carried out. Sure one of the After finding this book in a community book share library I thought I would give it a try. To be honest I found the thriller aspect of this book was really quite good. But I felt that the underlining depiction of immigrants and Indigenous peoples drowned out the thrill. Blunt depicts these folks as harbouring some alter corrupt motive (i.e. drug dealing to "get ahead"), which perpetuates the stereotypes that exist. It makes me question how much 'actual' research Blunt carried out. Sure one of the police officers was First Nations, but Blunt made a point that this individual state that he really wasn't "all that connected". Sorry if this is harsh but we really need to be careful how we depict people that are already super marginalized.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marjie Smith

    Spoiler alert When a young woman shows up in Algonquin Bay suffering from apparent amnesia and blackfly bites, suspicions of something not quite right prove to be correct. She has been shot, but due to the age of the gun used, the bullet didn’t explode. As she recovers and her memory returns, the police who are trying to protect her discover that she is not working fully with them and wonder what she has to hide. An action thriller, there is a dark side to this novel beyond the murders as it delv Spoiler alert When a young woman shows up in Algonquin Bay suffering from apparent amnesia and blackfly bites, suspicions of something not quite right prove to be correct. She has been shot, but due to the age of the gun used, the bullet didn’t explode. As she recovers and her memory returns, the police who are trying to protect her discover that she is not working fully with them and wonder what she has to hide. An action thriller, there is a dark side to this novel beyond the murders as it delves into occult behavior in the hands of a psychopath. Giles’ books are always page turners, leading to a race between police and the killers. This is no exception.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Buried In Print

    This review was deleted following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads. The review can still be viewed via LibraryThing, where my profile can be found here. I'm also in the process of building a database at Booklikes, where I can be found here. If you read/liked/clicked through to see this review here on GR, many thanks. This review was deleted following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads. The review can still be viewed via LibraryThing, where my profile can be found here. I'm also in the process of building a database at Booklikes, where I can be found here. If you read/liked/clicked through to see this review here on GR, many thanks.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John Mills

    A tight plot, well developed chracters and fast pace made for a read that kept me reading long past my bed time. Blunt made me relive time spent in N. Ontario during blackfly season. He not only brings the characters alive but gives a true feel for where it is happening. If you enjoy crime novels, you will love the Cardinal series. As a bonus, you will also get the benefit of reading a novel that is literature.

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