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Forty Words for Sorrow

by Giles Blunt

Library Journal : In recent years, our literary neighbors to the north have produced a wide array of fine fiction. Now comes Canadian Blunt's intelligent second novel (after Cold Eye). Set in the dead of winter in the small northern Ontario town of Algonquin Bay, it opens with the discovery in an abandoned mineshaft of the badly decomposed body of Katie Pine, a 13-year-old Chippewa girl who had disappeared several months before. Detective John Cardinal, demoted for insisting that Katie had not run away, is reinstated to work on the reopened case. In studying reports of other missing children, he begins to find a pattern that hints at a serial killer or killers. At the same time, Cardinal's new partner, French Canadian Lise Delorme, is secretly investigating him for possibly taking bribes from a drug runner. While an exciting crime story, the book is also a novel of place (the chilly isolation of a rural community is vividly portrayed) and a meditation on sorrow for the murdered children, for the emotionally damaged killers, and for Carpenter's mentally ill wife. "Eskimos, it is said, have forty different words for snow. Never mind about snow, Cardinal mused, what people really need is forty words for sorrow. Grief. Heartbreak. Desolation. There were not enough ." The only false note is a scene involving a librarian (no surprise there). Still, this is strongly recommended for patrons who want some substance in their mysteries. Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : This brooding tale of a search for a serial killer in rural Ontario takes its title from the often-quoted fact that Eskimos have 40 words for snow. "What people really need is forty words for sorrow," thinks Det. John Cardinal, whose glum outlook aptly mirrors the mood of Blunt's atmospheric thriller. The story begins when the frozen body of 13-year-old Chippewa Katie Pine is discovered on one of the Manitou Islands near Algonquin Bay, Ontario. Cardinal, whose obsessive search for the missing girl when she first disappeared six months earlier got him kicked off the case, ends up back in the good graces of his superiors. Or so he thinks. But his new partner, Lisa Delorme, fresh from the Office of Special Investigations (think Internal Affairs), has been paired with Cardinal so she can covertly investigate him at the same time. Dogging Cardinal's record is his connection with drug dealer Kyle Corbett. Each time the police tried to bust Corbett, he was warned by someone on the inside; Cardinal, who is burdened with a guilty secret and a wife who's in and out of mental institutions, is the prime suspect. Focusing initially on Cardinal, Blunt (author of the praised Cold Eye) opens up the plot by chronicling what happens to the next potential victim of what the newspapers are calling the Windigo Killer. While the plot is formulaic (combining both a least-likely-suspect twist and a you-may-think-it's-over-but-it's-not finale), the plangent atmosphere gradually and effectively permeates the reader's consciousness. The characters achieve dimension slowly, like figures in a developing Polaroid, and then become vivid. Sorrow is palpable, and readers making their way through the book will feel like they're walking hunched over against a steady, chilling wind but the final destination, like Cardinal's final redemption, is well earned and well worth the trip. Agent, Helen Heller. (June 25)Forecast: Glowing advance praise from the likes of Jonathan Kellerman, Tony Hillerman and Lee Child augurs well for this deserving, intelligent thriller.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms