Excerpt from By the Time You Read This by Giles Blunt, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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By the Time You Read This

A Novel

By Giles Blunt

By the Time You Read This
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2007,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2008,
    352 pages.

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“She’s still having the affair with Reg Wilcox?”

“Yeah. In fact she was seen last night with our esteemed director of sanitation. Szelagy’s on a stakeout at the Birches Motel, keeping an eye on the Porcini brothers. They got out of Kingston six months ago and seem to have the idea they can actually get back into business up here. Anyways, Szelagy’s reporting back and happens to mention he sees Feckworth’s wife coming out of Room Twelve with Reggie Wilcox. I was never keen on the jerk myself. I don’t know what women see in him.”

“He’s a good-looking guy.”

“Oh, come on. He looks like one of those Sears guys modeling the suits.” By way of imitation, McLeod gave him a three-quarter profile with a fake-hearty grin.

“Some people consider that handsome,” Cardinal said. “Though not on you.”

“Well, some people can kiss my—anyway, I told His Worship last night, I said, ‘Look, your wife is not missing. She’s an adult. She’s been seen downtown. If she’s not coming home, that’s apparently her choice at this particular moment in time.’”

“What’d he say to that?”

“‘Who saw her? Where? What time?’ Same questions anybody’d ask. I told him I wasn’t at liberty to say. She’d been seen in the vicinity of Worth and MacIntosh, so we could not file a missing-person report. She’s at the Birches again tonight with Wilcox. I told Feckworth to come on down, you’d be happy to talk to him.”

“What the hell did you do that for?”

“He’ll take it better from you. Him and me don’t get along so good.”

“You don’t get along with anyone so good.”

“Now, that’s just hurtful.”


While he was waiting for the mayor to arrive, Cardinal made out an expense report for the previous month and wrote up the top sheet on a case he had just closed. He found his thoughts wandering to Catherine. She had been doing well for the past year and was back teaching at the community college this semester. But she had seemed a little distant at dinner, a little impatient, in a way that might indicate some preoccupation other than her photographic project. Catherine was in her late forties and going through menopause, which played havoc with her moods and necessitated constant tweaking of her medication. If she seemed a little distant—well, there was no shortage of plausible reasons. On the other hand, how well do we really know the people we love? Just look at the mayor.

When the mayor, Lance Feckworth, arrived, Cardinal took him to one of the interview rooms so they could talk in private.

“I want to get to the bottom of this,” the mayor told him. “A full investigation.” Feckworth was a lumpy little man, much given to bow ties, and was perched uncomfortably on the edge of a plastic seat that was usually occupied by suspects. “I know I’m mayor, and that doesn’t give me the right to more attention than any other voter, but I don’t expect less, either. What if she’s had an accident of some kind?”

Feckworth was not much of a mayor. During his tenure, all the city council seemed to do was study problems endlessly and agree to let them drift. But he was usually an affable man, ready with a joke or a slap on the back. It was unsettling to see him in pain, as if a building one had grown used to over the years had suddenly been painted a garish color.

As gently as possible, Cardinal pointed out that Mrs. Feckworth had been seen in town the previous night and there had been no major accidents that week.

Excerpted from By the Time You Read This by Giles Blunt. Copyright © 2007 by Giles Blunt. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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