Summary and book reviews of Forty Words For Sorrow by Giles Blunt

Forty Words For Sorrow

By Giles Blunt

Forty Words For Sorrow
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  • Hardcover: Jun 2001,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2002,
    368 pages.

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Book Summary

When the badly decomposed body of thirteen-year-old Katie Pine is found in an abandoned mine shaft, John Cardinal is vindicated. It was Cardinal who'd kept the Pine case open--insisting she was no mere runaway--and Cardinal who'd been demoted to the burglary squad for his excessive zeal. But Katie Pine isn't the only youngster to have gone missing in the rural town of Algonquin Bay, and Cardinal is now given the go-ahead to reopen the files on three other lost kids. When another youth is reported missing, he begins to see a pattern that screams "serial killer."

Meanwhile, the brass have partnered him with Lisa Delorme, newly shifted to homicide from the Office of Special Investigations, and Cardinal can't help but wonder if she's been sent to keep tabs on him. A guilty conscience makes him think so.

Superbly paced, with fully fleshed characters and utterly convincing police detail, Forty Words for Sorrow is also a novel of place that transcends genre. Blunt puts us in a small Canadian town in the dead of winter and makes us feel the cold, then turns the cold into a metaphor for the destruction of young lives.

Chapter 1

It gets dark early in Algonquin Bay. Take a drive up Airport Hill at four o'clock on a February afternoon, and when you come back half an hour later the streets of the city will glitter below you in the dark like so many runways. The forty-sixth parallel may not be all that far north; you can be much farther north and still be in the United States, and even London, England, is a few degrees closer to the North Pole. But this is Ontario, Canada, we're talking about, and Algonquin Bay in February is the very definition of winter: Algonquin Bay is snowbound, Algonquin Bay is quiet, Algonquin Bay is very, very cold.

John Cardinal was driving home from the airport where he had just watched his daughter, Kelly, board a plane bound for the United States by way of Toronto. The car still smelled of her--or at least of the scent that had lately become her trademark: Rhapsody or Ecstasy or some such. To Cardinal, wife gone and now daughter gone, it smelled of loneliness. ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Toronto Globe and Mail - Margaret Cannon

Blunt has done for Canada's north what James Lee Burke did for Cajun Louisiana.

Bookpage

[H]e populates his novel with vivid and complex characters....And, as far as villains go, they don't come much more evil than this.

Harper's Baazar

Blunt's chilly, gruesome tale gets into the fascinating minutiae of police work without ever losing its grasp on the human element.

Kirkus Reviews

Polished, at times poetic but more frequently horrific, and especially moving in dealing with Cardinal's wife Catherine, hospitalized for depression. Former TV writer Blunt (Cold Eye, not reviewed) is a helluva storyteller, and his John Cardinal probably has a long career ahead of him.

Booklist

Blunt's handling of procedure...is masterful....A completely absorbing series debut...

Author Blurb Tony Hillerman
I wish I had written Forty Words for Sorrow...If you miss it you'll miss one of best novels of 2001.

Author Blurb Lee Child
Intensely vivid characters, terrible crimes, and a brutal deep-frozen landscape all prove beyond a reasonable doubt....

Reader Reviews
lu-anna

i thought this was an awsome book! amazing from start to finish. the fact that youre not only in one person's view, but others aswell, makes it unique, and a great read. if i could, i would give it a 6/5

peiper

Since I have no knowledge of like crimes done in England and Canada the book wasn't spoiled for me.
It was a chilling read altho as someone pointed out already, somewhat repetitive in places.
While I agree with others who liked the book overall and ...   Read More

Aideen

I was very dissappointed in this story. It was predictable and not at all what was promised by the reviews on the cover. The writing style and characters were repetitive rather than developing. The story seemed to be based on a mixture of two real...   Read More

Mary

We read Forty Words for Sorrow in a mystery readering group. Lately, our choices have been so-so at best, but this book was completely engrossing. The writing is vivid and free of the usual clutter and bumbling that distract the mind from a story. ...   Read More

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