Forty Words for Sorrow (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery #1) by Giles Blunt
This post may contain spoilers.
This was brilliant! I have recently finished the TV series and was a little apprehensive about reading the books so soon but if anything it enhanced the books. The story was virtually unchanged for the TV production and going by the books was excellently cast. The only real change I noticed was that the senior officer was male in the book and female in the TV show as well as the reason Cardinal was under suspicion by senior officers.
The basis of the story is that John Cardinal has been demoted within the department for irrational focus on the case of a missing child, claiming that it was related to another written off as a runaway and that they were both the work of a serial killer. A body is discovered which appears to be the missing girl and Cardinal is brought back into the fold.
In the background Delorme is brought into the homicide department and partnered with Cardinal with an additional task of investigating him for supplying information to the head of a serious crime organisation. The two of them work together to identify and apprehend the psycho couple kidnapping and torturing victims.
This is one of the best detective stories I’ve read for a long time. The quality of the writing is superb and the characters are hugely interesting. I’m sure it was enhanced by the TV show but I could feel myself immersed completely in the situations being described and able to picture them clearly. The descriptions of the landscape and weather of a Canadian winter were so detailed. It was fab.
Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist for both North Carolina and Quebec, has come from Charlotte to Montreal during the bleak days of December to testify as an expert witness at a murder trial.
She should be going over her notes, but instead she’s digging in the basement of a pizza parlor. Not fun. Freezing cold. Crawling rats. And now, the skeletonized remains of three young women. How did they get there? When did they die?
Homicide detective Luc Claudel, never Tempe’s greatest fan, believes the bones are historic. Not his case, not his concern. The pizza parlor owner found nineteenth-century buttons in the cellar with the skeletons. Claudel takes them as an indicator of the bones’ antiquity.
But something doesn’t make sense. Tempe examines the bones in her lab and establishes approximate age with Carbon-14. Further study of tooth enamel tells her where the women were born. If she’s right, Claudel has three recent murders on his hands. Definitely his case.
Detective Andrew Ryan, meanwhile, is acting mysteriously. What are those private phone calls he takes in the other room, and why does he suddenly disappear just when Tempe is beginning to hope he might be a permanent part of her life? Looks like more lonely nights for Tempe and Birdie, her cat.
As Tempe searches for answers in both her personal and professional lives, she finds herself drawn deep into a web of evil from which there may be no escape. Women have disappeared, never to return…Tempe may be next.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Fast paced, easy to read and just complicated enough to keep the reader interested without getting lost. My only complaints were how silly and immature Anne’s character was portrayed (I couldn’t see how she fitted with the overall story and her behaviour was just irritating) and Tempe’s relationship with Ryan. This latter was at least resolved and I hope it’s less angsty and distracting in the rest of the series.
I did find the ending very good and left me with a mixture of feelings which is good writing. I especially liked the final dedication and the author’s note for the real life inspiration behind the story.
A 600-mile canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness is a 17-year-old’s dream adventure, but after he is mauled by a grizzly bear, it’s all about staying alive.
This true-life wilderness survival epic recounts 17-year-old Alex Messenger’s near-lethal encounter with a grizzly bear during a canoe trip in the Canadian tundra. The story follows Alex and his five companions as they paddle north through harrowing rapids and stunning terrain. Twenty-nine days into the trip, while out hiking alone, Alex is attacked by a barren-ground grizzly. Left for dead, he wakes to find that his summer adventure has become a struggle to stay alive. Over the next hours and days, Alex and his companions tend his wounds and use their resilience, ingenuity, and dogged perseverance to reach help at a remote village a thousand miles north of the US-Canadian border.
The Twenty-Ninth Day is a coming-of-age story like no other, filled with inspiring subarctic landscapes, thrilling riverine paddling, and a trial by fire of the human spirit.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
A fascinating story of a once in a lifetime adventure that goes incredibly wrong. The story provides background to the trip and builds up through the journey until the bear attack and then follows the aftermath and his fight to reach safety, supported by his friends.
With stories like this I’m always amazed by the detail of recall. He creates a vivid picture of the Tundra wilderness and what it is like to explore there and the challenges they faced travelling by canoe. However, the detailed recall of the bear attack was astounding considering how quickly it all must have happened and the shock he experienced afterwards. It did make me wonder if it was embellished a bit but I’m taking it at face value.
The remoteness of their location and the actual wilderness of the area they were travelling through was really brought home in the immediate period after the attack. These teenage boys showed remarkable courage and perseverance to support and care for their injured friend and get him to safety.
Where the audiobook falls down is the narration. The author chose to narrate his own story and it’s a good example why it’s a good idea to employ a professional reader. He has a strong, pleasant voice but reads in a flat monotone with no variation for emotion. The story would have been so much more gripping if read in a way that reflected the experiences being described. However, it’s still very much worth a listen.
Her life is devoted to justice; for those she never even knew. In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Temperance detects an alarming pattern and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her, her best friend and her own daughter, in mortal danger…
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
This was a good book but I found it hard to get into. Nothing much seemed to be happening for the first half/two thirds of the story but it did definitely pick up towards the finish. The story skips around quite a bit which makes it a difficult one to read in small chunks and the style also doesn’t lend itself to reading one chapter at a time. The introduction of a lot of unfamiliar Canadian police and political organisations and acronyms compounded this.
My other issue was the unavoidable comparisons to Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. I had read a few of this Temperance Brennan series a number of years ago and found them quite good and when I went back looking for them found Kay Scarpetta instead. That was unfortunate as Temperance Brennan is a much better series as far as I remember.
Temperance is also a much better character and despite some annoying personality characteristics is very likeable. Then there is the permanently pissed off and dismissive Claudel and the smoldering relationship with Ryan. The development of the murderer and the building of the case against him is well done.
I’m expecting to enjoy the rest of the series and possibly consign Kay Scarpetta to the bin once and for all.