A woman with a bullet in her brain can’t remember who she is or who put it there.
The black flies are swarming and biting, making everyone in Ontario’s tiny Algonquin Bay miserable—except for the redhead who’s lost all memory and affect since someone shot her. Homicide detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme have Red sequestered, a guard at her door, while they try to figure out who wanted her dead. Their inquiries lead to the Viking Raiders, a group of bikers into local drug distribution until a rival group usurps them, dismembering Wombat Guthrie along the way. The next to be disarticulated is Toof, who unwisely bragged about his mates’ big plans before he met a death marked by the sadism of the Palo Mayombe, a Cuban sect into human sacrifice. Her memory returned, Red decamps, desperate to contact her brother, a heroin addict; Cardinal’s depressive wife Catherine again needs hospitalization; a member of the RCMP is on the take; and the deadly Red Bear and his acolyte Leon have plans that involve hatchets, knives and vats of boiling blood. Clearly Algonquin Bay and its citizenry are under siege, not the least by vicious black flies.
If the macabre plot, based on a true-crime episode, seems more rote than its predecessors (The Delicate Storm, 2003, etc.), Blunt redeems himself with his searing portrait of a cop unable to prevent his wife’s self-destruction.