Canada’s tiny, frigid Algonquin Bay, home to more bears than people, is relatively quiet during an unexpected winter thaw until two bodies are found in the woods within a three-day span. One, which may belong to a visiting American accountant, has been chomped on by bears. The other, bearing signs of rape, is identified as nice Dr. Winter Cates, who recently treated Det. John Cardinal’s dad for a heart condition. While Cardinal, working the bear case, bumps into territorial disputes with the RCMP, lies and obstruction from the CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service), and hints of FBI encroachment, Det. Lise Delorme focuses on Cates’s demise. Before they become convinced they are seeking the same perp, they must eliminate a trapper and a mobster from their suspect list and reexamine a 30-year-old murder chalked up to members of a terrorist cell seeking separatism for Quebec—and especially to the long-missing Yves Grenelle. There’ll be links to Quebec city and New York, but the downbeat resolution, which follows Cardinal’s dressing-down for prematurely arresting a local nabob, occurs right in Algonquin Bay, during a political fundraiser managed by Paul Laroche, a real-estate mogul with high-powered connections. This time out, author Blunt, who’s already trained his microscope on Cardinal’s feelings for his wife, a hospitalized depressive (Forty Words for Sorrow, 2001), turns to his relations with his father, with telling sidelights on Canadian politics and prejudices.
Beneath the unfortunate mishmash of coincidences is a humdinger of a plot.