During the third week of January, the town of Algonquin Bay in Ontario experiences a freak warm front. There is a thick fog blanketing the area pushing up the temperature and bears are coming out of hibernation. When a mechanic discovers a mauled arm in the snow, the first assumption is that someone has fallen victim to a very hungry bear.
For someone from a climate as mild as Australia, the cold of a Canadian winter seems somewhat exotic. Salting the roads, ice storms, bears coming out of hibernation when there’s a warm snap, are all vividly depicted. Giles Blunt imparts a strong feeling of being connected to the community by the clever use of minor characters: there is WUDKY, the world's dumbest criminal; the veteran police officer returning from vacation and remembering a detail from an old case which helps create a lead in a current one and Cardinal's tetchy and fiercely independent father are just a few. Cardinal and Delorme with their different ethnic backgrounds, attitudes and histories also give THE DELICATE STORM a strong and distinctive Canadian flavour.
Blunt has created a mystery with a number of intriguing threads and combined it with interesting characters who pull you into the story and hold you there.
Giles Blunt grew up in Ontario. THE DELICATE STORM is the second of four books in the John Cardinal series. Blunt’s website is http://www.gilesblunt.com/
THE KILLING HOUR - Paul Cleave
From the Book: They come for me as I sleep. Their pale faces stare at me, their soft voices tell me to wake, to wake. They come to remind me of the night, to remind me of what I have done.
THE KILLING HOUR is Cleave's second book - a totally new direction from THE CLEANER, his first book released (at least in Australia) last year.
And what a direction it takes. Our "hero" Charlie doesn't know what he's done. His clothes are covered in blood, there is a bump on his forehead and there are news reports that two women have been brutally murdered. Charlie knows that Cyris killed them, but nobody else knows that Cyris exists and, let's face it, Charlie's not really sure he does either. He can't think straight as long as the two victims come back to talk to him. He can't think straight as long as the sinister, weird, obsessed Cyris is pursuing him. He can't think straight so he kidnaps his own ex-wife. Charlie really hopes that Jo believes he didn't kill those woman, but dragging her around the countryside, bound and gagged, isn't exactly the best way to win her trust. Meanwhile DI Landry is quite convinced that Charlie is his killer and he's not too fussed about whether he's got enough evidence to charge him or not. He's dying anyway - he's got few months left and he's not about to stuff around when it comes to resolving unfinished business.
THE KILLING HOUR has this marvellous, intimidating, disconcerting sense of weird, creepy, increasing tension. Sure the visions that Charlie has of the victims of the murders have a certain "woo woo" element to them, but it really doesn't matter so much. The sense that you're almost in this story with Charlie - the confusion over whether you're backtracking through the victim's lives; whether the victims are talking to Charlie; whatever is going on with Cyris and Landry - you're just gripped by this creepy, frankly scary, tension. The panic that rises in Charlie and Jo as the book screeches towards it's conclusion infects you, the reader - you're panicked - it's too late to be awake but you're not going to be turning off any lights soon - and besides that you've got to finish this book. And you're left with one question - who is this Paul Cleave and why is he trying to frighten me half to death!
The author's website (http://www.paulcleave.co.nz/) says that his third novel - Cemetery Lake is due for release in 2008. THE CLEANER had me queuing for THE KILLING HOUR. Form an orderly line to the left when CEMETERY LAKE appears.
THE CLEANER - Paul Cleave
Meet Joe. He's a nice guy out to catch a copycat killer. The one copying himself.
Suprising and compelling, this powerfully written novel is a terrifyingly vivid insight into the mind of a serial killer. Joe is in control of everything in his simple life, including both his day job at the police department and his 'night work'. He remembers to feed his fish twice a day and visit his mother at least once a week, although he occasionally peppers her coffee with rat poison.
The Cleaner is Christchurch, New Zealand based Paul Cleave's debut novel. Set in Christchurch where at one point Joe, the central character, muses that the biggest crime in Christchurch City - apart from the fashion and the Old English Architecture, glue-sniffing, too much greenery, bad driving, bad parking, lack of parking, wandering pedestrians, expensive shops, the winter smog, the summer smog, kids riding skateboards on footpaths, kids riding bikes on footpaths, old guys yelling Bible passages at anybody passing by, stupid policemen, stupid laws, too many drunks, too few shops, barking dogs, loud music, puddles of vomit in the gutters and the grey decor, among several other things - is burglary. And, thanks mainly to Joe - serial killings.
Joe works as a cleaner for the Christchurch Police. They think he's mentally handicapped - a bit slow. Joe knows he's not and he knows fully well that he's actually a very intelligent, busy, serial killer. He also knows that of the 7 murders they currently have chalked up to the Christchurch Carver - one of them wasn't him. And he's just ever so slightly miffed by this.
Early on in this book, I'll be perfectly honest, I was thinking that the world could really do without another self-impressed, self-involved, self-narrating serial killer and about the time I was ready to throw this out the nearest window, bang, Cleave suddenly turned THE CLEANER on its head and Joe finds himself in a very very strange place. From then on the book takes you on a bit of a wild ride whilst Joe ramps up the killing spree, and tries to find the perpetrator of the one murder that he didn't do. Professional Pride? More likely a handy scapegoat.
Although set within the Police Station, this is not a police procedural, so there is little concentration on the actual investigation, with most of the Police investigators taking a very low profile. Aside from the police, there are some unusual and well fleshed supporting characters. All in all, a very promising debut book with some good twists and turns.