For a blog that was supposed to be about crime fiction, the subject hasn’t come up much lately. If you’re one of my eight or so regular readers, it must seem that all I do these days is cruise the news sites in search of current events to be snide or self-righteous about. As it turns out, that’s pretty accurate. I’m in one of those phases where I think I may stop doing this.
But my brother Mike recently visited, and as always brought with him a stack of crime novels. I’ve been been going through them one by one. So far, the standout of the lot is the Canadian writer Giles Blunt. Naturally, I’d never heard of him. Now I’ve read two of his books: Black Fly Season and Forty Words for Sorrow. They both involve a Canadian detective plying his trade in northern Ontario, where the cold is as strong a character as any of the people.
The thing about crime fiction: It must adhere to certain unspoken conventions of the genre, at the same time giving the reader something different enough to distinguish the book from its thousands of brethren. Blunt’s protagonist, John Cardinal, is a lot like other fictional detectives: Terse, driven, a marriage on shaky ground, a bit of sexual tension with a coworker. But his setting, the frigid town of Algonquin Bay, drives the characters in memorable and believable ways. Sitting here in Florida, where it’s predicted to hit 90 later in the week, I like reading about Canadian cold places. I see Giles Blunt has at least three other books in this series; maybe I’ll save the rest for summer. That’s when I’ll need them the most.