John Cardinal and Lise Delorme, detectives working for the (fictional) Algonquin Bay police department, pursue separate investigations in By the Time You Read This, the fourth mystery in this series by Giles Blunt.
Cardinal's case is personal. His wife, Catherine, who has been treated for depression for years, is found dead one night at the base of an apartment building, apparently the result of a suicide. He refuses to believe she could have taken her own life, and though the department never opens a case of suspicious death, Cardinal undertakes a private investigation using police resources to determine the truth.
Meanwhile, Delorme has been assigned a case of child pornography involving a young girl spanning several years. Evidence suggests Algonquin Bay as being the source of the pictures, but little more is known. Cardinal and Delorme eventually team up to track down the pornographer and in the process uncover the reality behind Catherine's suicide.
By the Time You Read This is an exceptionally well-written, deftly plotted novel, but should not be read as a mystery per se. It is, in many ways, a police procedural in which the reader is aware of facts not yet known to the investigators. Though the psychological and physical crimes are horrific, Blunt manages to derive much of the suspense in the story from how Cardinal and Delorme will piece together the puzzle. That their cases are linked is never in doubt (to the reader); how they are connected remains a mystery until the exciting conclusion.
Blunt's character development is so well done that it's difficult not to empathize with Cardinal's loss, feel his emptiness at home, experience the void in his life. And it's equally difficult not to share Delorme's disgust with her pornography case, her rage at the loss of a child's innocence, her determination to find the man responsible. That the reader is drawn so completely into the story and its characters is just one measure of how splendidly it is written.
By the Time You Read This is a superior novel of suspense and is highly recommended.Powered by Sidelines