In the quiet Canadian town of Algonquin Bay, a frozen body has been found in an abandoned mine shaft. She is quickly identified as Katie Pine, a teenager who had disappeared months ago. At the time, Detective John Cardinal insisted that Katie was no ordinary runaway. His relentless pursuit and refusal to give up on the case got him demoted from Homicide. But now the Canadian police force wants Cardinal back on the case -- with a new associate by his side. And as these two untrusting partners gather evidence of a serial murder spree, a pair of sociopaths are closing in on their next victim...There are two quotes on the front cover: "One of the finest crime novels I've ever read." (Jonathan Kellerman) and "The most horrifying story since The Silence of the Lambs" (Los Angeles Time). Both of these quotes are true (in my opinion) and they illustrate my problems with the novel. It was a compelling read but I often wanted to put it down and give up on it, due to the explicit nature of the descriptions of the crimes.
All the characters were well-defined, not just the main characters. A lot of police procedurals is visiting people for interviews, and all of those people seemed real, with their own problems and lives.
I enjoyed the setting. I read this book for the Canadian Book Challenge 6. The book is set in a small community in northern Canada. The author was raised in a similar town. Per the Wikipedia article about the author:
Blunt grew up in North Bay, and Algonquin Bay is North Bay very thinly disguised — for example, Blunt retains the names of major streets and the two lakes (Trout Lake and Lake Nipissing) that the town sits between, the physical layout of the two places is the same, and he describes Algonquin Bay as being in the same geographical location as North Bay.Dislikes:
For me, this book was much too graphic. The story is the hunt for a serial killer, and the descriptions of the crimes went into too much detail for my taste. There was one section on torture devices that I had to skip over.
Here we have another policeman with angst and family issues. The portrait of John Cardinal is so good that I really did not mind. He is not really damaged, he just has made mistakes and has a lot on his mind. I actually sympathized with his family issues, and felt they made the story stronger.
I have read criticisms that this is not really a whodunnit but a "whydunnit". To a certain extent this is true, although for at least the first third of the book we do not know the identity of the culprit. However, I like whydunnit style of mystery, so that worked fine for me.
I found this to be a very well-written novel with interesting characters, and I enjoyed most aspects of the book. I recommend it to any reader who likes serial killer thrillers and doesn't mind the graphic violence. And even if you don't usually go for that kind of book, I would give it a try. This book won the Silver Dagger awarded by the Crime Writers Association in 2001.