Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Forty Words for Sorrow (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery, #1)” as Want to Read:
Forty Words for Sorrow (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Forty Words for Sorrow (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery #1)

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  2,272 Ratings  ·  229 Reviews
The first in a series of spine-chilling thrillers featuring Detective John Cardinal and enjoying international raves!

When four teenagers go missing in the small northern town of Algonquin Bay, the extensive police investigation comes up empty. Everyone is ready to give up except Detective John Cardinal, an all-too-human loner whose persistence only serves to get him remove
Mass Market Paperback, 388 pages
Published June 11th 2002 by Seal Books (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Forty Words for Sorrow, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Forty Words for Sorrow

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 25, 2016 Phrynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I accidentally read book 3 in this series first and it was so good I just had to go back to the start and read book 1.
I really enjoy the setting of this series in Canada and I like the frequent references to topics like the Mounties, the French/Canadian divide and the situation regarding the native Indian population. The main characters are good to, slightly flawed but interesting people just like in real life.
Combine all this with a cracking good story, a spot of internal intrigue and some good
Robert Beveridge
Giles Blunt, Forty Words for Sorrow (Berkeley, 2001)

Giles Blunt first came to the attention of critics everywhere as a staff writer for Law and Order, one of the strongest television series in history. And when reading Blunt's first novel, the reader who is a Law and Order fan is likely to know, even without knowing Blunt's allegiance to the show, that there are similarities. Needless to say, for the Law and Order fan, this means you've pretty much got a free pass on this one; you're going to lo
Jan 13, 2017 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent introduction to a series set in fictionalized North Bay, ON. The setting was a character all by itself. The city cops are interesting and complex. Their interactions with the Mounties and Provincial law enforcement was a timely lesson since I recently researched Canadian immigration. BUT.....(view spoiler)
Richard Derus
Jul 25, 2011 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 3.75* of five

The Book Report: The first John Cardinal mystery, we're introduced to Detective Cardinal as he is reassigned to Homocide after being yanked into burglaries and other such unglamourous pursuits for daring to investigate the strange disappearances of several very young people in fictional Algonquin Bay, Ontario. The disappearees all have in common the fact they're run away before, not an unusual thing there in Algonquin Bay, which is a central exchange point for rail, bus, and
Sep 12, 2009 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Forty Words for Sorrow" is the first novel in an excellent series by an accomplished writer. Early in the book, the reason for its title is made clear. John Cardinal, a homicide cop in a northern Ontario city, has just talked to a woman whose daughter has been murdered. "Eskimos, it is said, have forty different words for snow. Never mind about snow, Cardinal mused, what people really need is forty words for sorrow. Grief. Heartbreak. Desolation. There were not enough for this childless mother ...more
Lukasz Pruski
Jun 09, 2013 Lukasz Pruski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Giles Blunt's "Forty Words for Sorrow" is a very good, almost outstanding police procedural. One of the blurbs on the cover screams "The most horrifying story since The Silence of the Lambs (LA Times)". Well, not really, but it is pretty close. I would agree with Jonathan Kellerman's assessment, also published on the cover, "One of the finest crime novels I've ever read", as long as the pool of the "finest crime novels" is large enough.

This is the first novel in Mr. Blunt's notable series featur
Alexander Inglis
I would give Forty Words for Sorrow a resounding five stars, if by the highest rating I also meant, most satisfied. It is a brilliant book: the tale drags the reader along, mercilessly, into the warm hearts of the flawed good guys, the chilling heartlessness of the efficient bad guys, their brutality lashing out, page after page. A brilliant book? A deeply disturbing book ... I need a cleanser after this.

Giles Blunt's hero is Detective Inspector John Cardinal, 10 years already on the Algonquin B
Shirley Schwartz
Mar 15, 2017 Shirley Schwartz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had read the third book in this series some time ago (Black Fly Season), and always thought I'd get back to the series and start with book one, but that never happened until now. I had been watching the CTV-TV adaptation of this particular book, and it reminded me that I wanted to get back to reading the series. This is a very good policce procedural series set in Northern Ontario, in and around Algonquin Bay. In this first book Detective John Cardinal meets his partner, Lise Delorme. He knows ...more
Marianne Stehr
OK, here's the thing, when the cover says things like "One of the finest crime novels I've ever read." and "The most horrifying story since The Silence of the Lambs." I am expecting better, much better. This was the typical run of the mill crime novel, it had some suspense, but told you who did it half way through, they had no connection to the story and then set the cops on finding that person(s), you knew they would find them, there was a subplot twist that ended predictably and all in all it ...more
I was expecting something a "bit more' from this relatively straight forward police procedural. It was dark and it was gritty but there was too much going on with other threads within the story. I found that it took a bit away from the focus on the police investigation.

I loved the desolate setting, the bleakness and vastness and the murder/mystery component was well done. I just felt that some of the secondary, side stories detracted from the mystery component overall.
Luis Alberto
Jan 17, 2010 Luis Alberto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mystery fans who haven't discovered Giles Blunt should rejoice. You have many hours of exceptionally well-written story ahead of you.
Jun 04, 2015 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In der klirrenden Kälte des kanadischen Winters wird in einem Minenschacht, festgefroren in einem Eisblock, die grausig zugerichtete Leiche eines Mädchens gefunden. Und in der Provinzstadt Algonquin Bay sind noch drei weitere Teenager
spurlos verschwunden. Detective John Cardinal glaubt, dass ein perverser
Serienkiller sein Unwesen treibt. Doch die Wahrheit ist noch viel erschreckender ...


Giles Blunt, geboren 1952, wuchs in North Bay in der kanadischen Provinz Ontario auf un
Jun 22, 2011 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
I heard somewhere that this book was marketed with a money-back guarantee if the reader wasn't satisfied. Pretty audacious move. I wonder how this worked out for them.

I wasn't unsatisfied, but after all the high praise that had been heaped upon this, I was a little under-whelmed.
It's a pretty good police procedural, and the nice thing about it for me is that it was set in a small Ontario town, with plenty of Canadiana spread around. This was nicely familiar for a while, but I have to admit there
Mar 09, 2012 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
I swept through this in a matter of two days -- what a suspenseful book. I could barely put it down.

The suspense wasn't about the identity of the killers, but rather the terror that our flawed investigators would not identify them in time. Or at all.

In writing these reviews regularly, I've definitely discovered that three-dimensional characters with an inner life are important to me in my favorite books. I need to have hero/ines that struggle. I remember a quote that I will paraphrase (badly)
Jan 03, 2013 Philip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Giles Blunt that I've read but it sure won't be the last. I already have "The Delicate Storm" on hold at my library. As always I try to read these series in order. It is very difficult to write a serial killer mystery that hasn't already been done quite a few times but Giles has done a pretty fair job here with a few kinda different twists. I think he has had a good look at Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series as John Cardinal seems to operate in very much a Bosch way but the ...more
Ellen Keim
May 24, 2012 Ellen Keim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
When I decided that I wanted to try some Canadian mystery writers, another Goodreads member gave me a list which included this author. It turned out to be a great book to start with.

One thing that fascinated me about this book was the weather. My family has a cabin on a lake in Ontario, not quite as far north as the town in the book, but far enough north to share some of the same climate. I've always wondered what it would be like to be up at the lake in the winter and now I have a much better
Oct 11, 2013 Maddy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
PROTAGONIST: Detective John Cardinal / Lise Delorme
SETTING: Algonquin Bay, Canada
SERIES: #1 of 6
RATING: 3.75
WHY: Detective John Cardinal long believed that a few missing children cases were linked. When the body of one of them is found, the investigation is expanded. He comes to believe a serial killer is at work. Lise Delorme is assigned to his team. She had worked for the Office of Special Investigations, and he believes that she is actually investigating him. He has cause for worry. At the sa
Lisa Hale
Oct 17, 2010 Lisa Hale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Mysteries as my "light entertainment". Giles Blunt is my new favourite mystery writer - and he rates up there with the PD James and Ian Rankin. The best part is that he is Canadian, and he bases his stories in a small, northern community. I can hardly wait to read the other 2 Giles Blunt books I picked up - I am hooked. The story quickly draws you in and the main characters are intricate and intriguing. I don't want to give too much away, but the plot is wound tight and, if you read at be ...more
Lucy Crowe
Nov 26, 2015 Lucy Crowe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've found him! At last, a writer who approaches the high bar set by my all-time favorite James Lee Burke. To be honest, I had come to believe he didn't exist;but in Forty Words for Sorrow, Giles Blunt has absolutely made it happen. I fell in love with his hard bitten but soulful cop character, John Carpenter. I felt the bite of the cold, smelled the booze, and, in short, walked in his shoes. Which is exactly as it should be - and also which, in the literary world, is a very rare animal indeed. ...more
Lori Bamber
Dec 14, 2015 Lori Bamber rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was thrilled to find this book - the writing is gorgeous, the characters interesting, the writer Canadian and it is set in gritty North Ontario.

But it evolved into a Paul Bernardo/Marquis de Sade saga that left me feeling physically ill - and TV shows like Luther and Justified are among my favourites, so it isn't that I don't enjoy dark.

I'd love to read another Giles Blunt novel with a significantly less brutal storyline, but I'm putting this book in the recycling so that no one else has to r
Nov 17, 2013 Elinor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to begin with the first book in this series and read my way through, primarily because I can borrow the books from the Invermere Public Library and read them on my iPad. I have always enjoyed Giles Blunt, and I am struck once again with his proficiency. His Canadian detective can match wits with the best of all fictional sleuths.
Ridley Maclean
Very nicely written, but the crime itself was a boring serial killer thing and I hate that -- it's an easy out for a writer. Far more interesting to write believable crimes by ordinary people. Liked the cop plot much more than the criminal plot. By the end I was ready for the end.
Apr 23, 2013 Harini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moody and atmospheric - story of a flawed cop and the hunt for a deranged serial killer.
Set in Algonquin Bay, Canada, the location is an almost a character in the book. The desolate, frozen area and its descriptions add to the sense of chill at the murders.
Oct 29, 2010 Bill rated it really liked it
Nicely paced mystery set in Northern Ontario. John Cardinal is a well written character. It's gritty and suspenseful
Not my normal genre, but I decided to read with the upcoming series on CTV. I found the first 100 pages incredibly predictable--Older jaded cop struggling with personal demons, wife institutionalized for depression, serial murderer on the loose, small town in northern Ontario, being investigated unknowingly by his new partner-- and there were a few issues with details that a bit of research by an editor would have cleared up (Aanishnawbek First Nations reserve?? REALLY?).

I also don't like knowin
Jan 22, 2017 Evaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this first of the John Cardinal mystery thrillers to get ready for the 6-episode mini-series (Cardinal) that's coming on CTV this coming week and I'm glad I did. The introduction of Detective John Cardinal and his new partner Lise Delorme is a pretty good read. It didn't blow me away, but it certainly held my interest and has me looking forward to the show, which BTW, is perfectly cast with Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse as Cardinal and Delorme respectively.

The mystery of who is commit
Alison Hardtmann
Nov 25, 2016 Alison Hardtmann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-but-unowned
Forty Words for Sorrow is set in the fictional town of Algonquin Bay, Ontario, located between Sudbury and Mattawa, and takes place during February. The body of a missing girl is found, sending the detective who was convinced that she wasn't just another runaway back to the job of investigating her disappearance. John Cardinal lives alone; his daughter is away at university and his wife is battling depression in an asylum. He is partnered with Delorme, who has just moved to homicide from interna ...more
Shirley Mytnowych
Feb 13, 2017 Shirley Mytnowych rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is set in northern Ontario, in a town called Algonquin Bay. The familiar places of Toronto, Orillia and Mississauga add to intensity of reading this dynamic mystery-thriller. Definitely not for those with a weak stomach as the serial killer also enjoys torturing his victims.

A dual mystery as the detective hunting down the killer is also under investigation for corruption.

Currently a mini-series on CTV, this book will keep you up all night reading and then thinking about it afterward
Dennis Osborne
Jan 25, 2017 Dennis Osborne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just picked up this book and coincidently the next day read a review in the Globe & Mail of a new TV series called Cardinal, which is based on the main figure of this book , and the TV show got glowing reviews. I can see why if it followed the book , which appears to be a first in a series based in Northern Ontario by Giles Blunt who is a Canadian author. Now I need to check out the TV show and get the next book from this author
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Calling (Hazel Micallef Mystery #1)
  • Certainty
  • City of Ice
  • Lost Girls
  • Buffalo Jump (Jonah Geller #1)
  • Confined Space (Bern Fortin mystery, #1)
  • Six Metres of Pavement
  • Night's Child (Detective Murdoch, #5)
  • Kamouraska
  • The Wandering Soul Murders (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #3)
  • George And Rue
  • Old City Hall (Detective Greene, #1)
  • Swamp Angel
  • Elizabeth and After
  • Red Ribbons (Dr. Kate Pearson, #1)
  • Cold Mourning (Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery, #1)
  • Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel
  • The Amazing Absorbing Boy
Giles Blunt (born 1952 in Windsor, Ontario) is a Canadian novelist and screenwriter. His first novel, Cold Eye, was a psychological thriller set in the New York art world, which was made into the French movie Les Couleurs du diable (Allain Jessua, 1997).

He is also the author of the John Cardinal novels, set in the small town of Algonquin Bay, in Northern Ontario. Blunt grew up in North Bay, and Al
More about Giles Blunt...

Other Books in the Series

John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery (6 books)
  • The Delicate Storm (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery, #2)
  • Blackfly Season (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery, #3)
  • By the Time You Read This (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery, #4)
  • Crime Machine (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery, #5)
  • Until the Night (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery, #6)

Share This Book