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Blackfly Season

(John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery #3)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,672 ratings  ·  157 reviews
Red Bear stood close to the fire and stretched toward the sky, every muscle in his body straining. The veins in his neck stood out like electrical cords. His voice had gone thin and raspy and the words came streaming out of him with a terrible urgency. The words– if in fact they were words – collided with one another. [Blackfly Season, page 94]

According to Detective John
Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 26th 2006 by Seal Books (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  1,672 ratings  ·  157 reviews

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Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed this book without being aware that it was number three in a series until I was reading the reviews after I finished it! Now I will have to go back and read the first two.
This is an excellent police procedural with several really appealing main characters on the side of the law. On the other side, the baddies are really bad and some of the events gruesome in the extreme. It all made for excellent reading and I raced through it.
A really good book from a new to me author with
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
After not hugely enjoying the second book in this series, Blackfly Season was a welcome return to the form that I enjoyed so much in the first book.

It all begins when a confused young woman is found, memory-less and unconcerned. After discovering she's somehow survived a horrific attack, John Cardinal and Lise Delorme find themselves hunting down a man with a power they've never imagined.

Giles Blunt really excels at bringing his books to reflect real-life scenarios; Palo Mayombe really was used
Rebecca McNutt
Black Fly Season takes readers on an exciting and gripping journey to a rural town affected by an unforgettable mystery. This book was really well-written and a very evocative story.
Jan 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The third John Cardinal novel is as good as the first two. It begins with quite a narrative hook: a young woman is brought in who has no memory of her life or identity. It soon becomes clear that she was shot in the head with a handgun using old ammunition. Who is she? Who shot her? Why? Not long after her shooting, the dismembered body of a biker (member of a really ugly motorcycle gang) is found behind a waterfall at a provincial park. Is there a connection between the two events? Cardinal and ...more
Michele Drier
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Someone in an onlne writers' group recommended Giles Blunt and I'm happy he did! John Cardinal is a multi-layered protagonist in the northern wilds of Ontario and Blunt makes the geography of this area come alive.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this series.
Nov 21, 2013 rated it liked it
I more than "liked" this book, but I "really like" the author and his writing. So this was a mostly enjoyable read for me. I always enjoy the descriptions of life in northern Ontario because my family has a cabin there and I can relate to what it's like there. One thing I'd heard about but not experienced is "blackfly season," and now I know I never want to experience it! We always avoid it when we go to our cabin (or cottage, as Canadians would call it).

I wasn't crazy about how over-the-top the
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Giles Blunt truly comes into his own with his third novel. His rich characterization of the setting and citizens of northern Ontario is top of form.

Having dispensed with many cliched complications for hero John Cardinal, this book focuses less on advancing ground with his main characters and more on depicting the crime, its perpetrators and victims.

Particularly noteworthy are his continued excellent depiction of mental illness and its impact on the victim's loved-ones, and his portrayal of
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The third in Blunt's series and each one gets better. Really like his writing style and great characters. A real page turner.
Deb Jones
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series
This thriller/police procedural featuring small town Canadian police detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme begins with the appearance of an unknown young woman in a local bar. The bartender takes note as she moves from one table of people to another before coming up to the bar. When she speaks to the barkeep, it becomes apparent that something is off about her.

"Off" turns out to be an understatement. The young woman, Jane Doe, doesn't know her name let alone where she is or where she's come
Oct 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tops, 2006-reads
PROTAGONIST: John Cardinal and Lise Delorme, homicide detectives
SETTING: Ontario, Canada
SERIES: #3 of 3
RATING: 4.75

Located far north in the province of Ontario, Algonquin Bay is normally a placid place of scenic splendor. However, there's one time of year that's a trial for every person that dares to go outside of their home, and that's "black fly season". The flies attack viciously, covering the victim in bites and bloody red marks. Most people don't voluntarily expose themselves at all during
Lukasz Pruski
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Giles Blunt's "Blackfly Season" is the third novel in the Cardinal/Delorme series (and the fourth that I have read). While the first book in the series, "Forty Words for Sorrow", is a good and engaging police procedural, this novel is again quite unspectacular, despite the author being out of the usual "sophomore slump".

Detectives Cardinal an Delorme are now trying to solve the case that begins when a young woman who seems to have lost her memory and does not know who she is wanders into a bar
Shirley Mytnowych
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
John Cardinal has to be one of my favourite detectives of any series. This is the third book in the series and probably my favourite on so far although I rated the other high as well. You can always count on a really good mystery with interesting characters while following the lives of John Cardinal and Lise Delorme. Can't wait to get my hands on the next one but hoping to save some for the summer. Would be a great cottage read because I would have time to read beginning to end in one sitting. ...more
I was expecting a lot more after Forty Words for Sorrow, but with this novel Blunt moves a little closer to the paint-by-numbers “genre novel” and a little farther away from what would be a true innovation: the literary detective story. Blunt gets carried away here with plot elements that seriously strain credibility, and he replaces the psychological depth of Forty Words with splatter-film detailing that you can read in any of about 32,281 other serial-killer novels. There are also continuity ...more
This third police procedural in the Detective John Cardinal, Algonquin Bay, Canada, has a lot of potentially intriguing things going on at the same time, and a good semi-rural Canadian setting to recommend it. But the pacing is patchy, at times becoming almost incoherent as the reader tries to figure out just who is speaking, and where/when they are. It’s a major flaw in an otherwise strong mystery story about a nice guy policeman and one of his more interesting cases.

A young stranger with a
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Blunt gives us a mystery that includes a beautiful young woman with amnesia, organized drug trafficking, a biker gang, an esoteric religion that uses torture to gain power, dedicated police detectives, and the requisite dead bodies, with just a touch of mental illness added, mostly to flesh out a key character.

Blunt has creatively and effectively used flies as a key organizing theme. Apparently this novel is based on a crime that actually happened, though who knows how close to the "facts" the
Richard Thompson
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Blunt is a new "find". Picked up THE FIELDS OF GRIEF at Book and Co. on the bargain table. Maggee read that one and really enjoyed it. We picked up two more, BLACKFLY SEASON and THE DELICATE STORM at the libary. I finished BLACKFLY SEASON last night and she finished THE DELICATE STORM a few minutes later. Now we will switch.

This series features, John Cardinal, a police detective in a the small northern community of Algonquin Bay. He has a manic-depressive wife to whom he is devoted (but who
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: suspense
This series continues very strong, although here the focus was mostly on Cardinal and less on his female partner, Lisa Delorme. Again, excellent, compelling suspense with Cardinal's bi-polar wife -- painful suspense with regard to her condition and safety.

My only complaint (quibble, really) is my lack of comfort with his treatment of Palo Mayombe, an offshoot of Voodoo or similar African diaspora religion. I looked it up in Wikipedia and it seems like Blunt did some reasonable research into the
Mark Lisac
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
A nifty police thriller that makes a more enjoyable read than many in the genre. The plot and pacing are spot on. The setting, a barely fictionalized version of North Bay, Ontario, is appealing. Haven't read the others in the series so can't say how this one fits in or compares.
There are several irritations: unreasonable coincidences that grow in number toward the end; an outrageously drawn main bad guy; conventional (almost de rigueur) complications in Detective John Cardinal's family life;
Lucy Crowe
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have happily moved into Giles Blunt's world, and with the rest of his books on order I may stay there for awhile. By now, I feel completely invested in John Cardinal's life - personal and professional - and there is enough at stake that I want to see the outcome. But, more than that, Blunt is a born storyteller with a gift for atmospheric description and the ability to carry the action through all the way to the end. "Black Fly Season" finds our cold weather characters enduring Spring, which ...more
Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third in a series of police procedurals set in the fictional Algonquin Bay, Ontario (which has many things in common with the real city of North Bay). Local police officers John Cardinal and Lise Delorme are presented with a young woman who doesn't know who she is or where she is; upon examination she has a bullet wound to the head. Then, a hiker stumbles on a dismembered body. And all this is taking place during black fly season, which makes everyone irritable. There are the usual ...more
Oct 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any police drama reader
Recommended to Bill by: part of a series that I discovered
This is the third John Cardinal story I've read so far. None of them have let me down and this one in particular was excellent. It was a bit grittier than the others, nicely suspenseful and well-paced. I enjoy the main characters, John Cardinal is an interesting protagonist, a good cop, with personal issues as well. Lise Delorm, his partner, is also one I want to be developed more in future stories. The surrounding characters add to the plot and keep the story moving nicely. I especially like ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dont-do-it
After finding this book in a community book share library I thought I would give it a try.

To be honest I found the thriller aspect of this book was really quite good. But I felt that the underlining depiction of immigrants and Indigenous peoples drowned out the thrill. Blunt depicts these folks as harbouring some alter corrupt motive (i.e. drug dealing to "get ahead"), which perpetuates the stereotypes that exist. It makes me question how much 'actual' research Blunt carried out. Sure one of the
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now we're talking! A VERY good read and much more what I expected from Giles Blunt after the great "40 Words of Sorrow" and the massive letdown of "The Delicate Storm". Has returned my faith in great Canadian mystery writers and I'm on my way to the Library, when they open tomorrow after today's holiday, to pick up "By The Time You Read This". I still believe you have to read these series in published order to really get the most out of the character development even if if each book contains ...more
Marjie Smith
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Spoiler alert
When a young woman shows up in Algonquin Bay suffering from apparent amnesia and blackfly bites, suspicions of something not quite right prove to be correct. She has been shot, but due to the age of the gun used, the bullet didn’t explode. As she recovers and her memory returns, the police who are trying to protect her discover that she is not working fully with them and wonder what she has to hide. An action thriller, there is a dark side to this novel beyond the murders as it
Buried In Print
This review was deleted following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads.

The review can still be viewed via LibraryThing, where my profile can be found here.

I'm also in the process of building a database at Booklikes, where I can be found here.

If you read/liked/clicked through to see this review here on GR, many thanks.
John Mills
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
A tight plot, well developed chracters and fast pace made for a read that kept me reading long past my bed time.

Blunt made me relive time spent in N. Ontario during blackfly season. He not only brings the characters alive but gives a true feel for where it is happening.

If you enjoy crime novels, you will love the Cardinal series. As a bonus, you will also get the benefit of reading a novel that is literature.
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#3 in the John Cardinal & Lise Delorme series. Finalist 2006 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel.

John Cardinal & Lise Delorme look into the background of a young woman who shows up with no memory and a bullet in her brain. The investigation leads to biker drug runners, a form of Voodoo most common to Cuba, and another attempted murder with weak bullets. Cardinal's wife is back in the psychiatric hospital.

Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great addition to the series. I enjoyed how the author continued to add dimensions to the main characters. The overall story was solid. There were elements about this story that enjoyed more than the first two books. Blunt has an easy to read prose style and turn a sentence if the mood hits. I recommend this book to all mystery and thriller fans.
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
I felt is was good, as are most Canadian novels I've picked up by chance, but not as strong as others I've read. However, the characters were excellent still and I'd keep an eye out for further books by this author.
What I loved about this book the most is recognizing and even being able to picture the areas mentioned, especially Highway 11, Algonquin, Huntsville, and Toronto.
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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

Other books in the series

John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery (6 books)
  • Forty Words for Sorrow (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery, #1)
  • The Delicate Storm (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery, #2)
  • 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)