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Author Giles Blunt spins a highly disturbing tale in Blackfly Season. It's summer in Algonquin Bay and the black flies are driving people a little mad, including Detective Cardinal and his partner Lise Delorme. A young woman has wandered into an Algonquin bar without money, keys, ID or her memory. The reason? A bullet lodged in her brain. Assuming whoever tried to kill her may want to finish the job, Cardinal begins to piece together his investigation. Subsequent clues and the discovery of a biker's corpse with head, hands and feet removed, connect the two cases. His investigation takes him into the path of a mysterious figure, known as Red Bear, who is vying for the leadership of the Algonquin drug trade. Inspired by real cult murders that happened on the Mexican/US border, Blackfly Season pulses towards a chilling conclusion.

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Barry Hammond
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Dr. Wendy Johnston
Neurologist
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Blackfly Season is just non-stop action from beginning to end. It's written almost like it's made to be turned into a movie, and author Giles Blunt doesn't release the tension from the beginning chapter right up until the end.

One thing that I discovered while reading this book is that the character of Red Bear is based on a real guy called Adolfo de Jesús Constanza. This guy was actually cutting off people's hands and toes and putting them into a cauldron, he was controlling a drug cartel, and he had followers who he killed, just as Red Bear does. I didn't find out who got Adolfo into the Palo Mayombe religion, although his mother practiced it, and he did have mentors.

Blunt is very good with his minor characters, even somebody as unlikeable as the addict, Kevin Tate. I liked the truth of Kevin's mindset, where he's not so much set on where his next fix will come from, but rather when he's going to quit. It's always going to be next Monday or next week, but it never happens.

Ultimately, this book deals with the theme of decay, mental and physical. It ties in to the fact that we're dealing with drug dealers and the moral and physical decay in the drug scene, and certainly ties in with Red Bear's mind, and even John Cardinal's bipolar wife.

Other reviews by Barry Hammond:
The Maltese Falcon
The Closers
Grave Tattoo

 

Very fast-paced, a good read, and I really enjoyed the dialogue. I ordinarily would not enjoy a book that was about any sort of ritualistic murder or bikers or the drug trade, let alone all three in one book. But I think Blunt really brings it off without diminishing the seriousness of any of these particular crimes. The book has so much good writing, good humour, and great setting that you end up getting out of it what I think most mystery writers want, which is a sense that all's right in the world, at least by the end of the book.

The book opens with a young woman wandering around a bar in Algonquin Bay with a bullet lodged in her brain. People survive bullets to the brain all the time. It's amazing how plastic the brain is, how people can recover from even more devastating injuries to good and in time very normal functions so that you wouldn't know that they'd had a brain injury. It was quite clever of Blunt to avoid attributing Terry Tate's memory loss to the bullet's trajectory through her brain, but instead imply that it's the repercussions of the bullet wound like brain swelling, trauma, or even a voluntary memory loss.

Other reviews by Dr. Wendy Johnston:
Memory Book