Giles Blunt’s novel By the Time You Read This was published in 2008 by St. Martin’s Press. It is Blunt’s fourth crime novel.
The novel is set in fictional Algonquin Bay, Ontario, and features the character John Cardinal (who appears in Blunt’s previous work). John Cardinal is a police detective and his wife, Catherine, is a photographer who teaches at a local college. They have one daughter, Kelly, who lives in New York.
In By the Time You Read This, Cardinal receives a call that involves the mayor and the mayor’s wife. He visits the courtyard of the Birches Motel with the mayor. Cardinal then receives another call about a woman found dead behind the Gateway condos. Cardinal leaves the mayor and meets a young sergeant who tells him about the body found next to the dumpster. Cardinal falls to his knees after realizing that the dead woman is Catherine.
Cardinal grieves over the death of his wife, who has apparently taken her own life. Because she was diagnosed as a manic-depressive, her suicide is a possibility. The medical examiner is unable to find any evidence of foul play or violence. Cardinal's police partner, Lisa Delorme, believes that Cardinal is in denial. Even Kelly, his daughter, also has accepted that her mother’s death was a suicide.
Funeral arrangements are made, and Cardinal receives the first of a series of “anti-sympathy” notes, or hate mail. These notes convince Cardinal that Catherine was murdered. He knows that in his work he makes enemies. As Cardinal considers a list of possible suspects, he focuses on Kiki B., who worked with Rick Bouchard, a drug dealer sent to prison based on Cardinal’s police work. Upon investigating Kiki, Cardinal learns that Kiki is no longer in the drug business and is not a strong suspect for Catherine’s murder. Cardinal continues to investigate other criminals that he has helped to incarcerate, but achieves little emotional closure.
Critics enjoy Blunt’s provocative and moving novel. He explores grief, murder, mental illness, and suicide with sensitivity and knowledge. The novel’s twists and turns provide a gripping tale, and the characters are realistic and draw empathy from readers.