Until the Night is the sixth novel in Giles Blunt’s Detective John Cardinal series.
4 out of 10 stars. When Giles Blunt began the John Cardinal series, I truly enjoyed his writing. But rather quickly he turned to really deviant, really perverse content for his crime series. In the last novel in the series, Crime Machine, he had a scene in which an old man gives a blow job to a very young teenage boy in front of his “crew”. It was so perverse it made me sick. This scene added nothing to the story. With Until the Night, he’s still adding completely unnecessary and perverse scenes. I can see why this was never published in the U.S. We’re really tired of this garbage.
In Until the Night, every other chapter is taken from a diary called The Blue Notebook and is written by the antagonist, who is actually the protagonist in this novel, Karson “Kit” Durie. In 1992, Kit was part of a scientific team stationed on an ice floe in the Arctic at Drift Station Arcosaur. Also stationed there was his colleague Kurt Vanderbyl and Kurt’s estranged wife Rebecca Finn. Kit immediately falls in love with Rebecca and she falls in love with him. One of their group, a new recruit, is a grad student Ray Deville, who is not doing well in the Arctic and is showing mental instability. One day he disappears on the ice and comes back with an empty clip in his gun. They discover he came upon a polar bear eating a seal and emptied a full clip into the bear, for no apparent reason. They schedule a plane to pick him up and Ray falls apart, going full postal. Just as Ray begins his killing rampage aboard the station, a ice earthquake occurs ripping the camp apart and imploding one of the buildings. Two scientists who are on vehicles immediately die, falling through the enormous crack in the ice. Kurt is on one end of camp and this becomes its own little ice floe as he floats away, but he has the radio tower so he’ll be rescued quickly. Kit and Rebecca are not so lucky. They’re stuck on a small section of ice with no buildings, no supplies, no clothes, an injured doctor, and Ray the killer. After Ray kills the doctor, Kit is forced to kill Ray. Then he tries against insurmountable odds to save Rebecca. They manage to stay alive for almost two days when they see a group of men in the distance and signal them. The men wave back so they know they are seen, but then they disappear and fail to rescue them. Rebecca dies, and Kit is eventually rescued. Angered by Kit’s love affair with Rebecca, Kurt testifies that it was Kit, not Ray, who killed everyone. He is charged with four murders and spends 18 years in prison, never getting paroled. When he is released, he plots revenge on those four men who left him and Rebecca to die.
The four men hide their involvement in the deaths of the scientists and the conviction of Kit Durie for four murders he didn’t commit. They go their separate ways, but twenty years later they are brought back together when their loved ones are abducted by a man in a white van with a limp, changed into blue parkas and snow boots, and left in the cold to freeze to death. The first is Marjorie Flint, wife of David Flint. The second is Laura LaCroix, wife of Keith Rettig. Then Cardinal discovers there was a third who died a year ago, Brenda Gauthier, wife of Frank Gauthier. The fourth becomes Hayley Babstock, daughter of Ronny Babstock, but Cardinal gets to her in time and saves her as Kit kills himself. In 1992, Babstock, Gauthier, Flint, and Rettig were at the LARS Laval Arctic Research Station testing a robotic lunar rover they designed independently for NASA. They were out testing this rover on the day Kit Durie and Rebecca Finn were fighting for their lives. Kit signaled them and they saw it, motioning back. But then they made a conscious decision to leave the couple to die.
The chapters that are the current time period are obviously written by Giles Blunt and easy to read. The chapters that are in 1992 from the Blue Notebook are bizarre and difficult to read. They’re not written like diary entries. They’re like a second unskilled author. The dialogue is not quoted and hard to follow. And the sex scenes are disgustingly graphic and completely unnecessary.
A second subplot is thread through the story, an old murder case that Delorme is investigating without her superior’s knowledge. It involves a former British singer, Leonard Priest, who owns a string of sex clubs. These scenes were also really unnecessary and particularly graphic.
4 out of 10 stars. I’ve tried reading Giles Blunt’s other novels that are not part of the John Cardinal series. They’re boring. Obviously Blunt thinks he has some insights into some deeply disturbing individuals, but it’s boring to read. If you’re going to read any of the novels in the John Cardinal series, I recommend reading The Delicate Storm. It was easily the best in the series and ironically enough was never included in the Canadian TV series, Cardinal.
Incidentally, if you are expecting the Canadian Cardinal TV series to follow the same plot as Until the Night, it doesn’t. I’ve watched three episodes of Cardinal season 4 which is supposedly based on Until the Night, but it follows a completely different story. The only vague similarity is that the victims die of freezing. The rest of the plot is some eco-terrorism thing involving peregrine falcons that’s pretty lame.