The Planet Grief. An incalculable number of light years from the warmth of the sun. When the rain falls, it falls in droplets of grief, and when the light shines, it is in waves and particles of grief. From whatever direction the wind blows-south, east, north or west- it blows cinders of grief before it. Grief stings your eyes and sucks the breath from your lungs. No oxygen on this planet, no nitrogen; the atmosphere is composed entirely of grief. [By the Time You Read This, page 37]
Catherine Cardinal, wife of Sergeant John Cardinal, is dead. Ruled a suicide, it comes as no real surprise to those who knew her. Catherine had suffered from manic depression for over twenty years. Long stints of hospitalization were followed by healthy periods permeated by worry and anxiousness that everything would once again disintegrate. Her last hospital stay had been over a year ago. Catherine had been finding peace and fulfillment in her photography and taking her medication regularly. From years of experience, Cardinal had taken all of these signs to be positive and hopeful.
So along with coping with devastating grief, Cardinal is confused. Although a suicide note in Catherine's handwriting was found at the scene, Cardinal isn't convinced that his wife was responsible for her own death. She was distracted when she left to take pictures the night she died, but she was nowhere near the despondent state she attained when she was ill. It wasn't adding up.
Everyone in the department, even his partner, Lise Delorme, believes Cardinal's refusal to accept his wife's suicide is only the denial that comes with the agony of his loss. Even his daughter, Kelly, has accepted her mother's fate. But when Cardinal receives a card with a typewritten note inside taunting him about his wife's death, he is resolute that someone has murdered Catherine.
In Cardinal's line of work, a man can pile up a lot of enemies. The first likely suspect that comes to his mind is Kiki B., an "associate" of a drug dealer, Rick Bouchard, who he had sent to prison. Kiki B. knew where Cardinal lived and he had an axe to grind-Bouchard had been killed while serving his sentence.
With Delorme wrapped up in a nasty sex crimes case, Cardinal goes it alone. When Kiki B. turns out to have made a career change, Cardinal moves on to other members of the criminal element he'd had the pleasure to put away. As he moves through a long line of suspects, Cardinal finds himself settling on perhaps the most unlikely suspect of all.