there is nothing more still than a dead body, and no mistaking it for anything else. This one was naked, covered with a glaze of ice. Even the long black hair that fell in tendrils across her face was encased in ice. It was as if she were under a spell-the victim of a jealous wizard, a wicked witch. [The Delicate Storm, page 164]
Algonquin Bay is wrapped in a thick blanket of fog; an eerie prophecy of weather on its way, or perhaps something more ominous. When a local man discovers a dismembered arm in his front yard, it seems that the long fingers of fog that strangle the city are also hiding a grisly secret. While at first the discovery is thought to be the work of ravenous bears, woken early from their long winter hibernation, the coroner later confirms that the victim was actually sawn into pieces rather torn. The case becomes even murkier when a local trapper confesses to cutting up the body and scattering the remains but claims to be innocent of committing the murder.
Detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme have their work cut out for them. After identifying the victim as Howard Matlock, New York city resident, a new player enters the ring: the RCMP. In any case involving an American, the RCMP shares jurisdiction with the Algonquin Bay Police Department and that means Corporal Malcolm Musgrave. A blustering wall of self-importance and attitude, Musgrave has Cardinal bristling, and he reminds Delorme of a betrayal she'd rather forget. To add insult to injury, Delorme is pulled off the case and Cardinal ends up in a partnership not only with Musgrave, but with the unbearably obsequious Calvin Squier, an agent of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
When Cardinal makes the surprising discovery that Howard Matlock is alive and well, he begins to suspect that not everyone involved in the case is working towards the same goal. The body parts add up to one Miles Shakeley, a CIA operative in Montreal in 1970, and Cardinal becomes suspicious that CSIS is somehow involved.
Meanwhile, the case of a missing woman in Algonquin Bay is occupying Delorme. When the body of Dr. Winter Cates is uncovered in a glaze of ice, Delorme is convinced that a jealous boyfriend is to blame. But when blood evidence bonds Cardinal and Delorme's cases, they are back together and travelling to Montreal to track down tenuous leads. And it is there that they discover that their cases reach far beyond the town limits of Algonquin Bay. Untangling the secrets of a government in crisis, cover-ups, and the meddling of American intelligence agencies, they are eventually led back to where they started-and to a suspect who is untouchable.