Green Books Campaign – Review of The Cardinal Divide by Stephen Legault


This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a  a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

When I think of green books, I usually think of ebooks.  While it can be more difficult to lend out an ebook to a friend, they don’t take up space in landfills.  Eco-Libris was kind enough to provide me with a copy of The Cardinal Divide by Stephen Legault.  It’s published by NeWest Press on 100% recycled, ancient forest-friendly paper.  What exactly does that mean?  It means no material from ancient forests were used to produce the paper.  It doesn’t indicate if the recycled paper is recycled from post-consumer or pre-consumer use but it’s still good.  Recycled paper takes less energy to produce and reduces the amount of paper that ends up in our landfills.

The Cardinal Divide has environmentally friendly written all over it.  It’s the first book in The Cole Blackwater mysteries.  Stephen Legault knows firsthand the character of Cole Blackwater.  Both are environmentalists who have worked with organizations, companies and the Canadian government to lessen the environmental impact of industry.  To my  knowledge, Legault has never turned into a private detective trying to solve a murder mystery.

Here’s the synopsis:

Cole Blackwater’s life isn’t what it used to be. Once a political superstar within Ottawa’s environmental movement, he now runs a nearly defunct conservation strategy consulting firm which distinctly lacks a paying client. His ex-wife loathes him for a scandalous affair that ended their marriage, he feels he’s failing his eight-year-old daughter as a father, and he’s turning far too often to the bottle to solve his problems.

So when Peggy McSorlie, head of the Eastern Slopes Conservation Group, seeks his help to stop a mining project planned for Alberta’s magnificent Cardinal Divide, Blackwater jumps on the opportunity to earn enough money to pay the rent and buy a few pints at his favorite pub. But when Mike Barnes, head of the mining project, is brutally murdered and a radical member of Eastern Slopes Conservation Group is accused of killing him, Blackwater must first prove the man’s innocence in order to save his own business, and the future of the Cardinal Divide.

The pace starts off fast and then slows down.  The murder takes place in the prologue but it isn’t until 160 pages in that Blackwater decides he should do what he can to help the environmentalist charged with the murder of Mike Barnes.  This is the beginning of a series so this can be overlooked.  Legault has a lot of back story that ties into getting to know Blackwater.  It’s essential knowledge to this story when a person from Blackwater’s past appears to report on the murder.  The reader is given clues to the murderer’s identity but it’s still a surprise when the reader finds out who it is.


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