Alumni Association hosts Philosopher's Café


What do a failed Shakespearian actor, a coming-of-age boy and a group of vicious thieves have in common? According to fans of internationally-acclaimed novelist Giles Blunt, they make for one gripping story.

Giles Blunt, best known for his four-novel John Cardinal crime series, read from his recent novel No Such Creature last Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Blunt was the first guest for U of Ts Philosophers Café, a series of events showcasing U of T alumni who have graduated from or are currently involved in the arts. The animated reading, complete with Blunts affected British and New York accents, was followed by a question-and-answer session. Over thirty U of T alumni and students attended the reading in the Deans Lounge in the North Building.

Blunt, a UTM alumnus, obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975. During his undergraduate years at UTM, Blunt was greatly influenced by Shakespeare.  He particularly remembers Macbeth and Othello.

They were just so brilliantly constructed in terms of suspense. Its useful for any writer, said Blunt. And then theres all the wealth of insight into human nature that he brings. Just on the concrete level of telling a story, theres nobody better.

Blunt is also the winner of the British Crime Writers Macallan Silver Dagger and Canadas Arthur Ellis awards. His recent John Cardinal novel,  By the Time You Read This, was shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger award, the most prestigious crime fiction award in the world. Blunts desire to write emerged when he was eight years old, after reading The Adventure Series by British writer Enid Blyton.

I wanted to write one of those because I loved them so much, Blunt said. So I sat down with my mothers typewriter, and I started typing away my adventure story and I think I got to page two and a half, and I ran into plot problems. Its still on the shelf.

No Such Creature tells the story of an old man named Max, who failed to become a Shakespearian actor but succeeded in becoming a charming thief. His associate is his adopted great-nephew Owen, who slowly realizes he longs for a life without crime. The unlikely pair relish in their usual, lucrative summer. That is, until they learn about the Subtractors.

Thought to be an urban myth, the Subtractors are a gang of thieves who hunt other thieves. Upon learning of a fellow thiefs successful operation, the gang captures him and subtracts parts of his body until he gives up the bearings of the loot. Soon, Max and Owen find their recent success in Las Vegas becoming a gamble of life when they learn they may be next on the Subtractors list. But the Subtractors are just a myth, arent they?
In 1980, Blunt moved to New York. During his time in the United States, he wrote for crime TV series such as Night Heat, Diamonds and Law and Order. Blunt now resides in Toronto with his wife Janna.

Giles Blunt plans on writing two more novels for his John Cardinal series, but also hopes to write more stand-alone novels like No Such Creature. His latest novel, Breaking Lorca, tells of the interrogation of a young woman in 1980s El Salvador. The woman, Lorca, becomes a victim of human cruelty in the governments torture squad headquarters. The crime tortures the offender as much as the victim for years to come. Breaking Lorca is now available in stores.

Philosophers Café and Alumni Association plan to hold many upcoming events that will take place early next year.

  • Stephen Isabirye

    Talking of Enid Blyton, I am glad to inform you that I have just published a book on her titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (

    Stephen Isabirye

  • Emily Acheson

    That’s awesome. Giles Blunt spoke highly of her. How did you publish your book? Was it through school?