Forty Words for Sorrow

( 9 )

Overview

"When the badly decomposed body of thirteen-year-old Katie Pine is found in an abandoned mine shaft on the Chippewa Reserve, John Cardinal can take some small satisfaction in being proved right. It was Cardinal who'd kept the Pine case open, insisting she was no mere runaway, Cardinal who'd been demoted to the burglary squad for his excessive zeal." "Katie Pine isn't the only youngster to have gone missing in the rural town of Algonquin Bay, and Cardinal, brought back to the homicide division after the discovery of her body, is given the go-ahead ...
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Overview

"When the badly decomposed body of thirteen-year-old Katie Pine is found in an abandoned mine shaft on the Chippewa Reserve, John Cardinal can take some small satisfaction in being proved right. It was Cardinal who'd kept the Pine case open, insisting she was no mere runaway, Cardinal who'd been demoted to the burglary squad for his excessive zeal." "Katie Pine isn't the only youngster to have gone missing in the rural town of Algonquin Bay, and Cardinal, brought back to the homicide division after the discovery of her body, is given the go-ahead to reopen the files on three other lost kids. Then another youth is reported missing, and as Cardinal adds his name to the caseload, he begins to see a pattern that screams "serial killer." Meanwhile, the brass have partnered him with Lisa Delorme, newly shifted to Homicide from the Office of Special Investigations, and Cardinal can't help wondering whether she's been sent to keep tabs on him. A guilty conscience makes him think so."--BOOK JACKET.
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Editorial Reviews

Bookpage
...he populates his novel with vivid and complex characters....And, as far as villans go, they don't come much more evil than this.
Harper's Baazar
Blunt's chilly, gruesome tale gets into the fascinating minutiae of police work without ever losing its grasp on the human element.
Booklist
Blunt's handling of procedure...is masterful....A completely absorbing series debut...
Tony Hillerman
The highest praise a writer can give another is to say he wishes he had written his book. I wish I had written Forty Words for Sorrow. Giles Blunt has a tremendous talent. If you miss Forty Words for Sorrow, you'll miss one of best novels of 2001.
Jonathan Kellerman
40 Words for Sorrow is brilliant—one of the finest crime novels I've ever read. Giles Blunt writes with uncommon grace, style and compassion and he plots like a demon. This book has it all—unforgettable characters, beautiful language, throat-constricting suspense.
Lee Child
Intensely vivid characters, terrible crimes, and a brutal deep-frozen landscape all prove beyond a reasonable doubt that cold nurtures good and evil as readily as heat .. and that Giles Blunt is a really tremendous crime novelist.
Thomas Perry
Forty Words for Sorrow is a smart, superbly written novel which tests a likeable, fallible pair of investigators with some intriguing ethical questions as they use their considerable skills to solve a set of monstrous and disturbing crimes.
Jane Jakeman
Extraordinary for its psychology and tension. The market abounds with serial killer thrillers, which are mostly written by writers who people their lurid worlds with cardboard cutouts, and a book like this shows them up for what they are. Giles Blunt manages to inhabit the minds of killer, victim and investigator alike, a feat that very few writers can manage. It moves his work to a different level. Watch out, the Canadians are coming, in crime-writing now as well as in the conventional literary novel.
Quill and Quire
Forty Words for Sorrow satisfies right down to the marrow.
Globe and Mail
Blunt’s complex plot has history and a lot of nuance. His characters, particularly Cardinal, have the depth and resonance readers demand…don’t read it just because it’s a good crime novel and because once you’ve begun, you won’t put it down until you’re finished. Read it because it’s excellent.
National Post
This highly readable combination of mystery and suspense (with a sequel already in the works) raises the bar of Canadian crime writing and is a dead certain nomination for multiple writing awards.
Toronto Star
The clues unfold in convincing ways, with no impossible surprises, no flukey bits of luck to defy belief…the final pages present the sort of ending rare in crime fiction, one which compels readers to congratulate everybody in sight — themselves, the book’s characters and particularly the author, Giles Blunt.
Edmonton Sun
Giles Blunt creates a frosty world of hidden agendas, prejudices and murder in this fast paced and thought-provoking thriller…Forty Words for Sorrow is a wonderful mystery about human character with murder as the compass.
Mystery Review
Cardinal is not especially likeable (no one here is), but he is meatily complex enough to sustain a series. The several plots dovetail skillfully, red herrings and twists are well placed, the narrative has verve and humour.
Nugget (North Bay)
[A] riveting tale of twisted minds…Definitely, Blunt is a writer-craftsman. Unlike many crime novels where the plot moves so fast you don’t have time to recognize the poverty of text, Blunt’s writing ability is obvious from the start. He lives comfortably in the world of descriptive, but not overworked phrases and has the ability to weave the elements of the crime into the plot so successfully that one feels one is getting a history lesson, a criminology briefing and a good story all in one…[The characters] are people flawed enough to promise some twists, yet solid and believable enough to move into your neighbourhood of fictional favourites.
Library Journal
Detective John Cardinal, once of homicide, now of burglary, has just been reassigned back to homicide and partnered with Lisa Delorme, formerly a detective with the Special Investigations squad. Delorme is investigating Cardinal undercover while ostensibly working with him to locate five missing, possibly dead children and teens in Algonquin Bay, Canada. Convincing police detail and realistic depictions of a Canadian winter combine with a well-paced story and fleshed-out characters to create an enticing and intriguing tale. James Daniels combines tonal variations with changes in pitch to differentiate among the characters. His diction is clear, and his speech is paced to the story. Recommended for popular fiction collections and public libraries with a demand for mysteries set in Canada. Laurie Selwyn, San Antonio P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tiny Algonquin Bay, north of everything except snow, unfortunately has attracted some problems from big-city Toronto. Someone on the police force has been tipping off druglord/counterfeit credit-card kingpin Kyle Corbett about impending raids, and the brutalized body of Katie Pine, the first of three youngsters to go missing over the past year, has just been found embedded in a chunk of ice. Detective John Cardinal, who's eager to be reassigned to the Pine case, gets saddled with Lise Delorme, whose six years with the Office of Special Investigation never brought her any hands-on murder experience. In fact, she seems as keen on investigating him for the Corbett leaks as on helping with the kids' disappearances. While Lise is mounting a sting operation aimed at reeling in Cardinal for the Corbett infractions and the labs in Toronto are busy analyzing fingerprint and fiber evidence in the disappearances/murders, Keith London, a young tourist stopping in the area on his way west, vanishes, and the amiable, nonviolent town burglar is killed with animal ferocity. Dogged footwork leads Cardinal to an abandoned pump house—and a murderous confrontation—but it is Lise who must rescue him when he is gut-shot at his home days later by the distaff half of a serial-killer partnership. Polished, at times poetic but more frequently horrific, and especially moving in dealing with Cardinal's wife Catherine, hospitalized for depression. Former TV writer Blunt (Cold Eye, not reviewed) is a helluva storyteller, and his John Cardinal probably has a long career ahead of him.
From the Publisher
"Don’t read it just because it’s a good crime novel and because once you’ve begun, you won’t put it down until you’re finished. Read it because it’s excellent."
—Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail

"The final pages present the sort of ending rare in crime fiction, one which compels readers to congratulate everybody in sight — themselves, the book’s characters and particularly the author."
The Toronto Star

"Forty Words for Sorrow is the most horrifying horror story since Silence of the Lambs."
The Los Angeles Times

"I wish I’d written Forty Words for Sorrow."
—Tony Hillerman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425206928
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Series: John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Series , #1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 407,693
  • Product dimensions: 7.98 (w) x 5.18 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Giles Blunt is the author of Forty Words for Sorrow, hailed by Jonathan Kellerman as "one of the finest crime novels I've ever read" and by the Los Angeles Times as "the most horrifying story since The Silence of the Lambs."
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Read an Excerpt

It gets dark early in Algonquin Bay. Take a drive up Airport Hill at four o'clock on a February afternoon and when you come back half an hour later, the streets of the city will glitter below you in the dark like so many runways. The forty-sixth parallel may not be all that far north; you can be much further north and still be in the United States, and even London, England, is a few degrees closer to the North Pole. But this is Ontario, Canada, we're talking about, and Algonquin Bay in February is the very definition of winter: Algonquin Bay is snowbound, Algonquin Bay is quiet, Algonquin Bay is very, very cold.

John Cardinal was driving home from the airport where he had just watched his daughter, Kelly, board a plane bound for the United States by way of Toronto. The car still smelled of her-or at least of the scent that had lately become her trademark: Rhapsody or Ecstasy or some such. To Cardinal, wife gone and now daughter gone, it smelled of loneliness.

It was many degrees below zero outside; winter squeezed the car in its grip. The windows of the Camry were frosted up on both sides, and Cardinal had to keep scraping them with an ineffective plastic blade. He went south down Airport Hill, made a left onto the bypass, another left onto Trout Lake Road, and then he was heading north again toward home.

Home, if you could call it that with both Catherine and Kelly gone, was a tiny wooden house on Madonna Road, smallest among a crescent of cottages set like a brooch along the north shore of Trout Lake. Cardinal's house was fully winterized, or so the real estate agent had told them, but "winterized" had turned out to be a relative term. Kelly claimed you couldstore ice cream in her bedroom.

His drive was hidden by four-foot-high snowbanks, so Cardinal didn't see the car blocking his way until he almost rear-ended it. It was one of the unmarkeds from work, great pale clouds of exhaust blasting out from behind. Cardinal reversed and parked across the road. Lise Delorme, the Algonquin Bay police department's entire Office of Special Investigations, got out of the unmarked and waded through the exhaust toward him.

The department, despite "great strides toward employment equity," as the bureaucrats liked to phrase it, was still a bastion of male chauvinism, and the general consensus around the place was that Lise Delorme was too-well, too something-for her job. You're at work, you're trying to think, you don't need the distraction. Not that Delorme looked like a movie star; she didn't. But there was something about the way she looked at you, McLeod liked to say-and for once McLeod was right. Delorme had a disturbing tendency to hold your gaze just a little too long, just a split second too long, with those earnest brown eyes. It was as if she'd slipped her hand inside your shirt.

In short, Delorme was a terrible thing to do to a married man. And Cardinal had other reasons to fear her.

"I was about to give up," she said. Her French Canadian accent was unpredictable: one hardly noticed it most of the time, but then final consonants would disappear and sentences would sprout double subjects. "I tried to phone you, but there was no answer, and your machine, it's not working."

"I switched it off," Cardinal said. "What the hell are you doing here, anyway?"

"Dyson told me to come get you. They've found a body."

"Got nothing to do with me. I don't work homicides, remember?" Cardinal was trying to be merely factual, but even he could hear the bitterness in his voice. "You mind letting me through, Sergeant?" The "Sergeant" was just to nettle her. Two detectives of equal rank would normally address each other by name, except in the presence of the public or around junior officers.

Delorme was standing between her car and the snowbank. She stepped aside so Cardinal could get to his garage door.

"Well Dyson, I think he wants you back."

"I don't care. You mind backing out now, so I can plug my car in? I mean, if that's okay with Dyson. Why's he sending you, anyway? Since when are you working homicides?"

"You must have heard I quit Special."

"No, I heard you wanted to quit Special."

"It's official now. Dyson says you'll show me the ropes."

"No, thanks. I'm not interested. Who's working Special?"

"He's not here yet. Some guy from Toronto."

"Fine," Cardinal said. "Doesn't make the slightest difference. You gonna get lost now? It's cold, I'm tired, and I'd kind of like to eat my supper."

"They think it could be Katie Pine." Delorme scanned his face while Cardinal took this in, those solemn brown eyes watching his reaction.

Cardinal looked away, staring out into the blackness that was Trout Lake. In the distance the headlights of two snowmobiles moved in tandem across the dark. Katie Pine. Thirteen years old. Missing since September 12; he would never forget that date. Katie Pine, a good student, a math whiz from the Chippewa Reserve, a girl whom he had never met, whom he had wanted more than anything to find.

The phone began to ring inside the house, and Delorme looked at her watch. "That's Dyson. He only gave me one hour."

Cardinal went inside. He didn't invite Delorme. He picked up the phone on the fourth ring and heard Detective Sergeant Don Dyson going on at him in his chilly quack of a voice as if they had been separated in the middle of an argument and were only now, three months later, resuming it. In a way, that was true.

"Let's not waste time going over old ground," Dyson said. "You want me to apologize, I apologize. There. Done. We got a body out on the Manitou Islands, and McLeod is tied up in court. Up to his ears in Corriveau. Case is yours."

Cardinal felt the old anger burning its way into his veins. I may be a bad cop, he told himself, but not for the reasons Dyson thinks. "You took me off homicide, remember? I was strictly robbery and burglary material, in your book."

"I changed your case assignments, it's what a detective sergeant does, remember? Ancient history, Cardinal. Water under the bridge. We'll talk about it after you see the body."

"'She's a runaway,' you said. 'Katie Pine is not a homicide, she's a runaway. Got a history of it.'"

"Cardinal, you're back on homicide, all right? It's your investigation. Your whole stinking show. Not that it has to be Katie Pine, of course. Even you, Detective Has-To-Be-Right, might want to keep an open mind about identifying bodies you haven't seen. But if you want to play I Told You So, Cardinal, you just come into my office tomorrow morning, eight o'clock. Best thing about my job is I don't have to go out at night, and these calls always come at night."

"It's my show as of this moment - if I go."

"That's not my decision, Cardinal, and you know it. Lake Nipissing falls under the jurisdiction of our esteemed brothers and sisters in the Ontario Provincial Police. But even if it's the OPP's catch, they're going to want us in on it. If it is Katie Pine or Billy LaBelle, they were both snatched from the city-our city-assuming they were both snatched. It's our case either way. 'If I go,' he says."

"I'd rather stick with burglaries, unless it's my show as of this moment."

"Have the coroner toss a coin," Dyson snapped, and hung up.

Cardinal yelled to Delorme, who had stepped in out of the cold and was standing diffidently just inside the kitchen door. "Which one of the Manitous are we on?"

"Windigo. The one with the mine shaft."

"So we drive, right? Will the ice take a truck?"

"You kidding? This time of year, that ice would take a freight train." Delorme jerked a mittened thumb in the direction of Lake Nipissing. "Make sure you dress warm," she said. "That lake wind, it's cold as hell."



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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

It gets dark early in Algonquin Bay. Take a drive up Airport Hill at four o'clock on a February afternoon and when you come back half an hour later, the streets of the city will glitter below you in the dark like so many runways. The forty-sixth parallel may not be all that far north; you can be much further north and still be in the United States, and even London, England, is a few degrees closer to the North Pole. But this is Ontario, Canada, we're talking about, and Algonquin Bay in February is the very definition of winter: Algonquin Bay is snowbound, Algonquin Bay is quiet, Algonquin Bay is very, very cold.

John Cardinal was driving home from the airport where he had just watched his daughter, Kelly, board a plane bound for the United States by way of Toronto. The car still smelled of her-or at least of the scent that had lately become her trademark: Rhapsody or Ecstasy or some such. To Cardinal, wife gone and now daughter gone, it smelled of loneliness.

It was many degrees below zero outside; winter squeezed the car in its grip. The windows of the Camry were frosted up on both sides, and Cardinal had to keep scraping them with an ineffective plastic blade. He went south down Airport Hill, made a left onto the bypass, another left onto Trout Lake Road, and then he was heading north again toward home.

Home, if you could call it that with both Catherine and Kelly gone, was a tiny wooden house on Madonna Road, smallest among a crescent of cottages set like a brooch along the north shore of Trout Lake. Cardinal's house was fully winterized, or so the real estate agent had told them, but "winterized" had turned out to be a relative term. Kelly claimed you couldstore ice cream in her bedroom.

His drive was hidden by four-foot-high snowbanks, so Cardinal didn't see the car blocking his way until he almost rear-ended it. It was one of the unmarkeds from work, great pale clouds of exhaust blasting out from behind. Cardinal reversed and parked across the road. Lise Delorme, the Algonquin Bay police department's entire Office of Special Investigations, got out of the unmarked and waded through the exhaust toward him.

The department, despite "great strides toward employment equity," as the bureaucrats liked to phrase it, was still a bastion of male chauvinism, and the general consensus around the place was that Lise Delorme was too-well, too something-for her job. You're at work, you're trying to think, you don't need the distraction. Not that Delorme looked like a movie star; she didn't. But there was something about the way she looked at you, McLeod liked to say-and for once McLeod was right. Delorme had a disturbing tendency to hold your gaze just a little too long, just a split second too long, with those earnest brown eyes. It was as if she'd slipped her hand inside your shirt.

In short, Delorme was a terrible thing to do to a married man. And Cardinal had other reasons to fear her.

"I was about to give up," she said. Her French Canadian accent was unpredictable: one hardly noticed it most of the time, but then final consonants would disappear and sentences would sprout double subjects. "I tried to phone you, but there was no answer, and your machine, it's not working."

"I switched it off," Cardinal said. "What the hell are you doing here, anyway?"

"Dyson told me to come get you. They've found a body."

"Got nothing to do with me. I don't work homicides, remember?" Cardinal was trying to be merely factual, but even he could hear the bitterness in his voice. "You mind letting me through, Sergeant?" The "Sergeant" was just to nettle her. Two detectives of equal rank would normally address each other by name, except in the presence of the public or around junior officers.

Delorme was standing between her car and the snowbank. She stepped aside so Cardinal could get to his garage door.

"Well Dyson, I think he wants you back."

"I don't care. You mind backing out now, so I can plug my car in? I mean, if that's okay with Dyson. Why's he sending you, anyway? Since when are you working homicides?"

"You must have heard I quit Special."

"No, I heard you wanted to quit Special."

"It's official now. Dyson says you'll show me the ropes."

"No, thanks. I'm not interested. Who's working Special?"

"He's not here yet. Some guy from Toronto."

"Fine," Cardinal said. "Doesn't make the slightest difference. You gonna get lost now? It's cold, I'm tired, and I'd kind of like to eat my supper."

"They think it could be Katie Pine." Delorme scanned his face while Cardinal took this in, those solemn brown eyes watching his reaction.

Cardinal looked away, staring out into the blackness that was Trout Lake. In the distance the headlights of two snowmobiles moved in tandem across the dark. Katie Pine. Thirteen years old. Missing since September 12; he would never forget that date. Katie Pine, a good student, a math whiz from the Chippewa Reserve, a girl whom he had never met, whom he had wanted more than anything to find.

The phone began to ring inside the house, and Delorme looked at her watch. "That's Dyson. He only gave me one hour."

Cardinal went inside. He didn't invite Delorme. He picked up the phone on the fourth ring and heard Detective Sergeant Don Dyson going on at him in his chilly quack of a voice as if they had been separated in the middle of an argument and were only now, three months later, resuming it. In a way, that was true.

"Let's not waste time going over old ground," Dyson said. "You want me to apologize, I apologize. There. Done. We got a body out on the Manitou Islands, and McLeod is tied up in court. Up to his ears in Corriveau. Case is yours."

Cardinal felt the old anger burning its way into his veins. I may be a bad cop, he told himself, but not for the reasons Dyson thinks. "You took me off homicide, remember? I was strictly robbery and burglary material, in your book."

"I changed your case assignments, it's what a detective sergeant does, remember? Ancient history, Cardinal. Water under the bridge. We'll talk about it after you see the body."

"'She's a runaway,' you said. 'Katie Pine is not a homicide, she's a runaway. Got a history of it.'"

"Cardinal, you're back on homicide, all right? It's your investigation. Your whole stinking show. Not that it has to be Katie Pine, of course. Even you, Detective Has-To-Be-Right, might want to keep an open mind about identifying bodies you haven't seen. But if you want to play I Told You So, Cardinal, you just come into my office tomorrow morning, eight o'clock. Best thing about my job is I don't have to go out at night, and these calls always come at night."

"It's my show as of this moment—if I go."

"That's not my decision, Cardinal, and you know it. Lake Nipissing falls under the jurisdiction of our esteemed brothers and sisters in the Ontario Provincial Police. But even if it's the OPP's catch, they're going to want us in on it. If it is Katie Pine or Billy LaBelle, they were both snatched from the city-our city-assuming they were both snatched. It's our case either way. 'If I go,' he says."

"I'd rather stick with burglaries, unless it's my show as of this moment."

"Have the coroner toss a coin," Dyson snapped, and hung up.

Cardinal yelled to Delorme, who had stepped in out of the cold and was standing diffidently just inside the kitchen door. "Which one of the Manitous are we on?"

"Windigo. The one with the mine shaft."

"So we drive, right? Will the ice take a truck?"

"You kidding? This time of year, that ice would take a freight train." Delorme jerked a mittened thumb in the direction of Lake Nipissing. "Make sure you dress warm," she said. "That lake wind, it's cold as hell."
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 12, 2009

    Simple but recommended nonetheless

    A simple style, nothing to tax one's brain, but nice.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2009

    stellar

    This book is fabulous. Within reading the first few pages, I was hooked. This is the first in the series of Detective John Cardinal. He and his partner Lise make a great team. John is an exceptional character. He is dedicated to his wife Catherine, who is suffering mental illness, while focusing on his job.

    I have purchased the next three books in the series. Been looking for a detective series and this is the one!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2004

    great book

    i thought that forty words for sorrow was a great book that keeps you guessiing to the end. the main character, John cardial cared very much about his family adn would do anything for them, even if it could possibly put his job in danger. He took his murder cases to heart and would not give up until the murderers were found and the families the victims could go to sleep at night. Giles blunt intertwines different stories into his one book which keeps you thinking throughout the book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    refreshing Canadian police procedural

    Near Algonquin Bay, Canada, Katie Pine and Todd Curry vanish into thin air at different times. Detective John Cardinal felt that the same person killed both missing people. His efforts to persuade his superior that a killer is on the loose fail. Frustrated with John¿s insistence that the teens are not runaways but victims, the brass transfers him to burglary until someone finds the remains of Pine. <P> Returned to homicide, John partners with Lise Delorme, formerly of Special Investigations. John is aware that Lise is investigating him due to the extraordinary sum of money he is spending on his home and his daughter¿s education at Yale. Neither speaks of the side investigation, preferring to concentrate on the murders. When a third youth disappears, both cops conclude a serial killer is the culprit, but the clues lead nowhere. <P>FORTY WORDS FOR SORROW is a fascinating character study that drives the investigation. Giles Blunt concentrates on his cast and their interactions especially John and Lise. Through the looking glass of the lead officers, readers observe the action in a more cerebral manner than usual. Thus, this work turns into a refreshing Canadian police procedural with a radically different approach to the entertaining story line. <P>Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 4, 2011

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    Posted March 24, 2009

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    Posted December 26, 2010

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    Posted November 7, 2010

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    Posted October 20, 2012

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