(Image from Barnes & Noble)
"What killed people wasn't a bullet, a blade, a fist to the face. What killed people was a feeling. left too long. Sometimes in the cold, frozen. Sometimes buried and fetid. And sometimes on the shores of a lake, isolated, left to grow old, and odd." (163)
(Note: Although this review will not contain spoilers for A Rule Against Murder, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from earlier Armand Gamache mysteries. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)
In the middle of a long, hot summer, Armand Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie, retire to a luxurious auberge to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary. The amiable couple always enjoys their annual vacation at Mainoir Bellechasse, a venerable old B&B situated not far from the quaint village of Three Pines. This year, however, their peaceful visit is interrupted by the arrival of the Finneys, a wealthy, cultured clan at the Bellechasse for their yearly family reunion. From the start, the snooty group prove themselves catty, cruel and decidedly uncouth. The Gamaches are shocked by the Finneys' childish behavior; they're even more stunned to discover that one of their good friends from Three Pines is a Finney.
Things grow even more unpleasant when a Finney family member ends up dead in what appears to be a very strange accident. As Chief Inspector Gamache investigates the fatality, he comes to an even more unsettling conclusion: murder. The usual team is called in to help Gamache—as they poke around the crime scene, interview witnesses, and interrogate suspects, they will come to understand the disturbing inner workings of the Finney Family. Hostility runs deep among the dysfunctional group, but would one of them really go so far as to murder another? Or is the killer of a different bloodline entirely? Only the great Armand Gamache can sort out such a puzzling mystery.
As much as I love cozy Three Pines, a different setting makes A Rule Against Murder, the fourth book in Louise Penny's Armand Gamache series, feel unique. Thankfully, everything else about the novel remains the same, meaning that devoted readers will still get all they have come to expect from a Penny novel—deep, complex characters; an intriguing, twisty mystery; and warm, engaging storytelling. As an added bonus, A Rule Against Murder delves deeper into Armand Gamache's psyche, revealing more about his childhood and personality. All of which makes him an even more fascinating character. Gamache is a personal favorite of mine, one about whom I'll never tire of reading. In case you can't tell, I'm continuing to love this series. I can't wait to see what Gamache & Co. get up to in their next adventure.
(Readalikes: Other books in the Armand Gamache series, including Still Life; A Fatal Grace; The Cruelest Month; The Brutal Telling; Bury Your Dead; The Hangman; A Trick of the Light; The Beautiful Mystery; How the Light Gets In; The Long Way Home; The Nature of the Beast; and A Great Reckoning)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language and violence
To the FTC, with love: Another library