Monday, April 18, 2016

Masterful Canadian Mystery Series Gives Me All the Feels

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for Bury Your Dead, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from earlier Armand Gamache mysteries.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

Haunted by his role in a recent investigation gone horribly wrong, Armand Gamache retreats to QuĂ©bec City for a much needed respite.  Though his face has been splashed all over the news of late, he's hoping to keep a low profile while he licks his wounds.  But, he is not the only visitor to the historic, walled city.  Despite the bone-chilling winter temperatures, a crowd of tourists is in town for the annual Winter Carnival.  While he enjoys seeing the faces of delighted revelers, Gamache wants no part in the festivities.  He desires only to be left alone with the memories that haunt his mind, breaking his heart and wounding his soul over and over again.

Gamache finds solace in the peaceful quiet of a forgotten library run by the Literary and Historical Society.  When a body is discovered in the building's basement, the chief inspector's days of tranquil study come to an abrupt end.  Local police are stumped by the murder of Augustin Renaud, an amateur archaeologist obsessed with finding the remains of Samuel de Champlain; reluctantly, Gamache agrees to help with the investigation.  As he searches for clues in QuĂ©bec City's history, culture, and political climate, he makes startling realizations that reveal enough motives and suspects to keep him busy.  In the meantime, Gamache dispatches Jean-Guy Beauvoir to quietly re-open the investigation into a murder that occurred several months earlier in Three Pines.  Although Olivier BrulĂ© has been deemed responsible, his partner, Gabri, refuses to believe it.  He's been writing Gamache daily letters begging him to find the real killer.  Jean-Guy is attempting to do just that, but will there be anything to find?  Or will further inquiries only confirm that Olivier deserves to be exactly where he is—behind bars?

As Louise Penny masterfully oscillates between the two stories, the tension mounts for both police officers.  Will they find the killers for whom they are searching before they become targets themselves?  Can Gamache exorcise his demons enough to move on?  Or has the most revered cop in QuĂ©bec reached the end of his professional rope?

Although I adore the village of Three Pines, I'm always intrigued when Penny sets one of her Armand Gamache mysteries outside the town.  And what setting could be more fascinating than QuĂ©bec City?  I'd never heard of the place before, but Penny brings it to such vivid life in Bury Your Dead that I felt as if I'd walked its streets before.  Everything about the old fortress intrigued me.  The mystery at the center of the novel is similarly compelling.  Like all the books in this series, Bury Your Dead combines a colorful setting, a cast of complex characters, and a gripping mystery to create an engrossing detective story that will keep readers guessing.  Penny, as I've mentioned before, isn't afraid to toy with the emotions of her dedicated fans.  The resolution in Three Pines satisfied, but it also made me sad.  Despite the bruising I've taken from The Brutal Telling especially, I'm more dedicated than ever to this series with its trademark warmth and humor.  If you haven't "met" Chief Inspector Armand Gamche yet, introduce yourself, will you?  You won't regret it.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other books in the Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny, including Still Life; A Fatal Grace; The Cruelest Month; A Rule Against Murder; The Brutal Telling; The Hangman [novella]; 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)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a handful of F-bombs plus milder expletives) and violence

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

3 comments:

  1. I'm hesitant to get into this kind of series. The kind with countless books and no end in sight. I am intrigued though. You make them sound so good.

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  2. This is a series an author I have had on my radar for years. I have no idea why I haven't picked them up but sounds like I should try to get to them sooner rather than later. Great review!

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  3. This is my favorite in the series - I feel like she really hit her stride and each one gets better.

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