Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series continues to get better as I binge my way through the collection. The detail and bucolic nature of the pieces invite me to keep reading, as though I have developed an addiction for all that is Gamache. Chief Inspector Gamache accompanies his wife, Reine-Marie, to their annual retreat for a chance to recharge. Upon arrival at Manoir Bellechasse, the Gamaches learn that they will not have the solitude to which they are accustomed, as a family reunion brings much excitement and fills the rest of the rooms. It is only with the arrival of Peter and Clara Morrow—residents of Three Pines—that the Gamaches feel a connection to this larger group. The Finneys/Morrows are textbook dysfunctional, from their treatment of one another through to the odd way in which one of the children is kept isolated from others. As part of their reunion festivities, a large sculpture of the long deceased family patriarch is unveiled, which only adds to the tension. After a significant storm, the body of Julia Martin is found under the sculpture, though it is not entirely clear what might have happened. While many would expect Peter and his family to react, none are overly shocked or doubled by the event, soon deemed a murder. Gamache alerts his fellow members of the Homicide squad with the Sûreté du Québec, turning this quiet community into a hive of action. As the squad tries to peel back the layers on this odd family dynamic, they learn some of the core issues that have simmered below the surface for decades. Even Gamache is not immune to being roped in, as his own family has ties to the brood, in the most obscure way. With a killer surely amongst the group, it is not simply trying to find a motive strong enough to murder, but choosing which of many is most likely. Penny keeps the reader highly entertained throughout in yet another Canadian police procedural. Highly recommended for the reader who likes ‘quaint’, yet intense, mysteries full of Canadiana.
Louise Penny makes a reader’s full commitment to the stories and characters quite easy. The Eastern Townships prove an effective setting to promote a unique set of stories that are easily differentiated from much that is on the market at present. There does not seem to be an end to Armand Gamache’s development as the series protagonist, while not trying to do too much in short order. Penny releases some essential backstory again in this piece, balancing his ever-evolving relationship with Reine-Marie against some tidbits about his parents, who were killed when he was just a child. This personalisation by Penny will likely prove highly important, as the series reader will want to know as much as possible in order to fill much of the as yet unknown early years in Gamache’s life. Penny touches on some of the Homicide squad, as they continue to appear in the series. While I have not mentioned him before, Jean Guy Beauvoir, the second in command, continues to show shards of his personality. Closed off and highly judgmental, Beauvoir is the polar opposite to Gamache, though is able to extract needed information to help secure an arrest. With this group log suspects, Beauvoir may need to pull out all the stops, just to make sense of things. Without a full cast of Three Pines residents, it is the Finneys and Morrows who provide much entertainment and the odd cringing moment as the narrative progresses. The story moves at a decent pace, through by no means the best of the series to date. Penny keeps the reader in the middle of the investigation, though there are many layers through which one must penetrate to find how the victim and killer reached their climax. I love all the Canadian references, something that many non-Canadians may not find as alluring. Their placement makes me feel at ease and I hope others will enjoy them—eh?! Bring on more Penny and keep them coming, if you please!
Kudos, Madam Penny, for intriguing me greatly yet again. I cannot stop reading these books, a sure sign of being fully ensconced in the series.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons