Monday, November 15, 2010

BURY YOUR DEAD by Louise Penny (2010) Sphere

If you haven't found your way to the Three Pines mysteries by Louise Penny, you should. I've read all of them and find myself welcomed back to the fold each time by the familiar warmth and intelligence of Detective Armand Gamache and the antics of the charismatic locals: artists Peter and Clara Morrow; psychologist-turned-bookseller Myrna; cranky, but gifted, poet Ruth; bistro patrons and partners, Gabri and Olivier.

BURY YOUR DEAD relies partially on the fallout of a curious murder in the previous novel THE BRUTAL TELLING (the 5th in the series, recently named the 2010 Anthony Award winner for the best crime novel in the US) where Olivier has been arrested and convicted of killing the enigmatic Hermit. Gamache has doubts about this conviction, and, as a man of conscience, he sends his 2 I.C., Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, back to the sleepy hamlet to investigate further.

In the recent past there is a moment that personally haunts Gamache, one that leads him to take a temporary leave of absence from the work that he so loves and we learn in an intentionally suspenseful way throughout this narrative what actually happened to break him.

Ostensibly attempting to heal himself in the company of his mentor, the retired Chief Inspector, 80-year-old Emile Comeau who "knew the power, and length of time, Avec le temps, it takes to heal" Gamache heads to Quebec City for respite with his wife Reine-Marie and their adopted German shepherd Henri. There Gamache immerses himself in research about the Battle of the Plains of Abraham at the local library and when his wife returns to Montreal he has Emile introduce him to the members of the Societé Champlain. Gamache also ingratiates himself with the Anglo community that is the Literary and Historical Society and they turn to him for help when there is a grisly murder on their premises. A man has been brutally killed in one of the city's oldest buildings, a place where the English citizens of Quebec safeguard their version of history.

Penny knows her characters intimately and writes convincingly from their perspectives in all of her books, but it's in BURY YOUR DEAD that she fully realizes her narrative structural potential. This newest Inspector Gamache mystery will have you eagerly turning pages through its smart twists and turns to a completely satisfying conclusion.

Check out Louise Penny's website:


Steph said...

My boss and so many others here are huge Penny fans. Her books sell very well. We hosted her at Greenley's not too long ago and everyone just loves her. She's such a lovely person, very friendly and down-to-earth.

My boss says her latest is also her darkest. I haven't read any of them yet, but who knows...if I don't, they might fire me! :)

Janet said...

Read DEAD COLD first. It's one I've taught and the boys adored. And, it's set on Boxing Day. It's a lark. One of my former students appears as a suspect in THE MURDER STONE--he was the one who convinced me to read Louise Penny in the first place. She's visited RSGC many times to speak to the boys.

Lynne Perednia said...

I thought THE BRUTAL TELLING was the highlight of this remarkable series until BURY YOUR DEAD was published. The characters, their paths, Penny's sure hand at giving us deeper knowledge of them, it's all wonderful.

She deserves all the awards she's winning.