I have listened to three books by Louise Penny in the Armand Gamache series. First I read How the Light Gets In (the last in the series) and then read the first. Now that I have read two more, I decided to write about the remainder of the series on this post as I read them rather than writing a new post for each book.
The Cruelest Month. The old Hadley house continues to be a site of the horror. A beautiful and popular member of the community not previously introduced appeared to die of fright at a seance there. Of course it turns out she was murdered and there were numerous plausible suspects.
Several notable developments occur among the villagers. Ruth acquires her duck Rosa and the complications of Peter and Clara’s connection begin to show up. The overarching storyline of Gamache’s struggles with the corruption of the Quebec Sûreté have significant development in this book. I wondered if that plotline really held together if you looked closely.
As always the characters are described eating wonderful food and being kind and funny to each other. The series continues to be fun to listen to.
A Rule Against Murder. I listened to this one over the course of several weeks and finished on April 19.
This one was set at a resort called Manoir Bellechasse that is just across the mountains from Three Pines. Gamache and his wife are there to celebrate their wedding anniversary when a large rich and grumpy family (all adults except for one 10-year-old) arrive for their reunion. After several days of their extravagant meanness to one another and everyone in their hearing, the remaining son and his wife arrive and it turns out to be Peter and Claire.
Manoir Bellechasse may be out in the boondocks, but it does have a great cook and thus we hear about wonderful food served to these undeserving boors. There are a couple of quick trips to Three Pines and Rosa is in place, following Ruth around.
There is no mention of the storyline of Gamache’s troubles with the Quebec Sûreté, a pleasant relief for me. I did like the unfolding of the murder and finding the murderer in this one — very imaginative.
The Brutal Telling. I finished this one on June 11 and sad I am it’s over.
SPOILER ALERT! I wouldn’t reveal the killer in a mystery story under most circumstances, but this one befuddles me and I just need to record it.
The old Hadley house turns up again! This time a couple and the man’s mother have bought it to create an inn and spa. A hermit who had been living in a cabin on the Hadley property was killed and found to have a cabinful of priceless glassware, first editions, dishware, and more. The body was first deposited at the Hadley house, then moved to Olivier and Gabri’s B&B. Well, it turns out that Olivier amassed a fortune from the hermit and then killed him before the cabin was detected, as it would have been in the course of creation of bridle trails for the new inn and spa. I found this quite confusing as Olivier is very much present in How the Light Gets In. So I look forward to the resolution of this question. Also Ruth selflessly sends Rosa off with her fellow ducks, something I vaguely remember happening in How the Light Gets In.
As always, this was a real pleasure and the food descriptions made me hungry as usual.
Bury Your Dead. I listened to this one while I had the misfortune of traveling while sick. I spent several long spells resting, falling asleep, being half asleep, listening to this book from beginning to end and over again. Eventually I heard the whole thing and got the picture. While it was dreadful being sick, this book was an amazing comfort to me. This one has two investigations to solve along with the overarching storyline of the treacherous Quebec Sûreté making itself felt. Gamache is recovering from a terrible wound with his old colleague who lives in Quebec. The murder takes place in the Literary and Historical Society, an old organization of English speakers. It involves revelations about Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec who had lived 400 years ago. The other investigation, carried out by the beloved lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir in Three Pines revisits the murder conviction of Olivier (see post above for The Brutal Telling). Of course, Olivier is innocent.
A Trick of the Light. Once again I listened to this while traveling, and like last time, to Iowa, but this time I was not sick! In this one Clara has her first show and her art is praised by Le Monde and The New York Times. After the vernissage (private preview before the opening) in Montreal, there was a party back in Three Pines. The next morning Clara’s childhood friend who became an enemy turned up dead in the garden. The dead woman was coming to the party to apologize to Clara as part of her 12 step program. Much is written about alcoholics, AA, and whether people can change. A few other points: Olivier hasn’t forgiven Gamache. Jean-Guy is taking too many pain pills, discovers he is angry at Gamache for leaving him during the terrible shootout in the old factory and finds he is in love with Gamache’s daughter. Clara kicks the weak and treacherous Peter out.
A Beautiful Mystery. Listened in May, 2017. While I missed the old friends from Three Pines (and their wonderful cooking), it was fun to read about a new setting. This one was set in an extremely remote location, a monastery called Saint Gilbert entre les loups. These monks were chosen for their singing voices and made enough money selling a cd of their Gregorian chants to make great improvements to the monastery. It was the choirmaster who was murdered. Solving the crime involves learning all about each of these men and what they do to live together in this community that has been in this location for 400 years. The first Gilbertines to arrive were escaping the Inquisition and one of the best moments of the book was the arrival of a Dominican from Rome. Everyone was sure he was representing the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and someone gasped “Hounds of the Lord” when he arrived.
The evil Francoeur flew in with the aim of separating Beauvoir from Gamache, setting up the culmination of Gamache’s struggle with the Quebec Sûreté that occurs in How the Light Gets In.
The Long Way Home. It seems to me that Sheldon warned me that this one wasn’t very good. This is the first one after the end of the big fight with the Quebec Sûreté and the Gamaches are living in Three Pines where he’s recovering from the physical and psychological wounds. The usual slow pace was fine with the good old references to Ruth and Rosa, good food, and Henri. But it seemed then to become quite repetitive. The mystery involved Peter who had been kicked out by Claire but was to come back in a year to consider their connection. When he didn’t appear, Claire told Gamache and a search began. I listened to it while I was traveling to DC and fell asleep. When I woke, the speculation about what had happened was the same conversation that had occurred at least once before. July 2018.