Bury Your Dead (Armand Gamache Series #6)

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Overview

It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society— where an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years ...

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Bury Your Dead (Armand Gamache Series #6)

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Overview

It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society— where an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

 

Although he is supposed to be on leave, Gamache cannot walk away from a crime that threatens to ignite long-smoldering tensions between the English and the French. Meanwhile, he is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. “It doesn't make sense,” Olivier’s partner writes every day. “He didn't do it, you know.” As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive the terrible event of his own past before he can bury his dead.

Winner of the 2010 Agatha Award for Best Novel
Winner of the 2011 Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is on leave, but unfortunately, nobody bothered to tell the criminals. When the intrepid sleuth arrives at Quebec City's Winter Carnival, he expects a soothing respite; instead, he is thrust into a homicide investigation focused on the city's hallowed Literary and Historical Society. As if one deadly conundrum is not enough, poor Gamache must also confront the unjust murder conviction of a beloved village bistro owner. As we have come to expect, Armand and author Louis Penny juggle case number one and case number two adroitly. A favorite series among veteran whodunit aficionados. Superlative reader reviews; now in paperback and NOOK Book.

Publishers Weekly
At the start of Agatha-winner Penny's moving and powerful sixth Chief Insp. Armand Gamache mystery (after 2009's The Brutal Telling), Gamache is recovering from a physical and emotional trauma, the exact nature of which isn't immediately disclosed, in Québec City. When the body of Augustin Renaud, an eccentric who'd spent his life searching for the burial site of Samuel de Champlain, Québec's founder, turns up in the basement of the Literary and Historical Society, Gamache reluctantly gets involved in the murder inquiry. Meanwhile, Gamache dispatches his longtime colleague, Insp. Jean Guy Beauvoir, to the quiet town of Three Pines to revisit the case supposedly resolved at the end of the previous book. Few writers in any genre can match Penny's ability to combine heartbreak and hope in the same scene. Increasingly ambitious in her plotting, she continues to create characters readers would want to meet in real life. 100,000 first printing. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“Ralph Cosham’s excellent narration of Louise Penny’s newest mystery demonstrates why a terrific narrator is an author’s best partner…My only quibble is that the Penny-Cosham team kept me listening past my bedtime.” - AudioFile magazine

“This sixth entry in Agatha and Anthony award-winning author Penny’s Armand Gamache series is among the best…The solution to both killings as well as the event that drew Gamache to Quebec in the first place are all slowly and expertly revealed.” – Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews

The sixth appearance of Armand Gamache, North America's most humane detective.

Chief Inspector Gamache of the Canadian Sûreté and his associate Jean Guy Beauvoir are slowly healing from a case that turned horribly bad. Gamache spends hours reading in Québec's Literary and Historical Society library. Beauvoir, at Gamache's instigation, reopens the Three Pines murder enquiry that sent B&B owner Olivier to prison. While Beauvoir quietly interrogates the gently eccentric residents of Three Pines (The Brutal Telling, 2009, etc.) to see whether anyone else had motive to kill a hermit for his antique treasures, happenstance lands Gamache in the middle of another murder case. Augustin Renaud, obsessed with finding the burial place of idolized Québec city founder Samuel de Champlain, lies dead in the library's basement. The riddles of who killed him and why force Gamache and his aging mentor Emile to examine 400 years of Québec history. As they delve for clues among the library's old journals and diaries, they focus ever more closely on the endless rancor between the French and the English.

Gamache's excruciating grief over a wrong decision, Beauvoir's softening toward the unconventional, a plot twist so unexpected it's chilling, and a description of Québec intriguing enough to make you book your next vacation there, all add up to a superior read. Bring on the awards.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312626907
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/2/2011
  • Series: Armand Gamache Series , #6
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 33,416
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Louise  Penny

LOUISE PENNY is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of ten Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has won numerous awards, including a CWA Dagger and the Agatha Award (five times) and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. She lives in a small village south of Montréal.

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Read an Excerpt

BURY YOUR DEAD (Chapter 1)

Up the stairs they raced, taking them two at a time, trying to be as quiet as possible. Gamache struggled to keep his breathing steady, as though he was sitting at home, as though he had not a care in the world.

Sir? came the young voice over Gamaches headphones.

You must believe me, son. Nothing bad will happen to you.

He hoped the young agent couldnt hear the strain in his voice, the flattening as the Chief Inspector fought to keep his voice authoritative, certain.

I believe you.

They reached the landing. Inspector Beauvoir stopped, staring at his Chief. Gamache looked at his watch.

47 seconds.

Still time.

In his headphones the agent was telling him about the sunshine and how good it felt on his face.

The rest of the team made the landing, tactical vests in place, automatic weapons drawn, eyes sharp. Trained on the Chief. Beside him Inspector Beauvoir was also waiting for a decision. Which way? They were close. Within feet of their quarry.

Gamache stared down one dark, dingy corridor in the abandoned factory then down the other.

They looked identical. Light scraped through the broken, grubby windows lining the halls and with it came the December day.

43 seconds.

He pointed decisively to the left and they ran, silently, toward the door at the end. As he ran Gamache gripped his rifle and spoke calmly into the headset.

Theres no need to worry.

Theres forty seconds left, sir. Each word was exhaled as though the man on the other end was having difficulty breathing.

Just listen to me, said Gamache, thrusting his hand toward a door. The team surged ahead.

36 seconds.

I wont let anything happen to you, said Gamache, his voice convincing, commanding, daring the young agent to contradict. Youll be having dinner with your family tonight.

Yes sir.

The tactical team surrounded the closed door with its frosted, filthy window. Darkened.

Gamache paused, staring at it, his hand hanging in the air ready to give the signal to break it down. To rescue his agent.

29 seconds.

Beside him Beauvoir strained, waiting to be loosed.

Too late, Chief Inspector Gamache realized hed made a mistake.

Give it time, Armand.

Avec le temps? Gamache returned the older mans smile and made a fist of his right hand. To stop the trembling. A tremble so slight he was certain the waitress in the Quebec City caf hadnt noticed. The two students across the way tapping on their laptops wouldnt notice. No one would notice.

Except someone very close to him.

He looked at mile Comeau, crumbling a flaky croissant with sure hands. He was nearing eighty now, Gamaches mentor and former chief. His hair was white and groomed, his eyes through his glasses a sharp blue. He was slender and energetic, even now. Though with each visit Armand Gamache noticed a slight softening about the face, a slight slowing of the movements.

Avec le temps.

Widowed five years, mile Comeau knew the power, and length, of time.

Gamaches own wife, Reine-Marie, had left at dawn that morning after spending a week with them at miles stone home within the old walled city of Qubec. Theyd had quiet dinners together in front of the fire, theyd walked the narrow snow-covered streets. Talked. Were silent. Read the papers, discussed events. The three of them. Four, if you counted their German shepherd, Henri.

And most days Gamache had gone off on his own to a local library, to read.

mile and Reine-Marie had given him that, recognizing that right now he needed society but he also needed solitude.

And then it was time for her to leave. After saying good-bye to mile she turned to her husband. Tall, solid, a man who preferred good books and long walks to any other activity, he looked more like a distinguished professor in his mid-fifties than the head of the most prestigious homicide unit in Canada. The Sret du Qubec. He walked her to her car, scraping the morning ice from the windshield.

You dont have to go, you know, he said, smiling down at her as they stood in the brittle, new day. Henri sat in a snow bank nearby and watched.

I know. But you and mile need time together. I could see how you were looking at each other.

The longing? laughed the Chief Inspector. Id hoped wed been more discreet.

A wife always knows. She smiled, looking into his deep brown eyes. He wore a hat, but still she could see his graying hair, and the slight curl where it came out from under the fabric. And his beard. Shed slowly become used to the beard. For years hed had a moustache, but just lately, since it happened, hed grown the trim beard.

She paused. Should she say it? It was never far from her mind now, from her mouth. The words she knew were useless, if any words could be described as that. Certainly she knew they could not make the thing happen. If they could she would surround him with them, encase him with her words.

Come home when you can, she said instead, her voice light.

He kissed her. I will. In a few days, a week at the most. Call me when you get there.

Daccord. She got into the car.

Je taime, he said, putting his gloved hand into the window to touch her shoulder.

Watch out, her mind screamed. Be safe. Come home with me. Be careful, be careful, be careful.

She put her own gloved hand over his. Je taime.

And then she was gone, back to Montreal, glancing in the rear-view mirror to see him standing on the deserted early morning street, Henri naturally at his side. Both watching her, until she disappeared.

The Chief Inspector continued to stare even after shed turned the corner. Then he picked up a shovel and slowly cleared the nights fluffy snowfall from the front steps. Resting for a moment, his arms crossed over the handle of the shovel, he marveled at the beauty as the first light hit the new snow. It looked more pale blue than white, and here and there it sparkled like tiny prisms where the flakes had drifted and collected, then caught, remade, and returned the light. Like something alive and giddy.

Life in the old walled city was like that. Both gentle and dynamic, ancient and vibrant.

Picking up a handful of snow, the Chief Inspector mashed it into a ball in his fist. Henri immediately stood, his tail going so hard his entire rear swayed. His eyes burning into the ball.

Gamache tossed it into the air and the dog leapt, his mouth closing over the snowball, and chomping down. Landing on all fours Henri was once again surprised that the thing that had been so solid had suddenly disappeared.

Gone, so quickly.

But next time would be different.

Gamache chuckled. He might be right.

Just then mile stepped out from his doorway, bundled in an immense winter coat against the biting February cold.

Ready? The elderly man clamped a toque onto his head, pulling it down so that it covered his ears and forehead, and put on thick mitts, like boxing gloves.

For what? A siege?

For breakfast, mon vieux. Come along, before someone gets the last croissant.

He knew how to motivate his former subordinate. Hardly pausing for Gamache to replace the shovel, mile headed off up the snowy street. Around them the other residents of Quebec City were waking up. Coming out into the tender morning light to shovel, to scrape the snow from their cars, to walk to the boulangerie for their morning baguette and caf.

The two men and Henri set out along rue St-Jean, past the restaurants and tourist shops, to a tiny side street called rue Couillard, and there they found Chez Temporel.

Theyd been coming to this caf for fifteen years, ever since Superintendent mile Comeau had retired to old Quebec City, and Gamache had come to visit, to spend time with his mentor, and to help with the little chores that piled up. Shoveling, stacking wood for the fireplace, sealing windows against drafts. But this visit was different. Like no other in all the winters Chief Inspector Gamache had been coming to Quebec City.

This time it was Gamache who needed help.

So, mile leaned back, cupping his bowl of caf au lait in slender hands. Hows the research going?

I cant yet find any references to Captain Cook actually meeting Bougainville before the Battle of Qubec, but it was 250 years ago. Records are scattered and werent well kept. But I know theyre in there, said Gamache. Its an amazing library, mile. The volumes go back centuries.

Comeau watched his companion talk about sifting through arcane books in a local library and the tidbits he was unearthing about a battle long ago fought, and lost. At least, from his point of view lost. Was there a spark in those beloved eyes at last? Those eyes hed stared into so often at the scenes of dreadful crimes as theyd hunted murderers. As theyd raced through woods and villages and fields, through clues and evidence and suspicions. Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, mile remembered the quote as he remembered those days. Yes, he thought, that described it. Chasmed fears. Both their own, and the murderers. Across tables across the province he and Gamache had sat. Just like this.

But now it was time to rest from murder. No more killing, no more deaths. Armand had seen too much of that lately. No, better to bury himself in history, in lives long past. An intellectual pursuit, nothing more.

Beside them Henri stirred and Gamache instinctively lowered his hand to stroke the shepherds head and reassure him. And once again mile noted the slight tremble. Barely there now. Stronger at times. Sometimes it disappeared completely. It was a tell-tale tremble, and mile knew the terrible tale it had to tell.

He wished he could take that hand and hold it steady and tell him it would be all right. Because it would, he knew.

With time.

Watching Armand Gamache he noticed again the jagged scar on his left temple and the trim beard hed grown. So that people would stop staring. So that people would not recognize the most recognizable police officer in Qubec.

But, of course, it didnt matter. It wasnt them Armand Gamache was hiding from.

The waitress at Chez Temporel arrived with more coffee.

Merci, Danielle, the two men said at once and she left, smiling at the two men who looked so different but seemed so similar.

They drank their coffees and ate pain au chocolat and croissants aux amandes and talked about the Carnaval de Qubec, starting that night. Occasionally theyd lapse into silence, watching the men and women hurrying along the icy cold street outside to their jobs. Someone had scratched a three-leaf clover into a slight indent in the center of their wooden table. mile rubbed it with his finger.

And wondered when Armand would want to talk about what happened.

It was ten thirty and the monthly board meeting of the Literary and Historical Society was about to start. For many years the meetings had been held in the evening, when the library was closed, but then it was noticed that fewer and fewer members were showing up.

So the Chairman, Porter Wilson, had changed the time. At least, he thought hed changed the time. At least, it had been reported in the board minutes that it had been his motion, though he privately seemed to remember arguing against it.

And yet, here they were meeting in the morning, and had been for some years. Still, the other members had adjusted, as had Porter. He had to, since it had apparently been his idea.

The fact the board had adjusted at all was a miracle. The last time theyd been asked to change anything it had been the worn leather on the Lit and His chairs, and that had been sixty-three years ago. Members still remembered fathers and mothers, grandparents, ranged on either side of the upholstered Mason-Dixon Line. Remembered vitriolic comments made behind closed doors, behind backs, but before children. Who didnt forget, sixty-three years later, that devious alteration from old black leather to new black leather.

Pulling out his chair at the head of the table Porter noticed it was looking worn. He sat quickly so that no one, least of all himself, could see it.

Small stacks of paper were neatly arranged in front of his and every other place, marching down the wooden table. Elizabeth MacWhirters doing. He examined Elizabeth. Plain, tall and slim. At least, she had been that when the world was young. Now she just looked freeze-dried. Like those ancient cadavers pulled from glaciers. Still obviously human, but withered and gray. Her dress was blue and practical and a very good cut and material, he suspected. After all, she was one of those MacWhirters. A venerable and moneyed family. One not given to displays of wealth, or brains. Her brother had sold the shipping empire about a decade too late. But there was still money there. She was a little dull, he thought, but responsible. Not a leader, not a visionary. Not the sort to hold a community in peril together. Like him. And his father before him. And his grandfather.

For the tiny English community within the walls of old Quebec City had been in peril for many generations. It was a kind of perpetual peril that sometimes got better and sometimes got worse, but never disappeared completely. Just like the English.

Porter Wilson had never fought a war, being just that much too young, and then too old. Not, anyway, an official war. But he and the other members of his board knew themselves to be in a battle nevertheless. And one, he secretly suspected, they were losing.

At the door Elizabeth MacWhirter greeted the other board members as they arrived and looked over at Porter Wilson already seated at the head of the table, reading over his notes.

Hed accomplished many things in his life, Elizabeth knew. The choir hed organized, the amateur theater, the wing for the nursing home. All built by force of will and personality. And all less than they might have been had he sought and accepted advice.

The very force of his personality both created and crippled. How much more could he have accomplished had he been kinder? But then, dynamism and kindness often didnt go together, though when they did they were unstoppable.

Porter was stoppable. Indeed, he stopped himself. And now the only board that could stand him was the Lit and His. Elizabeth had known Porter for seventy years, since shed seen him eating lunch alone, every day, at school and gone to keep him company. Porter decided she was sucking up to one of the great Wilson clan, and treated her with disdain.

Still, she kept him company. Not because she liked him but because she knew even then something it would take Porter Wilson decades to realize. The English of Quebec City were no longer the juggernauts, no longer the steamships, no longer the gracious passenger liners of the society and economy.

They were a life raft. Adrift. And you dont make war on others in the raft.

Elizabeth MacWhirter had figured that out. And when Porter rocked the boat, she righted it.

She looked at Porter Wilson and saw a small, energetic, touped man. His hair, where not imported, was dyed a shade of black the chairs would envy. His eyes were brown and darted about nervously.

Mr. Blake arrived first. The oldest board member, he practically lived at the Lit and His. He took off his coat, revealing his uniform of gray flannel suit, laundered white shirt, blue silk tie. He was always perfectly turned out. A gentleman, who managed to make Elizabeth feel young and beautiful. Shed had a crush on him when shed been an awkward teen and he in his dashing twenties.

Hed been attractive then and sixty years later he was still attractive, though his hair was thin and white and his once fine body had rounded and softened. But his eyes were smart and lively, and his heart was large and strong.

Elizabeth, Mr. Blake smiled and took her hand, holding it for a moment. Never too long, never too familiar. Just enough, so that she knew shed been held.

He took his seat. A seat, Elizabeth thought, that should be replaced. But then, honestly, so should Mr. Blake. So should they all.

What would happen when they died out and all that was left of the board of the Literary and Historical Society were worn, empty chairs?

Right, we need to make this fast. We have a practice in an hour.

Tom Hancock arrived, followed by Ken Haslam. The two were never far apart these days, being unlikely team members in the ridiculous upcoming race.

Tom was Elizabeths triumph. Her hope. And not simply because he was the minister of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church next door.

He was young and new to the community, having moved to Quebec City three years earlier. At thirty-three he was about half the age of the next youngest board member. Not yet cynical, not yet burned out. He still believed his church would find new parishioners, the English community would suddenly produce babies with the desire to stay in Quebec City. He believed the Qubec government when it promised job equality for Anglophones. And health care in their own language. And education. And nursing homes so that when all hope was lost, they might die with their mother tongue on caregivers lips.

Hed managed to inspire the board to believe maybe all wasnt lost. And even, maybe, this wasnt really a war. Wasnt some dreadful extension of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, one which the English lost this time. Elizabeth glanced up at the oddly petite statue of General James Wolfe. The martyred hero of the battle 250 years ago hovered over the library of the Literary and Historical Society, like a wooden accusation. To witness their petty battles and to remind them, in perpetuity, of the great battle hed fought, for them. Where hed died, but not before triumphing on that blood-soaked farmers field. Ending the war, and securing Qubec for the English. On paper.

And now from his corner of the lovely old library General Wolfe looked down on them. In every way, Elizabeth suspected.

So, Ken, Tom said, taking his place beside the older man. You in shape? Ready for the race?

Elizabeth didnt hear Ken Haslams response. But then she didnt expect to. Kens thin lips moved, words were formed, but never actually heard.

They all paused, thinking perhaps this was the day he would produce a word above a whisper. But they were wrong. Still, Tom Hancock continued to talk to Ken, as though they were actually having a conversation.

Elizabeth loved Tom for that as well. For not giving in to the notion that because Ken was quiet he was stupid. Elizabeth knew him to be anything but. In his mid-sixties he was the most successful of all of them, building a business of his own. And now, having achieved that Ken Haslam had done something else remarkable.

Hed signed up for the treacherous ice canoe race. Signed on to Tom Hancocks team. He would be the oldest member of the team, the oldest member of any team. Perhaps the oldest racer ever.

Watching Ken, quiet and calm and Tom, young, vital, handsome, Elizabeth wondered if maybe they understood each other very well after all. Perhaps both had things they werent saying.

Not for the first time Elizabeth wondered about Tom Hancock. Why hed chosen to minister to them, and why he stayed within the walls of old Quebec City. It took a certain personality, Elizabeth knew, to choose to live in what amounted to a fortress.

Right, lets start, said Porter, sitting up even straighter.

Winnie isnt here yet, said Elizabeth.

We cant wait.

Why not? Tom asked, his voice relaxed. But still Porter heard a challenge.

Because its already past ten thirty and youre the one who wanted to make this quick, Porter said, pleased at having scored a point.

Once again, thought Elizabeth, Porter managed to look at a friend and see a foe.

Quite right. Still, Im happy to wait, smiled Tom, unwilling to take to the field.

Well, Im not. First order of business?

They discussed the purchase of new books for a while before Winnie arrived. Small and energetic, she was fierce in her loyalty. To the English community, to the Lit and His, but mostly to her friend.

She marched in, gave Porter a withering look, and sat next to Elizabeth.

I see you started without me, she said to him. I told you Id be late.

You did, but that doesnt mean we had to wait. Were discussing new books to buy.

And it didnt occur to you this might be an issue best discussed with the librarian?

Well, youre here now.

The rest of the board watched this as though at Wimbledon, though with considerably less interest. It was pretty clear who had the balls, and who would win.

Fifty minutes later theyd almost reached the end of the agenda. There was one oatmeal cookie left, the members staring but too polite to take it. Theyd discussed the heating bills, the membership drive, the ratty old volumes left to them in wills, instead of money. The books were generally sermons, or lurid Victorian poetry, or the dreary daily diary of a trip up the Amazon or into Africa to shoot and stuff some poor wild creature.

They discussed having another sale of books, but after the last debacle that was a short discussion.

Elizabeth took notes and had to force herself not to lip-synch to each board members comments. It was a liturgy. Familiar, soothing in a strange way. The same words repeated over and over every meeting. For ever and ever. Amen.

A sound suddenly interrupted that comforting liturgy, a sound so unique and startling Porter almost jumped out of his chair.

What was that? whispered Ken Haslam. For him it was almost a shout.

Its the doorbell, I think, said Winnie.

The doorbell? asked Porter. I didnt know we had one.

Put in in 1897 after the Lieutenant Governor visited and couldnt get in, said Mr. Blake, as though hed been there. Never heard it myself.

But he heard it again. A long, shrill bell. Elizabeth had locked the front door to the Literary and Historical Society as soon as everyone had arrived. A precaution against being interrupted. Though since hardly anyone ever visited it was more habit than necessity. Shed also hung a sign on the thick wooden door. Board Meeting in Progress. Library will reopen at noon. Thank you. Merci.

The bell sounded again. Someone was leaning on it, finger jammed into the button.

Still they stared at each other.

Ill go, said Elizabeth.

Porter looked down at his papers, the better part of valor.

No, Winnie stood. Ill go. You all stay here.

They watched Winnie disappear down the corridor and heard her feet on the wooden stairs. There was silence. Then a minute later her feet on the stairs again.

They listened to the footsteps clicking and clacking closer. She arrived but stopped at the door, her face pale and serious.

Theres someone there. Someone who wants to speak to the board.

Well, demanded Porter, remembering he was their leader, now that the elderly woman had gone to the door. Who is it?

Augustin Renaud, she said and saw the looks on their faces. Had she said Dracula they could not have been more startled. Though, for the English, startled meant raised eyebrows.

Every eyebrow in the room was raised, and if General Wolfe could have managed it, he would have.

I left him outside, she said into the silence.

As if to underscore that the doorbell shrieked again.

What should we do? Winnie asked, but instead of turning to Porter she looked at Elizabeth. They all did.

We need to take a vote, Elizabeth said at last. Should we see him?

Hes not on the agenda, Mr. Blake pointed out.

Thats right, said Porter, trying to wrestle back control. But even he looked at Elizabeth.

Whos in favor of letting Augustin Renaud speak to the board? Elizabeth asked.

Not a hand was raised.

Elizabeth lowered her pen, not taking note of the vote. Giving one curt nod she stood. Ill tell him.

Ill go with you, said Winnie.

No, dear, you stay here. Ill be right back. I mean, really? She paused at the door, taking in the board and General Wolfe above. How bad could it be?

But they all knew the answer to that. When Augustin Renaud came calling it was never good.

BURY YOUR DEAD. Copyright 2010 by Three Pines Creations, Inc.

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First Chapter

Bury Your Dead

A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
By Louise Penny

Minotaur Books

Copyright © 2010 Louise Penny
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312377045

ONE
Up the stairs they raced, taking them two at a time, trying to be as quiet as possible. Gamache struggled to keep his breathing steady, as though he was sitting at home, as though he had not a care in the world.
“Sir?” came the young voice over Gamache’s headphones.
“You must believe me, son. Nothing bad will happen to you.”
He hoped the young agent couldn’t hear the strain in his voice, the flattening as the Chief Inspector fought to keep his voice authoritative, certain.
“I believe you.”
They reached the landing. Inspector Beauvoir stopped, staring at his Chief. Gamache looked at his watch.
47 seconds.
Still time.
In his headphones the agent was telling him about the sunshine and how good it felt on his face.
The rest of the team made the landing, tactical vests in place, automatic weapons drawn, eyes sharp. Trained on the Chief. Beside him Inspector Beauvoir was also waiting for a decision. Which way? They were close. Within feet of their quarry.
Gamache stared down one dark, dingy corridor in the abandoned factory then down the other.
They looked identical. Light scraped through the broken, grubby windows lining the halls and with it came the December day.
43 seconds.
He pointed decisively to the left and they ran, silently, toward the door at the end. As he ran Gamache gripped his rifle and spoke calmly into the headset.
“There’s no need to worry.”
“There’s forty seconds left, sir.” Each word was exhaled as though the man on the other end was having difficulty breathing.
“Just listen to me,” said Gamache, thrusting his hand toward a door. The team surged ahead.
36 seconds.
“I won’t let anything happen to you,” said Gamache, his voice convincing, commanding, daring the young agent to contradict. “You’ll be having dinner with your family tonight.”
“Yes sir.”
The tactical team surrounded the closed door with its frosted, filthy window. Darkened.
Gamache paused, staring at it, his hand hanging in the air ready to give the signal to break it down. To rescue his agent.
29 seconds.
Beside him Beauvoir strained, waiting to be loosed.
Too late, Chief Inspector Gamache realized he’d made a mistake.
“Give it time, Armand.”
“Avec le temps?” Gamache returned the older man’s smile and made a fist of his right hand. To stop the trembling. A tremble so slight he was certain the waitress in the Quebec City café hadn’t noticed. The two students across the way tapping on their laptops wouldn’t notice. No one would notice.
Except someone very close to him.
He looked at Émile Comeau, crumbling a flaky croissant with sure hands. He was nearing eighty now, Gamache’s mentor and former chief. His hair was white and groomed, his eyes through his glasses a sharp blue. He was slender and energetic, even now. Though with each visit Armand Gamache noticed a slight softening about the face, a slight slowing of the movements.
Avec le temps.
Widowed five years, Émile Comeau knew the power, and length, of time.
Gamache’s own wife, Reine-Marie, had left at dawn that morning after spending a week with them at Émile’s stone home within the old walled city of Québec. They’d had quiet dinners together in front of the fire, they’d walked the narrow snow-covered streets. Talked. Were silent. Read the papers, discussed events. The three of them. Four, if you counted their German shepherd, Henri.
And most days Gamache had gone off on his own to a local library, to read.
Émile and Reine-Marie had given him that, recognizing that right now he needed society but he also needed solitude.
And then it was time for her to leave. After saying good-bye to Émile she turned to her husband. Tall, solid, a man who preferred good books and long walks to any other activity, he looked more like a distinguished professor in his mid-fifties than the head of the most prestigious hom icide unit in Canada. The Sûreté du Québec. He walked her to her car, scraping the morning ice from the windshield.
“You don’t have to go, you know,” he said, smiling down at her as they stood in the brittle, new day. Henri sat in a snow bank nearby and watched.
“I know. But you and Émile need time together. I could see how you were looking at each other.”
“The longing?” laughed the Chief Inspector. “I’d hoped we’d been more discreet.”
“A wife always knows.” She smiled, looking into his deep brown eyes. He wore a hat, but still she could see his graying hair, and the slight curl where it came out from under the fabric. And his beard. She’d slowly become used to the beard. For years he’d had a moustache, but just lately, since it happened, he’d grown the trim beard.
She paused. Should she say it? It was never far from her mind now, from her mouth. The words she knew were useless, if any words could be described as that. Certainly she knew they could not make the thing happen. If they could she would surround him with them, encase him with her words.
“Come home when you can,” she said instead, her voice light.
He kissed her. “I will. In a few days, a week at the most. Call me when you get there.”
“D’accord.” She got into the car.
“Je t’aime,” he said, putting his gloved hand into the window to touch her shoulder.
Watch out, her mind screamed. Be safe. Come home with me. Be careful, be careful, be careful.
She put her own gloved hand over his. “Je t’aime.”
And then she was gone, back to Montreal, glancing in the rear-view mirror to see him standing on the deserted early morning street, Henri naturally at his side. Both watching her, until she disappeared.
The Chief Inspector continued to stare even after she’d turned the corner. Then he picked up a shovel and slowly cleared the night’s fluffy snowfall from the front steps. Resting for a moment, his arms crossed over the handle of the shovel, he marveled at the beauty as the first light hit the new snow. It looked more pale blue than white, and here and there it sparkled like tiny prisms where the flakes had drifted and collected, then caught, remade, and returned the light. Like something alive and giddy.
Life in the old walled city was like that. Both gentle and dynamic, ancient and vibrant.
Picking up a handful of snow, the Chief Inspector mashed it into a ball in his fist. Henri immediately stood, his tail going so hard his entire rear swayed. His eyes burning into the ball.
Gamache tossed it into the air and the dog leapt, his mouth closing over the snowball, and chomping down. Landing on all fours Henri was once again surprised that the thing that had been so solid had suddenly disappeared.
Gone, so quickly.
But next time would be different.
Gamache chuckled. He might be right.
Just then Émile stepped out from his doorway, bundled in an immense winter coat against the biting February cold.
“Ready?” The elderly man clamped a toque onto his head, pulling it down so that it covered his ears and forehead, and put on thick mitts, like boxing gloves.
“For what? A siege?”
“For breakfast, mon vieux. Come along, before someone gets the last croissant.”
He knew how to motivate his former subordinate. Hardly pausing for Gamache to replace the shovel, Émile headed off up the snowy street. Around them the other residents of Quebec City were waking up. Coming out into the tender morning light to shovel, to scrape the snow from their cars, to walk to the boulangerie for their morning baguette and café.
The two men and Henri set out along rue St-Jean, past the restaurants and tourist shops, to a tiny side street called rue Couillard, and there they found Chez Temporel.
They’d been coming to this café for fifteen years, ever since Superintendent Émile Comeau had retired to old Quebec City, and Gamache had come to visit, to spend time with his mentor, and to help with the little chores that piled up. Shoveling, stacking wood for the fire-place, sealing windows against drafts. But this visit was different. Like no other in all the winters Chief Inspector Gamache had been coming to Quebec City.
This time it was Gamache who needed help.
“So,” Émile leaned back, cupping his bowl of café au lait in slender hands. “How’s the research going?”
“I can’t yet find any references to Captain Cook actually meeting Bougainville before the Battle of Québec, but it was 250 years ago. Records are scattered and weren’t well kept. But I know they’re in there,” said Gamache. “It’s an amazing library, Émile. The volumes go back centuries.”
Comeau watched his companion talk about sifting through arcane books in a local library and the tidbits he was unearthing about a battle long ago fought, and lost. At least, from his point of view lost. Was there a spark in those beloved eyes at last? Those eyes he’d stared into so often at the scenes of dreadful crimes as they’d hunted murderers. As they’d raced through woods and villages and fields, through clues and evidence and suspicions. Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, Émile remembered the quote as he remembered those days. Yes, he thought, that described it. Chasmed fears. Both their own, and the murderers. Across tables across the province he and Gamache had sat. Just like this.
But now it was time to rest from murder. No more killing, no more deaths. Armand had seen too much of that lately. No, better to bury himself in history, in lives long past. An intellectual pursuit, nothing more.
Beside them Henri stirred and Gamache instinctively lowered his hand to stroke the shepherd’s head and reassure him. And once again Émile noted the slight tremble. Barely there now. Stronger at times. Sometimes it disappeared completely. It was a tell-tale tremble, and Émile knew the terrible tale it had to tell.
He wished he could take that hand and hold it steady and tell him it would be all right. Because it would, he knew.
With time.
Watching Armand Gamache he noticed again the jagged scar on his left temple and the trim beard he’d grown. So that people would stop staring. So that people would not recognize the most recognizable police officer in Québec.
But, of course, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t them Armand Gamache was hiding from.
The waitress at Chez Temporel arrived with more coffee.
“Merci, Danielle,” the two men said at once and she left, smiling at the two men who looked so different but seemed so similar.
They drank their coffees and ate pain au chocolat and croissants aux amandes and talked about the Carnaval de Québec, starting that night. Occasionally they’d lapse into silence, watching the men and women hurrying along the icy cold street outside to their jobs. Someone had scratched a three-leaf clover into a slight indent in the center of their wooden table. Émile rubbed it with his finger.
And wondered when Armand would want to talk about what happened.
It was ten thirty and the monthly board meeting of the Literary and Historical Society was about to start. For many years the meetings had been held in the evening, when the library was closed, but then it was noticed that fewer and fewer members were showing up.
So the Chairman, Porter Wilson, had changed the time. At least, he thought he’d changed the time. At least, it had been reported in the board minutes that it had been his motion, though he privately seemed to remember arguing against it.
And yet, here they were meeting in the morning, and had been for some years. Still, the other members had adjusted, as had Porter. He had to, since it had apparently been his idea.
The fact the board had adjusted at all was a miracle. The last time they’d been asked to change anything it had been the worn leather on the Lit and His chairs, and that had been sixty-three years ago. Members still remembered fathers and mothers, grandparents, ranged on either side of the upholstered Mason-Dixon Line. Remembered vitriolic comments made behind closed doors, behind backs, but before children. Who didn’t forget, sixty-three years later, that devious alteration from old black leather to new black leather.
Pulling out his chair at the head of the table Porter noticed it was looking worn. He sat quickly so that no one, least of all himself, could see it.
Small stacks of paper were neatly arranged in front of his and every other place, marching down the wooden table. Elizabeth MacWhirter’s doing. He examined Elizabeth. Plain, tall and slim. At least, she had been that when the world was young. Now she just looked freeze-dried. Like those ancient cadavers pulled from glaciers. Still obviously human, but withered and gray. Her dress was blue and practical and a very good cut and material, he suspected. After all, she was one of those MacWhirters. A venerable and moneyed family. One not given to displays of wealth, or brains. Her brother had sold the shipping empire about a decade too late. But there was still money there. She was a little dull, he thought, but responsible. Not a leader, not a visionary. Not the sort to hold a community in peril together. Like him. And his father before him. And his grandfather.
For the tiny English community within the walls of old Quebec City had been in peril for many generations. It was a kind of perpetual peril that sometimes got better and sometimes got worse, but never disappeared completely. Just like the English.
Porter Wilson had never fought a war, being just that much too young, and then too old. Not, anyway, an official war. But he and the other members of his board knew themselves to be in a battle nevertheless. And one, he secretly suspected, they were losing.
At the door Elizabeth MacWhirter greeted the other board members as they arrived and looked over at Porter Wilson already seated at the head of the table, reading over his notes.
He’d accomplished many things in his life, Elizabeth knew. The choir he’d organized, the amateur theater, the wing for the nursing home. All built by force of will and personality. And all less than they might have been had he sought and accepted advice.
The very force of his personality both created and crippled. How much more could he have accomplished had he been kinder? But then, dynamism and kindness often didn’t go together, though when they did they were unstoppable.
Porter was stoppable. Indeed, he stopped himself. And now the only board that could stand him was the Lit and His. Elizabeth had known Porter for seventy years, since she’d seen him eating lunch alone, every day, at school and gone to keep him company. Porter decided she was sucking up to one of the great Wilson clan, and treated her with disdain.
Still, she kept him company. Not because she liked him but because she knew even then something it would take Porter Wilson decades to realize. The English of Quebec City were no longer the juggernauts, no longer the steamships, no longer the gracious passenger liners of the society and economy.
They were a life raft. Adrift. And you don’t make war on others in the raft.
Elizabeth MacWhirter had figured that out. And when Porter rocked the boat, she righted it.
She looked at Porter Wilson and saw a small, energetic, toupéed man. His hair, where not imported, was dyed a shade of black the chairs would envy. His eyes were brown and darted about nervously.
Mr. Blake arrived first. The oldest board member, he practically lived at the Lit and His. He took off his coat, revealing his uniform of gray flannel suit, laundered white shirt, blue silk tie. He was always perfectly turned out. A gentleman, who managed to make Elizabeth feel young and beautiful. She’d had a crush on him when she’d been an awkward teen and he in his dashing twenties.
He’d been attractive then and sixty years later he was still attractive, though his hair was thin and white and his once fine body had rounded and softened. But his eyes were smart and lively, and his heart was large and strong.
“Elizabeth,” Mr. Blake smiled and took her hand, holding it for a moment. Never too long, never too familiar. Just enough, so that she knew she’d been held.
He took his seat. A seat, Elizabeth thought, that should be replaced. But then, honestly, so should Mr. Blake. So should they all.
What would happen when they died out and all that was left of the board of the Literary and Historical Society were worn, empty chairs?
“Right, we need to make this fast. We have a practice in an hour.”
Tom Hancock arrived, followed by Ken Haslam. The two were never far apart these days, being unlikely team members in the ridiculous upcoming race.
Tom was Elizabeth’s triumph. Her hope. And not simply because he was the minister of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church next door.
He was young and new to the community, having moved to Quebec City three years earlier. At thirty-three he was about half the age of the next youngest board member. Not yet cynical, not yet burned out. He still believed his church would find new parishioners, the English community would suddenly produce babies with the desire to stay in Quebec City. He believed the Québec government when it promised job equality for Anglophones. And health care in their own language. And education. And nursing homes so that when all hope was lost, they might die with their mother tongue on caregivers’ lips.
He’d managed to inspire the board to believe maybe all wasn’t lost. And even, maybe, this wasn’t really a war. Wasn’t some dreadful extension of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, one which the English lost this time. Elizabeth glanced up at the oddly petite statue of General James Wolfe. The martyred hero of the battle 250 years ago hovered over the library of the Literary and Historical Society, like a wooden accusation. To witness their petty battles and to remind them, in perpetuity, of the great battle he’d fought, for them. Where he’d died, but not before triumphing on that blood-soaked farmers field. Ending the war, and securing Québec for the English. On paper.
And now from his corner of the lovely old library General Wolfe looked down on them. In every way, Elizabeth suspected.
“So, Ken,” Tom said, taking his place beside the older man. “You in shape? Ready for the race?”
Elizabeth didn’t hear Ken Haslam’s response. But then she didn’t expect to. Ken’s thin lips moved, words were formed, but never actually heard.
They all paused, thinking perhaps this was the day he would produce a word above a whisper. But they were wrong. Still, Tom Hancock continued to talk to Ken, as though they were actually having a conversation.
Elizabeth loved Tom for that as well. For not giving in to the notion that because Ken was quiet he was stupid. Elizabeth knew him to be anything but. In his mid-sixties he was the most successful of all of them, building a business of his own. And now, having achieved that Ken Haslam had done something else remarkable.
He’d signed up for the treacherous ice canoe race. Signed on to Tom Hancock’s team. He would be the oldest member of the team, the oldest member of any team. Perhaps the oldest racer ever.
Watching Ken, quiet and calm and Tom, young, vital, handsome, Elizabeth wondered if maybe they understood each other very well after all. Perhaps both had things they weren’t saying.
Not for the first time Elizabeth wondered about Tom Hancock. Why he’d chosen to minister to them, and why he stayed within the walls of old Quebec City. It took a certain personality, Elizabeth knew, to choose to live in what amounted to a fortress.
“Right, let’s start,” said Porter, sitting up even straighter.
“Winnie isn’t here yet,” said Elizabeth.
“We can’t wait.”
“Why not?” Tom asked, his voice relaxed. But still Porter heard a challenge.
“Because it’s already past ten thirty and you’re the one who wanted to make this quick,” Porter said, pleased at having scored a point.
Once again, thought Elizabeth, Porter managed to look at a friend and see a foe.
“Quite right. Still, I’m happy to wait,” smiled Tom, unwilling to take to the field.
“Well, I’m not. First order of business?”
They discussed the purchase of new books for a while before Winnie arrived. Small and energetic, she was fierce in her loyalty. To the English community, to the Lit and His, but mostly to her friend.
She marched in, gave Porter a withering look, and sat next to Elizabeth.
“I see you started without me,” she said to him. “I told you I’d be late.”
Excerpted from Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny.
Copyright © 2010 by Louise Penny.
Published in October 2010 by Minotaur Books.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.


Continues...

Excerpted from Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny Copyright © 2010 by Louise Penny. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

“Few writers in any genre can match Penny’s ability to combine heartbreak and hope.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society--where an obsessive historian's quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly four hundred years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

Meanwhile, Gamache is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. "It doesn't make sense," Olivier's partner writes every day. "He didn't do it, you know."

As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive a terrible event from his own past before he can begin to bury his dead.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 142 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 142 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Requiem

    Louise Penny's series of books featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, continues with this brilliant book, which delves into the mind and soul of her protagonist. He is trying to sort out his life and feelings after a deadly kidnapping and shootout which resulted in the deaths of a number of police officers as well as serious injury to himself and others of his comrades. Gamache holds himself responsible for not being able to defuse the situation without such a terrible price. We are given glimpses of what occurred, through flashbacks, while Gamache, who is on leave, delves into the mystery surrounding the death of a rather eccentric and prominent, though not well liked citizen of Quebec. The body was found in the Literary and Historical Society, a little known bastion of English life buried in the heart of French Quebec. More than just a body is uncovered as feelings run high in this land of split loyalties and centuries old animosities. Gamache's self doubt brought on by the recent tragedy also insinuates itself to his past, as he starts to question the validity of a recent murder conviction for a crime in the town of Tree Pines. It would be helpful although not essential, at this point, if the reader has already read the previous book in the series, "The Brutal Telling." The author skillfully balances all these themes and a rich cast of characters, while managing to touch the heart of both her characters and the reader. Penny breathes life into her creations and takes our breath away at the same time.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Disappointment

    6th book the Chief Inspector Gamache series

    'Bury your Dead', won numerous awards in Canada and other countries for being the 'Best Crime Novel' in 2010 and consequently became profitable for everyone in the business. Browsing reviews from different sites before I finalized my thoughts, I discovered most readers' qualified it as extraordinary; the best in the series'.seems I am one of the few to question this assessment.'OMG did I dislike one of Louise Penny's cosy novels? What did I miss?

    I agree with those saying that Louise Penny ran out of ideas in this one, after creating so much murder and suspense in Three Pines she seems to have lost focus and direction in this one. The action moves to Québec City, dead of winter, Carnival time, where we learn the loveable Inspector has suffered a traumatic event. Initially I wondered, did I miss something, where, when and how did this event happen?

    This latest instalment is a rather quiet introspective story that intertwines three plots:

    1) Inspector Gamache while in recovery mode decides to spend some time with his mentor in Québec City and rehash some of his memories that still haunt him and try to tie up some loose ends. While there, he stumbles upon the Lit& His Library/Museum at the time when a body is discovered in the basement. Naturally our Québec 'Columbo' takes the reins of the investigation, an investigation that brushes the delicate aspects of history between the French and Anglo communities.

    2) While in flashback mode Gamache rehashes the events of a deadly police investigation that went terribly wrong. A deadly raid that always comes back to haunt him.

    3) Another case that has also haunted him over time is brought to the forefront. He was never happy with the outcome and asks Jean Guy Beauvoir to revisit the case with the hope of answering some of his unanswered questions. It is a step back in time covering the events in the novel 'The Brutal Telling'

    The author hopscotches her way between plots that are not linked in an awkward manner making it very hard to follow, even with a full background of the previous novels, I found it a challenge. MS. Penny passion for Québec can be overwhelming at times, French terms and expression add atmosphere to the prose but may not have full effect if not understood. Gamache wandering the cobble stone streets of the Old City munching a baguette or a croissant spells tourist rather than a native of the province in my books'.The pacing pussyfoots all through the story, the only serious action surfaces in the last pages with Gamache's step by step recount of the botched investigation.

    This was a tedious read, a disappointment. I preferred when Inspector Gamache focused on one case at a time

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Best yet!

    This book is just breath-taking. Louise truly knows how to combine suspense, humor and heartbreak into a fascinating story. Bury Your Dead gives us a deeper look into the heart and soul of Armande Gamache while also diving into the history of Quebec (now next on my list of places I want to visit!) and, of course, dropping in on Three Pines. Louise expertly intertwines all of these storylines into a compelling, often sad, but genuinely beautiful book. As another reader suggests, do start with Still Life and read the other books first -- they build on one another and are all wonderful in themselves -- but this one just tops them all!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Missing the Joy

    I was absolutely intrigued and delighted by the Armand G. Series. His optimism, patience, respect, and joi de vie were a model for me. I began to count my blessings, more fully use all of my senses, appreciate others, and laugh. I particularly relished the humderous interchanges in the first few books.

    This was a good read, but not a wonderful read that I had come to expect from Louise Penny. In the past, l wanted to find myself lost in 3 Pines. Or Quebec.

    The characters may be more realistic, but...

    Judie

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Penny's Best Yet

    Borrowing from another review, this is the most ambitious plot in the series. It shows the growth of Penny's story telling skill. The beautiful historic background, the incorporation of Canadian history and present day politics was fantastic. The movement from present day to the past kept the story building in a manner that keeps one drawn into the story. The touching insight into Armand, Jean-Guy and Reine-Marie relationships brought me to tears. Beautiful.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2010

    Highly recommend. An amazing read.

    I cannot put the book down. Historical mystery interwoven with psychological intrigue is unbeatable. The comfortable and comforting setting of the novel is hard to leave.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Louise Penny Does It Again

    Yes ... it is another Chief Inspector Gamache mystery by Louise Penny but it is NOT just another one - it is NOT just more of the same. This is a story that shows more of Gamache as a "human" character as he is recovering physically, mentally, and even emotionally from his last case. We also see how he even admits to himself how he has made mistakes in that case as well as another case from a previous book. He is on vacation and is asked to consult in a murder case involving a local historian. But there is more to the story than just his involvement in this case. We learn about a little Quebec history, personal history about the inspector, and even an investigation being conductd by one of his team members on a case in Three Pines. There is a lot going on and a lot of interesting characters to keep the interest.

    I first discovered the author and this character through my mystery reading book club. Penny is definitely on my list of authors to read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2010

    A story of loss, love, and redemption

    This is a stunning story. As it opens, Armand Gamache is reliving the worst moments of his life. A search and rescue mission has gone terribly wrong; people under his command have died and others have been badly wounded. Gamache lives with the decisions he made but he is steeped in sorrow because of what he believes were his bad choices. He is consumed by , "if only.."

    Gamache is on leave and he and his wife, Reine-Marie, are visiting with Gamache's old chief and mentor, Emile Comeau. Armand and Reine-Marie visit Emile frequently since the death of his wife, all three enjoying each other's company. When Reine-Marie returns to Montreal, Gamache stays, enjoying quiet days at the Literary and Historical Society, an organization dedicated to preserving and protecting all things English in French Quebec.

    Gamache is researching Captain Cook and the atmosphere in the beautiful old library is calming to the soul and stimulating to the intellect. The Lit and His, as it is known, is an oasis in Quebec City, a quiet place out of time gone by. Gamache looks forward to his meals with Emile, their evening conversations, and his days at the Lit and His. He has discovered a rhythm to his days that is healing him body and soul.

    Then the peace of the library is shattered by the discovery of a body in the basement of the library. Augustin Renaud is known throughout Quebec City as a pest. Renaud is on a quest to find the location of the grave of Samuel de Champlain, the Father of Canada. Renaud has made it his mission to find Champlain's bones so that they can be interred in a place worthy of the man who created Canada for the French. Renaud is not deterred by the fact that Champlain died in 1635. What was Renaud doing in the Lit and His? Did Renaud really think that the bones had been hidden by the English for nearly 400 years? Gamache may be on leave but he can't turn his back on something that happened almost under his nose.

    Gamache has not forgotten Three Pines. Gabri won't allow it. Everyday Gamache receives a letter from Gabri with the same message: Why would Olivier move the body? Olivier didn't do it. When Olivier was convicted of killing the hermit in the woods, Gamache knew that he had lost good friends in Three Pines but he believed that the evidence was clear in pointing to Olivier as the killer. But, as he reads Gabri's note everyday, Gamache wonders if he did get it right. He knows he won't be welcome in Three Pines so he sends Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir to reassess the motive and the means behind the killing of the hermit in the cabin in the woods.

    The author balances three distinct stories in this novel: the murder of Augustin Renaud, the murder of the hermit in Three Pines, and the tragic police action that went so terribly wrong. Betrayal, jealousy, disloyalty, anger, and revenge flow through the story. There is deep sadness and loss. Penny does not spare her characters and she doesn't spare her readers. But there is also love and commitment. BURY YOUR DEAD is a powerful story. It is a story of redemption but a redemption buried in pain. Penny owns the reader right to the very last line and then, again, well past the closing of the cover.

    Had I been a voter for the Anthony Award, I would have cast a ballot for SHANGHAI MOON. It is BURY YOUR DEAD that should net Louise Penny many awards for a story that echoes long past the end of the story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Mystery the way it should be written!

    As the latest installment of the Armand Gamache Series, Bury Your Dead found our Chief Inspector in Quebec City with his mentor Emile trying to recover both his body and spirit after a horrific terror threat that left several in his department dead and many others wounded. To escape the horrors in his mind, the Chief finds himself drawn to the history books at the local English "Lit and His" Society. Unfortunately, the Lit and His also drew in Augustin Renaud, a rather unusual local, famous for his obsession in the search of the body of Quebec's founder, Samuel de Champlain. Renaud's search had ended, along with his own life, in the basement of the Lit and His. Being recognized by some of the officials, Gamache was asked to assist with this bizarre case and although reluctant at first, accepted the challenge and went to work trying to find out more about Renaud; why he would be in the basement of the Lit and His to begin with; and who would want him dead. The search sends him over centuries of time and along many unexpected roads. As the Chief was recovering in Quebec, his right hand, Inspector Jean Guy, was recovering in Three Pines. However, like the Chief, Jean Guy also found himself with a little project during his recovery time. As a favor to the Chief, Jean Guy was taking a fresh look at a murder case - a murder case that he himself helped to close there just recently. It didn't take long for a closed case to become re-opened and matters thought certain to be questioned again. This mystery is very well written with brilliant depictions of the magnificent Quebec winter landscapes and well developed characters as real as you and me. Penny combines picturesque descriptions with some Canadian history, fantastic characters, a full range of emotions, and a rock solid mystery that doesn't hint to revelation until the very end. Though having read the prior books in this series could be of help with the background information, this book can certainly be read and enjoyed on its own. This is a truly fantastic series that I would recommend to anyone!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the best

    This is my favorite book of the year. Penny's prose, whether inside Inspector Gamache's head or out, pulls the varied threads of this amazing story together so well. Gamache is recuperating in Quebec City, dabbling in some historical research when a murder involving another driven historian is discovered. Unofficially, Gamache is invited to participate in the investigation. In the meantime, Three Pines still flutters through his mind, with daily notes from bistro owner Gabri. Finally, he sends Inspector Beauvoir, who is also recovering from their most recent case to Three Pines, to take a fresh look at who may have killed the hermit. Although the quirky characters of Three Pines may be hard to keep up with if you haven't read the previous book, The Brutal Telling, I think you could muddle through if you had to, but would be better off for reading that mystery first.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Louise Penny has done it again

    "Bury Your Dead" was a real page turner. There were stories beneath the main story and all were resolved in a manner that made each one seem like the main story. I've put Louise Penny on my list of authors to look for in the future, especially for some real mystery. I love the writing style and the way unfamiliar words in French were explained.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A sweet and lovely murder mystery

    Louise Penny writes sweet and lovely books set in Canada. How can murder mysteries be sweet and lovely? Just try the latest from Penny and you'll see for yourself what her pacing, prose and the quiet humanity of her characters bring to her stories.

    Chief Inspector Armond Gamache and Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir are both recovering from wounds sustained in a foiled terrorist plot; physical as well as emotional. Gamache is in Quebec with his long time mentor exploring the history of that city when he becomes involved in a murder that threatens to further divide the English and the separatists, the French speaking majority. Beauvoir is back in Three Pines presumably as a tourist this time, but actually to take another look at the murder of an unknown man called the Hermit.

    Rich in Quebec history, centering on Samuel de Champlain, the author expertly and lyrically weaves the concurrent stories, making BURY YOUR DEAD an absolute pleasure to read. Lynn Kimmerle

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 12, 2010

    What more could you want in a great mystery book?

    Short review: It's an incredible book and I am very lucky that I had access to an Advanced Reader's Copy. You, gentle reader, would enjoy it most if you read the first five books in the Three Pines mystery series as they all build in terms of character and story to make the experience far more rich and rewarding.

    And a longer (if you wnat to keep reading) version: My love affair with the books of Louise Penny began two years ago when I read the first of her Three Pines mysteries, "Still Life". I have read a lot of mysteries (including 120 in the last three years) and Louise Penny has become one of my favorite writers. All of the mysteries I read have their fair share of good and evil, usually a corpse or two and someone searching for the answers.

    In Louise's world, her people are so complex and fascinating (beginning with the Surete's Armand Gamache) that you wish you could move into the small Canadian village of Three Pines and join them for a cup of cafe au lait and a croissant. So what if people seem to die there (of unnatural causes) at a higher per capita rate than almost anywhere else! It's a world of good friends and great food and challenging weather, of art and poetry and greed and mayhem and undercurrents. So many wonderful undercurrents. Penny does not underestimate the readers' intelligence and for that we can be grateful. This newest book, "Bury Your Dead" takes you to several locations throughout Canada, but her skill in tying it all back to Three Pines and the residents there is wonderful. I have no desire to spoil any of the storyline(s) for you, so I will just say that if you like your reading to include sly wit, heartbreaking emotions and a deep understanding of what makes us human, this is the book (and series) for you. Enjoy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    This is without a doubt the best book I ever read. I've read the

    This is without a doubt the best book I ever read. I've read the whole series so
    far but this book compelled me do something I've never done. As soon as I
    finished it I went back to the beginning and read it all over again, this time
     to appreciate how beautifully it was constructed. For me, Louise Penny
    managed to write the perfect book 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2013

    Magnifique!  This series just gets better and better.  Couldn't

    Magnifique!  This series just gets better and better.  Couldn't put it down.  Highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2012

    It's ok

    Too many plots to keep tract of. Author jumps from one to the other with out any warning. Had to read parts over. This was a book from my book club, I think should of probably read the first books in series before this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Highly recommend

    This was the first Louise Penny book I happened to pick up. Although not the first in the series, i had no difficulty identifying the characters -- and truly enjoyed her descriptions of the environs -- walking in bitter wind and snow -- Henri`, dog, having to pick up each foot separately from freezing to the walkway. Impressed by historical references and "tension" between francophones and anglos. I have now made a list of her other publications, to take on my next visit to the book store. A VERY good read !

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2011

    Great mystery until the end!

    I loved this book after I got past the Quebecisms and French phrases. I was glad I made myself hang in there til the end. The story is excellent with great character development.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2010

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    Louise Penny is not for me

    This book was sent to me to review, and if I hadn't felt an obligation to do so, I might not have finished it. This was a difficult read for me for several reasons. First and foremost, it is the sixth book of the series and I didn't feel that Louise Penny made much of an attempt to engage first time readers with her characters. Of course it didn't help that there were three stories, two evolving concurrently, and the third, a case that keeps being relived, which gravely injured both Gamache and his second in command, Beauvoir. Both are currently on medical leave and neither can let go of the failed rescue mission that nearly killed them. It is this past case that is probably the most interesting part of the entire book. Unfortunately, Penny chooses to painfully drag this story out as both characters deal with the aftermath differently. The combination of stories creates multitudes of characters and case details of which the reader needs to keep track.

    Louise Penny's writing style is often compared to Agatha Christie, and I see the comparison, but not necessarily in a good way. She has a florid style of writing that seems too whimsical for a thriller genre. For example, "She was grateful he hadn't said murder. It was too shocking a word. She'd been testing it out in the safety of her own head, but wasn't yet ready to take it out in public."~ (pg 35) Does anyone really think like that?!? To me the elegance comes across as unnatural and dated. Penny also has a habit of jumping points of view from character to character. Most authors reserve those kinds of shifts for chapter breaks, but Penny will do it several times a page, sometimes within the same paragraph. It's tiring.

    I also found some of the plot points outlandish. I understand that Gamache would be asked to assist with the case as a courtesy, but to let him single-handedly conduct his own investigation while never checking in with the lead investigator on the case? That sounds a little bizarre. I won't spoil it for anyone who wants to prove me wrong, but the resolution of this mystery was fairly straight forward and not horribly mysterious. There is also tons of history entrenched in this storyline which, while well researched, bogged down an already over laden story.


    The secondary story is actually the central case of book five in the series. There was some disappointment in it's resolution among her fans, and perhaps with the author herself because she has Gamache send Beauvoir, to unofficially reopen the case. Beauvoir is also on medical leave and this angle seems a little farfetched as well. I believe that Beauvoir would do anything the chief asked, but I can't fathom how far things went without going through official channels. Both Beauvoir and Gamache seem to like to grandstand their case results in front of an audience of suspects too (very Agatha Christie). I can see this as plausible in some situations to draw a suspect out, but the long speeches seemed a little cliché.

    I cannot speak for the rest of the Gamache series, not having read it, I can only speak for this as a standalone novel. This book tried to be too many things: an history lesson, a psychological profile, a rewrite, a mystery, an example of elegant prose. I can see where this award winning author's work would have a solid fan base. However, I don't think I'm her target audience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 9, 2010

    A Fascinating and Poignant Mystery

    Ms. Penny gives us characters that we not only like, we love. Bury Your Dead weaves three cases together seamlessly, each with a the common thread of human imperfection. Armand Gamache and his beloved Surete are in pain...recovering from a tragedy that slowly reveals itself while two other murders are investigated. The storylines are so lovingly crafted, so exquisitely laid out that I found myself laughing and crying while anxiously turning each page for the next surprise. First time readers of Ms. Penny should really start with her first novel about Three Pines...but definitely read #5 before taking on #6...or it may be hard to follow.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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