A novel about life and deathand all the mystery that remainsfrom #1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is on break from duty in Three Pines to attend the famed Winter Carnival up north. He has arrived in this beautiful, freezing city not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. Still, violent death is inescapableeven here, in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society, where one obsessive academic’s quest for answers will lead Gamache down a dark path. . .
Meanwhile, Gamache is receiving disturbing news from his hometown village. Beloved bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder but everyoneincluding Gamachebelieves that he is innocent. Who is behind this sinister plot? Now it’s up to Gamache to solve this killer case. . .and relive a terrible event from his own past before he can begin to bury his dead.
“Few writers in any genre can match Penny’s ability to combine heartbreak and hope.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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Bury Your Dead
By Louise Penny
Minotaur BooksCopyright © 2010 Three Pines Creations, Inc.
All rights reserved.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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 homicide 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 tuque 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 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," 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.
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.
Excerpted from Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny. Copyright © 2010 Three Pines Creations, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Minotaur Books.
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.
Reading Group Guide
1. What are the three story lines, and how do they feed into each other? What are the connections?
2. What do you think of the structure of the story, with the shifting time frames and points of view? How did the gradual unfolding of what really happened to Agent Morin and Chief Inspector Gamache affect your view of those events?
3. How do you feel about the resolution of the crime in Three Pines?
4. Why does the Battle of the Plains of Abraham have such an impact on Gamache?
5. Both Gamache and Agent Morin greatly valued their relationships with their mentors, Emile Comeau and Gamache himself. Do you think they were right to do so?
6. Does the relationship between the French and the English in Québec have any parallels in your community? How do you feel about such relationships--both in the book and in your own experience?
7. René Dallaire calls Québec "a rowboat society....We move forward, but we're always looking back." Does your community have a strong sense of the past? How dangerous is it to remember history, and how dangerous is it not to?
8. Throughout the book, Gamache is haunted by his own mistakes. How do you view those mistakes, and the way he deals with the aftermath?
9. Gamache is also haunted by the line from an old song, avec le temps: "with the passage of time." What do you think about the healing powers of time?
10. If you have read some or all of Louise Penny's earlier books, how do you see both the books and the characters evolving?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
"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.
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
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.
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
Magnifique! This series just gets better and better. Couldn't put it down. Highly recommend.
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
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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.
I love the ties to the previous books. And I now have to add Quebec to my bucket list.
In Old Quebec City, Armand Gamache is taking a break from police work after a particularly traumatic case that left him, and members of his team, both physically and emotionally wounded. When a dead body is found in the Literary and Historical Society basement, one of the employees recognizes Gamache and requests his assistance. The body leads to another mystery surrounding the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain. Meanwhile, Gamache is plagued by a question from a previous case in Three Pines and sends Jean Guy to quietly re-investigate to see if they missed or mis-read clues.Penny keeps all the mysteries humming while slowly, painstakingly revealing the horrible backstory. Her writing is lovely as ever, character development is breathtaking, and descriptions of Quebec and Three Pines inspire in the reader a longing to visit. Brilliant.
Excellent murder mystery. Fabulous descriptions of old Quebec City - the snow scenes especially atmospheric. Louise Penny did a masterful job of integrating the stories of three concurrent cases. I loved every aspect of this book, but particularly the contrasting characters of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his detective second-in-command, Jean Guy Beauvoir. I could not put it down!
It's true. Each Penny book is better than the last. Here is a triple-plot, murder mystery, historical novel, and psyhcological intrigue with a strong sense of time and place. This book answers questions raised in the last one. Penny developes familiar characters and deepens the bond between series and reader.
Bury Your Dead is the sixth in this seven book series. Described by some as a cosie (Blecchhh!). Others compare the author to Agatha Christie (Yukkk). Regardless, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Takes place in Quebec around winter carnival time, but mercifully there are no protracted duel-to-the-death-on-the-freezing-river scenes. Three cases are covered concurrently in this story. One is an incident that happened some six months ago where there was a huge gun battle with heavily armed terrorists planning to blowup a ......Then there is a case described in a previous book in the series where the murderer is caught and sent to jail but now our hero chief Inspector Armand is having second thoughts so he sends second in command to Three Pines to revisit the case. AG is recovering in Quebec and gets sucked into a murder uncovered in the bowels of a library he has been frequenting, and hence we learn about some key events in the history of Quebec. The three stories are interwoven, the pace is frenetic, and the three stories are all equally interesting, perhaps the biggest challenge for an author trying this approach. I will read other books in the series but I am not excited about visiting Three Pines again, the setting for most of the books in the series. Too cozy! 4.5 stars, completed 10/11/11.
Chief Inspector Gamache is recovering from feelings of failure after some officers in his charge were killed, and now he's in Quebec visiting an old mentor. They get embroiled in a murder case, and it seems that mistakes abound, from Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham almost through until the last pages of this mystery.
Pleasant, but not a great read. And the writing sometimes makes me cringe - where are the editors?