Monday, 2 November 2015

The Cruellest Month

Author: Louise Penny
Genre: Mystery, Canadian
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 464
Series: #3 in the Inspector Gamache series
Publisher: Sphere
First Published: June 2011
First Line: "Kneeling in the fragrant moist grass of the village green Clara Morrow carefully hid the Easter egg and thought about raising the dead, which she planned to do right after supper."

Book Description from GoodReadsChief Inspector Gamache of the Surete du Quebec is called to the peaceful village of Three Pines. A seance held on Easter Sunday has gone tragically wrong and someone has been literally scared to death."

My Review:  Penny once again writes with humour, heart and a whole lot of mad skill in this third book in her highly popular Inspector Gamache series.  As in her previous books it's the characters that truly make this series stand out from all of the other mystery series our there.

I will admit that this wasn't my favourite book in the series so far but still a good read. I love that Penny doesn't spoon feed her readers dialogue or give away the mystery in one fell swoop.  Instead she drops little hints to her readers throughout the book but in a way that you don't realize it until she decides to help you piece it together.  The mystery itself was good (not great) but it was the people of Three Pines as well as Gamache's turmoil and side story that had me turning pages into the wee hours of the night.

The magic of this series is not only the stellar writing (Penny can fling some amazing prose) and the good mysteries but ultimately I keep coming back to this highly popular series because of the characters.  Penny uses multiple points of view to give her readers an in-depth view of the mystery and its people but it never feels disjointed.  These points of view really make her characters come to life and you can't help but start to care for the regulars in the books. 

If you ignore the fact that Three Pines has the highest murder per capita in the world, it's a place you'd love to visit because of the people there.  Penny's characters certainly have their issues, jealousies, on-going squabbles with each other and their vices -  from Ruth's surprising mothering skills, to Peter's jealousy to Beauvoir's feelings for Gamache - but in the end they feel like a big ol' dysfunctional family. There's an undercurrent of love and respect and I love that.   

I, of course, have my favourite characters who keep me coming back for more, namely Ruth, Gabri, Olivier and Gamache.  Ahhh, Ruth.  She is brash, unfiltered, crass and I do so love her.  I also adore the banter back and forth between the characters especially between Ruth, Olivier and Gabri.  But in the end my favourite is Gamache, the complicated, insightful Inspector who intrigues me.  His compassion for others, his strength, his love for his wife and the support he gives his team of police rejects continue to make him a truly unique character.

Not all of the issues between the characters are conveniently fixed at the end of each book.  Some of the issues, especially concerning Gamache, continue on and it's those relationships/issues that have me coming back for more (and why you should read this series in order).  Sure the mystery is good but its those underlying currents between characters that make this series for me.  The mystery is just the icing on the cake.

I regularly recommend this Canadian mystery series to my patrons at the library where I work - pretty much on a weekly basis.  The Inspector Gamache series is a little bit of Canadiana, has good mysteries and amazing writing as well as characters whom you will grow to love.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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