Friday, June 22, 2012

Louise Penny, Once Again

Why, oh why, aren't customers 100 deep on the hold list for the works of Louise Penny? I mean really? We still have some 600 waiting for Fifty Shades of Grey! Ms. Penny just gets better and better and I think that the book I just finished listening to, Bury Your Dead, is my favorite in the Armande Gamache series so far.

Labeling novels by genre has been getting more and more controversial. I've discussed it here in this blog previously and now Duncan Smith has addressed it in his latest blog post for Novelist, a readers' advisory database.

There is no way that the works of Louise Penny can be called "cozies." In fact, they seem to become darker as they progress. Not darker in the violence of the crimes as much as darker in her assessment of the human heart. These novels are deep with psychological insight into what makes us tick. It's not always pretty!

In her 6th installment of the series Ms. Penny has pulled off an extraordinary coup, combining three stories in one, simultaneously. Not once was I confused as to which story I was in. It's amazing really.

Both Chief Armande Gamache and his second in command and dear friend Jean Guy de Beauvoir are recovering from wounds both physical and emotional suffered in a job gone horribly wrong in the previous novel. Jean Guy is back in the deceptively peaceful town of Three Pines where, in that previous book, A Brutal Telling, a popular local business owner was sentenced to prison for a murder he may not have committed.

Gamache is in old Quebec recuperating at the home of his former boss and mentor Emile Comeau. At Gamache's request, Jean Guy is surreptitiously reopening the investigation in Three Pines while Gamache is being pulled into a murder investigation at his place of respite, the library of The Literary and Historical Society.

Ms. Penny treats readers to a fascinating history lesson on the founding of Quebec and the ensuing clashes between the English and the French that continue unabated. The French Separatist movement still flourishes in Quebec and the English speakers are considered persona non grata.

The story of the battle of Samuel de Champlain (remember your grammar school lessons?) and Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham come alive as we follow the trail of a quirky historian whose life work is the ongoing search for Champlain's final burial place.

However, none of these distractions can stop Gamache's mind from replaying the horrific details of the botched investigation that brought him to Quebec for R and R. Guilt, recrimination, and now a tacky media splash, combine to weigh heavily on Gamache's soul, leaving readers anxious for the next installment in this outstanding series.

No comments: