The fifth book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, The Brutal Telling is a murder mystery that takes place in the small town of Three Pines, where a man no one seems to recognize has turned up dead in the local cafe. The Brutal Telling has all the hallmarks of the series: an outsider is murdered, the peace of Three Pines is shattered, Inspector Gamache bestows his beatific smile on those who deserve it and saves the day. But for reasons unrelated to the quality of these books, I’m starting to struggle with them a bit.
The Inspector Gamache books are mysteries, and although they aren’t terrifying, they also aren’t cozies. More and more, as they move along, the sense of overwhelming doom that Penny creates with her writing is starting to make it hard for me to really enjoy them. It’s 2017, I live in the U.S.–I feel a fair amount of impending doom every day of my life, and so also feeling it in reading, which is supposed to be my escape–well, it feels unfair. This is not to say that I disliked this book–on the contrary, it’s a solid entry in the series and far superior to a couple of the earlier ones. I’m just not sure I can continue reading these at this juncture. I may need a break.
This isn’t the first book I’ve said that about this year–maybe the problem isn’t the books themselves. Maybe I’m just having some trouble keeping the real world out of my reading, or maybe I’m not choosing books with the right escapist flavor to suit my needs right now. I’m really enjoying this series, but I think I need to put it aside for awhile.