First, good: The mystery in this one was interesting. CC de Poitiers is a wannabe lifestyle guru who has recently moved to Three Pines with her husband and child, whom she disliked and ignored. Her relationship with Crie, her overweight fourteen year old daughter, is downright emotionally abusive. She is seen as cruel by everybody who knows her, including the man she’s having an affair with. Nobody likes her, and nobody is really sad when she is murdered, right in the middle of the day, in the middle of a crowd watching a curling match. Penny really works the inherent tension in the premise, of Gamache doing his best to solve the murder of this woman whom nobody misses.
Three Pines is a fun place to set a murder mystery. It has lots of atmosphere, from the cozy lifestyle of most of its inhabitants, from the characters who all know each other, all the way to the brutal and unforgiving weather that surrounds them. It’s near Montreal, but set apart. I continue to find Penny’s insights into Canadian culture fascinating (anyone who lives in Quebec, can you speak to the Anglo vs. French thing?).
I also still love Gamache. He is so good and kind. He does what is right, even when what is right holds personal and professional consequences for him. He does it here with regards to CC, and eventually, with her murderer. He does it in regards to, UGH, Agent Nichol, who is unfortunately back, and with a devious plan to bring Gamache down. I just, I really dislike her, and this storyline better have good payoff because I hate it right now. It’s really nice to see him training someone competent this book, who actually listens to him.
Listening to this series by audio is still really soothing, and my complaint from the first book that there wasn’t enough space between changes in POV was somewhat alleviated. Ralph Cosham has a lovely voice and I’ll be sad when the new narrator takes over (Cosham died in 2014).
Okay, the not so good: Honestly it’s just one thing. All the coincidence. How is that Clara and Peter Morrow, and Ruth and all the rest, are wrapped up in yet another murder investigation? And not just on the side, either, but right in the thick of it. They try to rescue CC, they are the ones that drive her to the hospital. A vital clue is found in their possession, etc. It’s just. A lot. I mean, how often is a non-cop, non-detective, whatever, involved in a murder? And a murder of someone you know, on top of that? Maybe once in a lifetime, if that. I mean, knock on wood, I’ve never been a witness or a person of interest in a murder investigation. I’ve never found a clue sitting around my house. I’ve never helped a detective make the final break in a case. These people! I mean, I like them. It’s just, I’m not sure if this happens again that I can buy it. And a minor thing, there is a tiny bit of fat phobia here in regards to Crie, the daughter. I can buy that other characters are turned off by her fatness (this is a thing that happens in real life all the time), but I would have appreciated some nod on behalf of the narrator, or Gamache or something, that her fatness wasn’t some sort of tragic symptom of her abuse. It was just a little bit uncomfortable.
That said, I will keep reading. Unless this series does something to really turn me off, but I don’t see that happening.