Glad to say I’m fully back on board with this series. I’ve decided to overlook its faults in favor of the things it does really well. I don’t think these same people in this same very small town are going to stop improbably encountering dead bodies anytime soon. And what it does really well is character. Penny’s characters are very human.
The consensus for this one seems to be that it’s good, not great. Just solid. But I liked it better than the last two in the series, certainly the last book, which nearly lost me there in the middle. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie are on holiday for their wedding anniversary when, yes, a dead body turns up. Also staying at the Manoir Bellchasse are the Finney family. They’re having a sort of family reunion, and a statue they’ve commissioned for the Manoir of their dearly departed paterfamilias is due to be installed during the reunion. The Finney family seem to be constantly at odds with one another, and they all have emotionally conflicting memories of Charles Morrow. The Finneys actually turn out to be the Morrows, and Peter Morrow (of Three Pines infamy) is one of the siblings. (Finney is the name of their stepfather.)
Though on vacation, Gamache is called to investigate the death of one of the Morrow siblings, who is inexplicably crushed by the new statue. Everyone is a suspect, and none of them are leaving the Manoir until the murderer is caught. (I was convinced I’d figured out the murderer this time. CONVINCED. I was not right.)
What I love about these books is that while you’re learning clues and backstories and possible motivations, you’re also getting deep characters studies of not just Gamache and his team, but all the potential suspects and supporting characters. The emotion of human action, the WHY, is clearly just as important, if not moreso, to Penny than the HOW.
Gamache also gets some growth here, despite being an upstanding man who is good at his job. The case brings up family history with his father that Gamache hasn’t really dealt with since he was a child, and which begins to affect his relationship with his own son as the novel goes on. Penny once again works against type with her hero, proving that while it’s fun and good to have seriously flawed characters at the center of your detective series, it’s also possible to go the other way, and still have a meaningful reading experience..
CBR Bingo: Cannonballer Says! (Review a book you chose because you liked another Cannonballer’s review.) (Katie’s!)