I think I picked up the wrong book. I’ve been recommended Louise Penny as being in the Tana French vein (write faster, French!), and I just sort of assumed that like the Dublin Murder Squad books that you could pick any one up and jump in.
This wasn’t a bad book, but it felt a little like starting a TV show in the seventh season. Maybe I’m wrong, but I got the impression that I was supposed to know all of the characters and histories alluded to but not actually explicitly stated. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly how it differs from a book where the unwritten backstory gives depth and is intentionally unknowable, but I’d bet money that some of these characters and events are previous Penny regulars and she’s counting on our knowing them.
I suppose there’s no way to know for sure without reading more of her stuff, and I will – I bought a few of her books after the French comparison (and sorry, but I can’t think of many authors who wouldn’t suffer by that metric) – but I’m not that eager to start the next one. The tangential mystery – who is cadet Amelia Chouquet to Inspector Gamache? – was pretty obvious to me from early pages. There were too many tertiary characters and plots, and it was hard to keep track of the former and care about the latter.
I’m hopeful the next one will be better.