This wasn’t what I was expecting, but I ended up having a pleasant enough time of it. The blurb makes it seem like it’s going to be all about a serial killer, but he’s really more of a tertiary concern throughout. Mostly, this book is about the murder of Laurent Lepage, nine years old, and what his death uncovers hiding in the woods behind Three Pines.
Gamache and Reine-Marie have both retired to Three Pines, and Lacoste is now the acting head of homicide, with Beauvoir as her second in command. The murder brings them back to Three Pines (murder capital of Canada), and the dynamics of the way they interact with Gamache was actually really nice, treating him with respect for his former position and welcoming his help in the case, yet not giving up authority. Clara takes a mostly quiet background role, and we see the progress she’s made in her grief over Peter’s death.
The real surprise for me was Ruth. I actually knew going in we would learn a little bit about Ruth’s background here, but I wish I hadn’t known that going in, because I had assumed (and was excited for) some personal history. What we actually got was a bit different, and I was sort of torn on whether or not the background presented actually accounted for the version of Ruth we have in the present day. I’m still not honestly sure I get the full connection to what happened in the past and what she’s like now.
The case itself is based on actual history, which I think is good to know going in, as the plot might seem far-fetched otherwise. There really was a Gerald Bull, and he really did build SPOILERS a supergun for Saddam Hussein, before being murdered, most likely by Mossad agents END SPOILERS.
This was the first of these books I’ve read in hard copy, since the last book was the last Ralph Cosham read as narrator for the audio versions before he died, and I don’t want to hear an other narrator’s version of these characters. I liked reading the hard copy, certainly got through the book faster, to its advantage, I think, but I did miss Ralph Cosham’s cozy voice.