This is one of my favorites in this series so far, right up there with #5 and #9. It gave me everything that I like about this series with very little of what I don’t. A lot of authors by book twelve are just turning the cogs, phoning it in, and things can get stale. Penny at the very least seems to know how to keep things feeling fresh and new, and yet still give you the comfort of returning to check in with the characters.
I particularly liked the setting of this one, which split its time between Three Pines (where for once a murder wasn’t shoehorned in, and the connection to the mystery was an organic, believable one) and the Sûreté training academy that Gamache has come out of retirement to run. And by run, I mean clean up from the corrupt mess it currently is.
In addition to Gamache and the Three Pines crew, we also get POV from one of the cadets, a surly girl who everyone is surprised Gamache let into the academy. All the various threads in this one come together very nicely, and for me at least, the mystery walked the line of just being good enough to solve, but still managed to be surprising. As the ominous title might also hint at, it manages to be personal as well. Can’t believe I’m already to book thirteen!