After immersing myself in the Bernie Madoff story following his death, I was kind of caught off guard at a character that, while probably not based on Madoff given the timing of publication, certainly resembles him.
This was probably my favorite Inspector Gamache novel so far. It also reminded me of what frustrates me about the series. I’ll share what’s good in the paragraphs below and then post a spoiler alert to express my frustrations, which will mostly be for longtime Gamache readers.
Both the setting and the mystery are a lot of fun. Taking the story away from Three Pines and sticking Gamache in a…well not locked room setting but on site setting where he happens to be trapped with staff and guests, any of which could be the killer. It adds to the tension, which Penny gets better at building with each subsequent novel. This is perhaps the biggest leap between books I’ve seen in her creative skills. I’m not sure she could’ve written this as well for book two or three but it works here.
I also really liked how this concluded. Though I had a good idea of who the murderer was, Penny dispenses clues in an effective manner.
And now for what annoys me…
Here be spoilers…
I’m really tired of how Penny writes Clara. The woman simply can’t catch a break and it makes reading about her character especially frustrating. I was hoping Peter would be the murderer until I realized that would allow Penny to paint Clara as more of a martyr. It’s sometimes frustrating to me how Penny can allow the foibles of men to be more forgivable than those of her female characters. I like Clara personally but she really needs a soft reboot. The woe-is-her act has worn thin after four books.
Also, for Gamache readers, please don’t tell me “It gets good after book 8!” or “Wait ’til you read book 10!” Let me go on this journey without foreknowledge.