This was cruising to a 4-star rating and probably the title of my favorite Gamache read. And instead, it lands at 3.
Why? A variety of reasons.
I liked that most of the action, specifically Gamache’s action, took place outside of Three Pines. I don’t find Three Pines as fascinating as the writer does. Ideally, this series would just take Gamache to different parts of Quebec. Such is life.
I also liked that Penny gave Jean-Guy some run. Occasionally, she writes him as too much of a child to Gamache’s parental overseer. It was good for him to get an arc, even if it was in Three Pines.
However, the three running storylines, including the flashback from what preceded the novel, were incredibly distracting. I suppose its better than going back-and-forth on the town gossip of Three Pines but it just kept drawing me from the story and it didn’t sustain narrative momentum the way it normally does.
There are several other reasons the book loses a star…
1. The resolution from the last book was something I wasn’t a fan of.
2. Really tired of Penny writing Gamache as a martyr figure whose mistakes are still explainable and understandable. Other characters deserve empathy too.
3. I can’t say the specifics without spoiling but using Cree people, or any indigenous group, in a plot regarding violence is really problematic, especially from a writer with a platform as large as Penny’s. More than anything, that made me dock it a star. I’d go on a longer rant but I’d be spoiling an essential part of the story. Needless to say, if violence of or against indigenous folk bothers you, sit this one out.