Review: Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

bury-your-dead-by-louise-penny

Series: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #6

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Setting: Quebec City & Three Pines, Canada

Source: Audiobook, Library

Audiobook Narrator: Ralph Cosham

Audiobook Length: 12 hours, 43 minutes

Publishing Date: 2010

Synopsis: It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society – where an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

Although he is supposed to be on leave, Gamache cannot walk away from a crime that threatens to ignite long-smoldering tensions between the English and the French. Meanwhile, he is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. “It doesn’t make sense,” Olivier’s partner writes every day. “He didn’t do it, you know.” As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive the terrible event of his own past before he can bury his dead. 

This is the most personal book about Chief Inspector Gamache I’ve read so far. It shows Gamache’s integrity, honesty, guilt, his feelings of betrayal. I think it’s also the most powerful book in this series so far. Irony, too.

Background

This is the book after the arrest of Olivier. Olivier has recently been convicted of murder. Olivier’s partner, Gabri, has sent a letter to Gamache every day telling Gamache of Olivier’s innocence. Gamache is convinced of Olivier’s guilt, but sends Beauvoir to Three Pines to investigate further just in case. Gamache doesn’t go himself because he is in Quebec City visiting his retired mentor, Emile Comeau and going to the English library to research Captain Cook and what he might have had to do with Quebec City. A murder occurs in the English library and with Gamache’s excellent English he is brought into the investigation by both the English and the French.

Gamache’s reason for visiting his mentor and his extended stay in Quebec City came as the result of a large police raid Gamache led to free a kidnapped police officer. This story is told in flashbacks by Gamache as he remembers what happened. He feels a great deal of guilt about his role in this raid. Apparently, a number of police officers died.

My thoughts

This was such a well-written book that it was a joy to read. My favorite of the series so far. I’ve never been to Quebec City, but it’s a place I would love to visit–even though I don’t speak French.

I always like the way the differences between the English and French show up in Ms. Penny’s books. I have been to Montreal and I have to admit I was surprised at the amount of French spoken in the city and the problems we had not speaking French. I have a feeling that some of the people felt that if we were visiting where they live we should speak their chosen language. (I agree–though I’m terrible at foreign languages. I took four years of German and we lived in Germany for three years and I still speak really bad German.)

I love the way history was woven into the narrative. Gamache is researching Captain Cook at the English library. There is also quite a bit about the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and Samuel de Champlain. I didn’t know any of this information before I read about it in the book and then looked up a little more information about Quebec City and its history. I have heard of Lake Champlain, of course, but didn’t think about the reason it was named. I blame this on growing up in Oregon and learning the history of the Pacific Northwest when I was in school (it did include French explorers and fur traders at least!)

Louise Penny also did an excellent job weaving the three mysteries and narratives into the story. I liked that we still got to visit Three Pines even though Gamache was in Quebec City. Inspector Beauvoir was more of an individual character instead of an appendage of Gamache in this book. It was nice to see him grow and change a bit. And also to understand his motivations a little more.

I understand why Gamache felt so guilty and understand why he’s so devastated when a video of the raid is released to the public. He receives some very good advice toward the end of the book and I’m looking forward to the next book to see how he’s doing. I ached for Gamache in this book and for his wife Reine-Marie. She and Gamache love each other so much. She fears for him and feels helpless in many ways. But she’s also honest and courageous.

The narration of the book is excellent. The narrator sounded as though he pronounced the French names and words very well (though I admit I don’t really know)! I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook and felt it added to my enjoyment of this mystery.

My rating: A

Narration rating: A

Awards Won

  • Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel (2011)
  • Anthony Award for Best Novel (2011)
  • Dilys Award (2011)
  • Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel (2011)
  • Agatha Award (2010)
  • Nero Award (2011)

Reading Challenge

Author: Jan

I love to read--especially mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I also love blogging, photography, gardening, playing Mah Jonng, reading with a cat on my lap, throwing a ball for a dog, creating cards to send to family and friends, reading book blogs, using my computer.

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