Quill & Quire
When I last reviewed a Louise Penny novel in these pages (2009’s The Brutal Telling), I wondered how much longer she could spin stories of murder in her chosen setting of the cloistered, tight-knit Eastern Townships village of Three Pines, Quebec – how many local killers could be protected, then unmasked? Bury Your Dead is an admirable attempt to expand the author’s storytelling horizons. In the novel, Penny’s delightful, world-weary detective, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, questions every assumption he’s ever made in the process of coming to grips with a “terrible, terrible mistake.”
Several storylines emerge, diverge, then converge. Gamache is supposed to be on holiday with his wife in Quebec City, but gets mixed up in a perplexing and brutal killing in the Literary and Historical Society Library, a library devoted to the history of the city’s English-speaking citizens. As the plot thickens, Gamache begins to suspect that the Three Pines scion he fingered as the murderer in Penny’s previous outing is in fact innocent, and that the real culprit got away with the crime.
Penny’s plot is complicated, and much of Bury Your Dead’s middle section drags because the reader is forced to work too hard to piece everything together. But the action picks up splendidly in the novel’s final pages, as both the community of Three Pines and Gamache himself come to terms with their culpability in convicting an innocent man. Revisiting (and revising) the climax of such a recent novel is an audacious move on Penny’s part, and it works well.
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'Very powerful - Penny's best book to date ... A stunner Stephen Booth Louise Penny writes like an angel and plots like the devil. Bury Your Dead had me on tenterhooks from the first page to the last Alan Bradley Bury Your Dead has two intelligent plots and, as a bonus, you get to know a bit of Canadian history The Times The author brings the intriguing story to life using ornate descriptions Star Magazine