Sunday, September 27, 2009

Review: A Rule Against Murder

While this novel by Canadian Louise Penny is an Inspector Armand Gamache mystery, it is not set in Three Pines as were the others.  It is however, every bit as tightly plotted, exquisitely written, and spell-binding as her others.

Gamache takes his beautiful wife Reine Marie to the idyllic rustic Manoir Bellechasse to celebrate their wedding anniversary (it is where they spent the first night of their honeymoon).  While he's there another family has taken over the rest of the lodge, and it soon becomes apparent that these people do not like each other very much.  They are there to commemorate their deceased father by unveiling and dedicating a statue to him.

As one would expect, there is a murder on site, and Gamache (along with his second in command, Jean-Guy Beaumont) goes about the ugly task of interviewing this most unhappy group of visitors and staff to solve the mystery.  They are an intriguing group: the chef who looks familiar to Jean Guy, and Reine Marie, the aloof maitre d', the surly summer hire, the shy and nervous gardener, the sons of the deceased (one a total snob, the other --well---), the widow of the deceased (who has re-married) and her husband, the daughter of the deceased and her child (we must question whether a child named "Bean" is male or female--I won't tell) and the proprietess who owns and runs the shop. 

Add in the ex-son-in-law (sitting in a Vancouver jail for investment fraud) and Gamache's struggles with his memories of his deceased father and this book becomes one with layer upon layer of complexity.  It is frankly magnificent.

Although this is not set in Three Pines, Penny manages to involve the villagers (Peter is the son of the deceased pater who is being memorialized) and she evokes the quiet, beautiful wilderness that is the hallmark of the other books in the series.

I think Louise Penny is going to be this generation's Agatha Christie.  She is that good.  I love her characters, I love her settings, and she is masterful at developing plot lines.  If you haven't read any of her books, take it from must.  It will be on my list of Best Reads of the Year for sure.


  1. as I am sitting here writing my review of The Brutal Telling (ok, I am watching TV and surfing the net), the first of her books I have read, I realized I am so happy to have all the rest of her books to read yet!

  2. I know how you feel...I've put the one I haven't read yet on my christmas wish list...

  3. I agree with you - Louise Penny writes an excellent book. I have this one and next waiting on my shelves. I'm anxious to get to them.


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