CAN, JP, US, INT)
Written by: Louise Penny
Published by: Minotaur Books
Published on: August 27, 2013
It has been a long wait since January when I read all the previous books in this bestselling mystery series. I know longtime fans don't feel sorry for me since they have had year-long or longer waits for almost a decade! But the previous, amazing book, The Beautiful Mystery, ended on such a cliffhanger, and I needed to know how that would be resolved.
Penny is always able to bring Canadian issues, historical and contemporary, into her books in a very organic way, starting from the earliest explorers, to the government's treatment of First Nations people right now. This time she takes us back to the Depression era, and is able to condemn the despicable acts by the government of the day while giving us understanding of why they happened. This is quite a feat for a mystery book.
Penny's books are never simple mysteries. They are chronicles of Canadian history and pop culture, lectures on literature, workplace dramas, and records of small-town life. She gives us a cussing duck, highbrow "that's what he said"-esque jokes, Leonard Cohen lyrics, and frozen lake shinny. Basically everything you could possibly ask for in a mystery book. Don't forget the tissues.
This book is the best of the bunch, and that is a high commendation indeed. The last book was insightful and gave us a great closed mystery in a closed setting. This time Gamache is out in the world and all the problems he had before; enemies at work, a best friend and colleague with trying personal issues, keeping Three Pines and all of Quebec safe from murderers, are back and threatening to come to a head. Is Gamache feeling as defeated as he did in Bury Your Dead? A few pages in he tells one of his detectives "Trust me." When you read this book, keep that in mind as it goes through twists and turns and heart-stopping terror.
As soon as the book starts we find out what happened with the cliffhanger. But that doesn't mean it is immediately resolved. Penny's books are too realistic for that. But there is resolution to many plot threads from previous books, and it all comes full circle to Still Life, the first in the series. There is no cliffhanger in this book, but I am still on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one. Armand Gamache, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and all of Three Pines have wormed their way into my heart and I am not ready to part with them yet.
This is the seventh book I have reviewed for the Seventh Canadian Book Challenge.