Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny

by Rebeca on October 9, 2010

Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel (Three Pines Mysteries)
By Louise Penny
Minotaur Books
384 Pages
List Price: $24.99; Amazon Price: $14.35

In the sixth mystery featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, Penny starts the story with a bang, then quickly fast forwards to Gamache in Quebec City during Carnival. Gamache is not there to celebrate, but instead to recuperate from his emotional injuries of an investigation gone wrong.

During his stay with his former mentor, Emile Comeau, Gamache spends his days playing with his dog, eating well, and spending time in Quebec City’s Literary and Historical Society’s old library reading about the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, a battle between the British and the French, but Gamache’s R&R is disturbed when the body of August Renaud, an amateur historian and archeologist, is found in the basement of the Lit and His. Renaud, known for his obsessive quest in trying to  find Samuel de Champlain’s remains, the father of Quebec, apparently had asked permission to dig up the basement–a request that had been denied.

Although Gamache starts as an impartial observer into Renaud’s murder, slowly he starts investigating who could have killed the tenacious historian. When he is not making inquiries concerning Renaud, Gamache is recalling the tragedy that brought him to Quebec City–the murder of several of his officers by a panicked pot-growing farmer. In the meantime, Gamache’s right hand man, Jean Guy Beauvoir, is looking at reopening a case of a man that may have been wrongly accused of murder.

Penny has effortlessly woven these three different storylines, and, although the murder of August Renaud is the main story, she puts equal weight into the other two sub-plots, leaving readers wanting to know what happens next as each story transitions into the next one.

Her use of history along with contemporary politics and relations between French Canadians and those of English descent, induces the reader to learn more about the state of affairs in Canada, particularly in Quebec.  But it’s her vivid descriptions of old Quebec City that makes one want to book a flight and spend time in the quaint old city.

In spite of the believable characters and dialogue, there are some craft issues that might confuse readers, and those were point of view violations that suddenly shifted from one character’s thoughts to another one’s. However, to be fair, I was given an advanced reader’s copy, and hopefully this transgression was corrected.

Bury Your Dead is a well-structured mystery with each storyline ending in a satisfactory manner. It will appeal to all mystery readers and keep them guessing until the very end.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ardee-ann October 9, 2010 at 6:23 pm

I just learned of this book’s existence today. The title caught my attention. I did not have time to look it up. Thank you for the compelling review. I will have to see if this book is in my local library.

Glad to see you reviewing books again.



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