Wednesday, September 1, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Every once in a while a book comes along that keeps you reading into the wee hours of the morning and faster than you’ve ever read a book before and all the while telling yourself to slow down so that you can prolong the pleasure. This is such a book.

“Bury Your Dead” is Louise Penny’s sixth mystery featuring Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of the Surete du Quebec.

She has crafted a beautifully written mystery with characters so skillfully drawn they come alive for the reader. When this book ends, you’ll want to read more about the characters because they feel like friends.

The city of Quebec is as much a character in Penny’s hands as Gamache and the other who populate this book. Penny beautifully describes the city so much so that you can almost believe that you, too, know the city as well as Gamache as he walks the cobblestoned streets. As Penny describes the effects of winter on the city, you may find yourself drawing covers over you to quell the cold even as the the temperatures rise to the 90s outside your home.

Penny has written a multi-layered mystery with three story lines. She deftly intertwines each plot line. She is skilled at building and maintaining the tension in each story. The story opens with Gamache having gone to Quebec to visit with his mentor after having been wounded in an attempted terrorist attack on the La Grand dam. He is drawn into an investigation of the murder of an amateur archaeologist who is on a quest to find the burial place of Champlain. While Gamache tries to recover his equilibria, he sends his assistant back to the small town of Three Pines to reopen a case that Gamache solved and saw the murderer convicted. The author follows each of these plot lines with such skill and so seamlessly that the reader barely notices the switch.

The ending is satisfying and all the loose ends of each of the plot lines are niftily tied up without being contrived or rushed.

It has been many years since I laughed out loud when reading a mystery. Penny had me guffawing when a seventy-something dignified English woman tries to speak French and ends up speaking gibberish

Do not start reading this book if you have to work the next day. This is one of those books that we long for, but only comes along once in a great while - you know, the one you can’t wait to get back to, the one you’d miss your best friend’s wedding for, the one that you forget to eat while you’re reading it.

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