Monday, January 19, 2009

A Rule Against Murder

This is not an unbiased book review. I'm a big fan of Louise Penny's Armand Gamache mysteries. In the first books, beginning with the award-winning Still Life, she introduced us to Gamache, the Chief Homicide Inspector for the Sûreté in Quebec, and the timeless village of Three Pines. She's taken us through three seasons filled with murder investigations, and a emotionally draining threat hanging over Gamache's head. We were ready for a break, right along with her detective.

A Rule Against Murder takes Gamache and the readers into an Agatha Christie traditional vacation, with the dark overtones that Penny masters. For thirty-four years, Armand and his wife, Reine-Marie, have taken their summer vacation to coincide with their wedding anniversary on Canada Day. This year, as always, they planned their retreat at Manoir Bellechasse, a quiet resort in the woods, with a wonderful chef, a superb maître d', and a beloved owner. They weren't planning on the disruption of the Finney family reunion, or an unusual death.

As in a Christie mystery, Penny's tribute is a story set in an isolated lodge, with a limited group of suspects, family members and retainers, with the detective on the spot. Fortunately, Armand Gamache has the added expertise of his squad, familiar characters to readers. And, two members of the Finney family are familiar, when Three Pines residents, Peter and Clara Morrow, show up late for their reunion.

Penny's story has extra layers that always make her mysteries fascinating. Readers who hungered for more information about Reine-Marie will be pleased with the time spent on Armand's family life. His family is quite a contrast to the divided, unhappy Finneys.

The conversations in Penny's books are always treasures. The owner's comment that there is a rule against murder at the Manoir Bellechasse leads to a telling story. The sculptor, Pelletier, has a provocative comment, that God is a serial killer. And, there's my favorite comment, when Gamache talks about his wife, a librarian. "But you want murderous feelings? Hang around librarians," confided Gamache. "All that silence. Gives them ideas."

Louise Penny is a master of the traditional mystery. Armand Gamache might have been forced to take a busman's holiday, but it was a vacation readers will treasure, in A Rule Against Murder.

Louise Penny's website is www.louisepenny.com

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2009. ISBN 9780312377021 (hardcover), 336p.

15 comments:

Kerrie said...

This sounds excellent Lesa. I'm a bit behind in the series, and really need to get back to reading them

Lesa said...

And, as I said, Kerrie, this is my favorite of all of them. So, you need to catch up! (grin)

Joy said...

Can't wait!

Molly said...

I have just discovered the wonderful world of mysteries and while I have not heard of this author, your review of this book leads me to believe that she is one whom I will really enjoy. Should I attempt to read the series in order (my usual preference) or should I begin with this one since you think it is the best?

Lesa said...

It's terrific, Joy!

Lesa said...

Hi Molly,

I would start at the beginning of the series. With some series, if you start at the beginning, you read a weaker book. You won't find that with Still Life. It deserved every award it received. It's an original series, with a wonderful character and setting.

If you start at the beginning, you'll meet all of the characters, get to know Three Pines, watch Armand Gamache's problems, and, understand this book even better. I'd start with Still Life.

And, I hope you enjoy the series as much as I do!

caryn said...

Sigh, aalthough I managed to get a British edition of this book, I still haven't read the one previous in the series. Anyway, I enjoyed the review and will have to bump the 3rd book up in the TBR pile to get to this one.
St. Louis was totally rocking with the Cardinal win yesterday. Some people because they are still Big Red fans from when the team was in St. Louis, but everyone I think delighted for Kurt Warner. He still is hugely popular here. Such a nice guy. Never a whiff of scandelous behavior etc.
Caryn

Lesa said...

Quite different from Matt Leinart's reputation, Caryn. I'm glad St. Louis was celebrating. My husband was out yesterday afternoon, and said the roads were empty as a holiday during the game.

You do need to move that third book up in your TBR pile.

Luanne said...

What a great review Lesa! Penny is a wonderful Canadian author - glad you're a big fan - I am too.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Luanne. And, I didn't put the best part. I'm going to dinner with her tomorrow night, along with a couple friends!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Terrific writer and such a nice person.

Lesa said...

I totally agree with you, Patti, on both comments.

Kay said...

This will be next up after THE SKY TOOK HIM. Such a wonderful time having dinner, meeting Louise, and attending her event. Just great!

Lesa said...

And, Louise mentioned yesterday how much she enjoyed gettng the chance to spend time with you! It was great, Kay. I'm so glad you were able to get to Phoenix right now. I"m sure we'll see each other again, here!

Anonymous said...

the book a rule against murder was not that great to me. I love mystery books that keep you on the edge of your seat and quite frankly this one did not. I was hoping at the end of each chapter to read something that would move me to want to go to the next chapter but i got nothing. I actually wanted after reading the book chapter after chapter i wanted to finish it, not because it was good but because i just wanted to be done already. Maybe i will have better luck with her other books