BookBrowse Reviews Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

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Bury Your Dead

A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, #6

by Louise Penny

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny X
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2011, 384 pages

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A multi-layered mystery set in Quebec, the 6th installment in a much-loved series

Bury Your Dead was a hit with our First Impressions readers, garnering thumbs up from all 23 of them. Here's what some of them had to say:

Author Louise Penny has hit a new high with Bury Your Dead. Always strong in character development, in this book she also proves to be a skillful storyteller, with an intricate plot that comes together beautifully at the end (Karen L). It follows Gamache and his second in command, Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir, as they recover physically and psychologically from a terrorist threat that has left four agents of the Homicide Division of the Surete du Quebec dead (Nona F). She crafts an engaging story interweaving their recent tragedy with the investigations of two murders, the history of Quebec's founding by Samuel De Champlain, the continuing centuries-old divisiveness and mistrust between the Anglos and French in Quebec, and vivid descriptions of place (Vivian H).

Penny takes readers into a darker world than she did in any of the five earlier novels in this series while keeping many of the same quirky characters and adding some delightful new ones. But this is really Chief Inspector Gamache's novel; he must come to terms with making a wrong decision that costs the life of one of his agents. Set in Quebec City during a cold Canadian winter that mirrors the coldness Gamache feels in his soul, Penny goes beyond a well-written cozy mystery to a novel that deals with how we must face the reality of our weaknesses and learn to accept them along with our successes and our strengths (Sandra H).

I think this is the best of Penny's Gamache series. Her trump card all along has been Armand Gamache and his humane philosophy toward colleagues, victims, and most of all, the perpetrators of the crimes he solves. Fear, in Gamache's opinion, is the basis for murder, and once that is understood, the criminal becomes human, not evil. When Gamache solves a case, it's as much a cause for sadness as triumph because the murderer has become someone we understand and feel for. In this book Penny has added the element of self-doubt - Gamache's realization that he is fallible and that this fallibility can have dire consequences. It's heartbreaking to see this good, kindly, competent man suffer so for being human. We know he will recover but we also know it will take time (Annie F).

Louise Penny's Gamache will remind readers of Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti. Like Leon's novels, Penny's depend on well-crafted characters and intricate plots rather than on violence and tough macho detectives (Carol G). Fans of a good mystery that keeps the reader engaged without resorting to gratuitous bloodshed will appreciate Bury Your Dead. The story is rich in characterization and setting, bringing to life tension between French and English interests in Quebec, the pain of an investigator dealing with loss of comrades, and the stark beauty of winter (Marta T). Murder mystery aficionados looking for more than a cozy or romantic mystery, who want to look into the depth of the human heart and its capacity to both wound and heal, would be well advised to look at Louise Penny's series (Nona F).

A note on the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series:
Penny provides sufficient background for the case from The Brutal Telling to allow new readers to follow Inspector Beauvoir's case, but those who have enjoyed the previous investigations of Gamache, his team, and the denizens of Three Pines will feel the greatest satisfaction and emotional impact from reading Bury Your Dead. Readers would be well rewarded by reading some prior books in the series, especially The Brutal Telling, before embarking on this excellent novel (Nona F).

Series to date

  1. Still Life (2005)
  2. Dead Cold (2006) aka A Fatal Grace
  3. The Cruellest Month (2007)
  4. The Murder Stone (2008) aka A Rule Against Murder
  5. The Brutal Telling (2009)
  6. Bury Your Dead (2010)
  7. A Trick of the Light (2011)

This review was originally published in October 2010, and has been updated for the August 2011 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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