The crunch of snow. The wind howling and swirling the landscape into a gray blur. One man, walking with his dog in Quebec City, haunted by his past.
In this engaging sixth book in the Gamache series released last fall, Bury Your Dead is the story of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, who has traveled to Quebec City to recuperate from an event no cop should ever have to go through. Surrounding himself with the antique books at the Literary and Historical Society, Gamache throws himself into researching the battles which established the city, and develops his own scholarly theories to while away the time. Or, more accurately, to distract himself from his ghosts.
Two primary mysteries are investigated within Bury Your Dead, and even a third soon becomes entangled within one of them. The first is the discovery in Quebec City of the body of a local eccentric, Augustin Renaud, who was known as an amateur archaeologist hell-bent and unapologetic on locating the missing remains of the city's founder, Samuel de Champlain. Renaud's body is found unceremoniously and slightly covered in the basement of the Literary and Historical Society in which Gamache has been spending his time. Finding himself now immersed in an investigation on request by the local police, Gamache is surrounded by more than enough potential suspects, each of them eclectic and unique in their own right. He also simultaneously begins to investigate the reason why Renaud may have been at the historical library in the first place.
Another agent on Gamache's team, also on leave, is Inspector Jean-guy Beauvoir. Also haunted by the same episodes plaguing Gamache, Beauvoir is unofficially asked by him to return back to Three Pines, a hidden city in Canada to investigate a case once believed as closed - a murder of a hermit who had a house full of expensive historical antiques. Was the man convicted of the crime really the killer?
Although Bury Your Dead may be part of a series, I found it comfortable and substantially easy to fall into the story. Just enough history for each character is pulled in from prior Gamache stories so that the reader isn't confused. It can certainly function as a stand alone. And even though there are two mysteries investigated, Louise Penny successfully layers each story with solid characters and rich writing so that no detail is missed - you can feel the crunch of snow underfoot as Gamache walks with his dog, Henri to the Lit & His (as it's called in the book), and you can feel the ambiance of the cozy cafés, enriched with the robust smells of coffee and sandwiches.
Louise Penny builds history, not only within the cases, but within each character - these are not superficial characters embedded to move the story along. Instead, each is important to the development of the eventual discoveries which both uncover astonishing and most unexpected truths that, in one case, made me gasp out loud in surprise. Bury Your Dead is a story resonating deeply of individual betrayal and secrets, rounding out into quite the perfect mystery to spend a Saturday afternoon with.
I recommend this for those who enjoy crime fiction mysteries and especially unique locales, entrenched with deep history and swirling with the sights and sounds that allows readers to virtually tour Quebec City and Three Pines. Food and drink are beautifully described, and the visual aspects of a snow-covered city are easily seen and felt. Although dealing with murder, it is not graphically detailed. You may also consider visiting Louise Penny's site to get a quick audio walk-through of the proper pronunciation of the characters' French names. I am looking forward to catching up with more of Louise Penny's books.Visit the author's site by clicking here.
Visit the author's blog by clicking here.
For an audio pronunciation guide to character names, click here.
FTC Disclosure: I received this copy from Ann-Marie Nieves with Get Red PR for my honest review. Thank you!
Coffee and a Book Chick