05 February 2011

Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny

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?
My Thoughts 
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 caf├ęs, 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!

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick


  1. Everyone seems to love Penny's work and it sounds like it's for good reason.

  2. I've been seeing this book around a lot recently. It sounds interesting, and having only been to Quebec City once I think I'd enjoy reading it. Thanks for the review.

  3. This looks interesting - I like that it's set in Canada (I've read very few books set in Canada - maybe it's just that they don't make it Down Under) and the mysteries sound interesting.

  4. Louise Penny has become a new favorite when it comes to mystery writers. I liked this one too, as well as A Brutal Telling (previous one)

  5. I really want to try LPenny but I can't decide if I want to start from the beginning of the series or just to read Brutal Telling, that is the one that caught my attention.

  6. This definitely sounds like my kind of book. I'm not familiar with this author, but will look for this series.

  7. Sounds really good. I usually like to start from the beginning of a series, but this sounds like one I'd get into!

  8. This book sounds like it's right up my street. Thanks :)

  9. I loved this too...so glad you did. Also loved what you said about 'building history within each character' - perfect!

  10. I haven't read any books in this series, but it sounds like this is a series I'd like to investigate. It sounds like the character development is really well done here, and that the mystery really pulls you along. Great review, Natalie! I am glad to hear that you liked this one!

  11. BermudaOnion - It was my first time reading her work and it will not be my last. The setting, characters - all of it is incredible.

    Suzanne - I would love to go to Quebec City! Never been, but it's certainly intriguing after reading this one!

    samstillreading - Definitely a good book to read set in Canada. The winter setting makes it that much more alluring and haunting.

    Diane, Bibliophile by the Sea - I do need to pick up Brutal Telling and also check out her others. Just reading this one has made me excited to read more.

    Marce - I can definitely say that Bury Your Dead was easy to pick up, but definitely do Brutal Telling first. I hear a lot of good things about that one, too, and it does help set up Bury Your Dead.

    Becca - Definitely check it out and let me know what you think!

    Connolly-Ahern (Col Reads) - Yes, do! Let me know if you read it!

    Nikki-ann - If you like mysteries, this is definitely one to include in your repertoire!

    Audrey - Thank you! I think Louise Penny did such a fantastic job with weaving history and background in each character. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, too!

    Zibilee - Thanks, Heather! It is definitely one that the maturity of character development really solidifies and adds to the story. Each scene easily flows from one to the next! I highly recommend!

  12. This is a terrific series, just discovered it last year. I've really gotten caught up in the lives of that village. Boy, would I love to live there. (Of course it does seem to be the murder capital of the Canadian countryside, but, well, no place is perfect.) Penny is such a fine writer. My favorites, so far, have been the first three or so books, but they're all worth reading. Gamache rules. I can't wait to see what she does next.

  13. Sheila (Bookjourney) - I highly recommend it. It definitely takes you away into a different world.

    Yvette - It would be an interesting place to live in that village, although they do tend to have such a high murder rate for a low population. Perhaps just visiting would be better! I look forward to reading more of her work in the near future.

  14. The whole series is wonderful. BURY YOUR DEAD was my top book of 2010. Such a treat to start a new Louise Penny book.

  15. I do enjoy a good crime fiction book and given that this is set in a place I know little about, that makes it even more appealing.

  16. I've read a few of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series and really enjooyed them! I found intriguing the contrast of civilized characters and a beautiful, charming locale with the violence & brutality of the crime.

    I was happy to read that you thought the characters in Bury the Dead are solid and well-written and the stort has some interesting and unexpected revelations.

    I am really looking forward to reading this book. Thank you for a great review!