Title: Bury Your Dead
Author: Louise Penny
Publisher: Minotaur Books, 2010
Hardcover, 384 pages
Genre: Police Procedural, #6 Armand Gamache mystery
Source: Amazon Vine
First Line: Up the stairs they raced, taking them two at a time, trying to be as quiet as possible.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come to the beautiful old city of Quebec during Winter Carnival to recuperate from an investigation gone horrifically wrong. He stays with a dear friend, he takes his dog for walks along the streets, he frequents favorite restaurants, and he does a bit of research at the English-operated Literary and Historical Society. But death intrudes even in that sanctuary, and everyday a letter arrives from the village of Three Pines which tells Gamache, "He didn't do it, you know."
I was absolutely thrilled with Penny's first novel, Still Life, and-- incredibly-- each book in this series has grown stronger and stronger. Readers new to Penny will rejoice that they don't need to start with book one. Although characters from previous books make appearances in Bury Your Dead, it isn't necessary to read the other books in order to enjoy this one. Readers who are well aware of Penny's talent will simply rejoice that there's a new book to read. (We know the treat we have in store.)
At the beginning of this book, we are told that Gamache and other members of his team have been seriously injured in a previous investigation, but Penny wisely doles out the information about this in a slow but steady stream. A strength in this book is that-- although I was dying to know everything about this investigation-- I didn't become angered by the author's slipping away into other plot threads. The other plot threads themselves are very strong.
There is information about the French and English communities in Quebec, both past and current. The treasure hunt revolving around Samuel de Champlain is fascinating. Gamache sending his second-in-command, Jean Guy Beauvoir, to Three Pines to reopen an investigation introduces new readers to that marvelous village of characters that is so beloved by those of us who already know it.
This series is consistently excellent, and is one that I always recommend to others. Many mysteries seem to focus so strongly on death and past mistakes that they never rise above the two. There are two sentences in Penny's acknowledgments that tell readers a great deal about the series as a whole: "Like the rest of the Chief Inspector Gamache books, Bury Your Dead is not about death, but about life. And the need to both respect the past and let it go." This is why these books rise above: they have a humanity that so many of the others lack.