I learned my lesson last year when I reviewed the previous Chief Inspector Gamache book by Louise Penny, The Brutal Telling.
You see, I loved The Brutal Telling and quite literally gushed about it.
But I’d written the review from my perspective as a reader who had started with book one in the series; I came to The Brutal Telling with a fully developed love of the characters.
This makes a difference. I know, because some other wonderful bloggers I know picked up The Brutal Telling as their first introduction to the series, and the book wasn’t nearly as wonderful for them as it was for me.
So, I’ve now read the latest installment in the series: Bury Your Dead. And yes, I’m going to gush about it. Because Bury Your Dead is so very, very good.
There are two mysteries involved, plus a little bit of a historical mystery thrown in for good measure.
Those of you who’ve read the previous books in the series: you’re in for a treat.
Those of you who haven’t read the previous books in the series: I’m smarter this time around. I’m going to suggest you start with Still Life, the first book in the series, and read your way through to Bury Your Dead.
(And I envy you, because you’re in for such a glorious ride; yes, the Inspector Gamache books are that good.)
If you’ve read most of the series, but haven’t read The Brutal Telling yet, don’t read Bury Your Dead until you’ve read The Brutal Telling, because Bury Your Dead contains a massive spoiler.
And finally, if (or perhaps, when) you’re fully involved in the series, and have read all the previous books, then, like me, you might:
- find yourself tearing up already by page 18, when you still don’t have a clue what’s happened to Gamache and his team, but you already know how Gamache is feeling about it, and it’s making you feel just awful.
- find yourself riding an emotional roller coaster ride, until it becomes more clear what probably did happen, at which point you will be very sad.
- hope against hope that perhaps it isn’t as bad as what you’re thinking, even right up to the bitter end, with the result that you’ll end the book with tears in your eyes.
Aside from this emotional backstory, the mysteries themselves are very good, too. The ending to one of the mystery threads made me feel very glad indeed. Although, as with all of the previous Gamache mysteries, the murderers are not “bad guys”, not people you love to hate, but rather real people, with both good and bad sides to them. So as always, the denouements are rather bittersweet.
And from a writer’s perspective, you’ll love the way Penny has incorporated flashbacks into the story. There are some things that stretch your credulity somewhat, but I am quite willing to put up with a bit of stretching when it comes to Gamache.
This is a very good read indeed. I made the mistake of grabbing the book at 1:30 am, when I was about 2/3rds of the way through it, with the intention of just reading “a few more chapters”. I finished reading at 3:30 am and as a result, am very tired today! But it was well worth it.