A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

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8116565

Series: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #4

Kindle Edition, 433 pages

Published: Minotaur, 2009  (1st published 2008)

Setting: Québec

Literary Awards: Arthur Ellis Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009)

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Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie are spending their summer holiday at Québec’s isolated, lake-front Manoir Bellechasse. They meet Irene Finney, the matriarch of a wealthy, dysfunctional family, and her four middle-aged children.  When a tragedy occurs, Gamache investigates and finds himself drawn into the Finneys’ cold, uncommunicative world. They are a family shrouded in silence and driven by mutual animosity and bitterness.

This engrossing novel is written with Penny’s characteristic gift for descriptive detail and flair for creating interesting, eccentric — even bizarre — characters. I could feel the sweltering heat of summer and imagine the secluded spot by the lake. Although most of the characters weren’t likeable, they held my interest as they gradually revealed their secrets, regrets, and vulnerabilities.

We also learn more about Gamache’s history, including the loss of his parents at an early age and the story of his disgraced father, a man who revealed both fear and quiet courage during the Second World War. This added greater depth to his character and helped fill the space left by the end of the Arnot affair, which was explored in the first three books.

Penny is skilled at describing human relationships, revealing how they are shaped by our memories and perceptions, misunderstandings, and the things we choose not to reveal. She also has a knack for illuminating the cracks and vulnerabilities that exist even in loving relationships.

This is a clever, entertaining novel that will appeal to fans of cozy mysteries.

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