An obsessive historian's quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it? Although he is supposed to be on leave, Chief Inspector Gamache cannot walk away from a crime that threatens to ignite long-smoldering tensions between the English and the French. Meanwhile, he is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder.
There are three plot lines in this novel, starting out independently and growing together toward the end. First, we have Gamache visiting his mentor in Quebec City. He's recuperating from something terrible involving him and his agents, leaving many wounded, and many dead. The reader does not know what happened. This is gradually revealed through a series of flashbacks throughout the book.
Second, Gamache stumbles upon a crime scene in Quebec City. The investigator recognizes him and asks for Gamache's help as a consultant. There is a lot of history brought in, because the death has to do with the search for Samuel de Champlain's burial place. As Gamache studies this crime, he is finally able to discuss the tragic investigation, his injuries, and the loss of life. It's the beginning of his healing process. He learns to 'bury his dead'.
He also comes to accept his imperfections. Instead of dwelling on his own mistakes, he learns, as does the rest of his team, that he can be a great Chief Inspector even though he is not always right. (A lesson that all perfectionists do well to learn).
The third thread stars Inspector Beauvoir. Gamache quietly sends him back to Three Pines to recuperate, but also to re-open the case from "A Brutal Telling." He's not 100% satisfied and realizes he may have made a mistake. We get to know Beauvoir better, and Beauvoir realizes he may have mis-judged the people of Three Pines.
I gave this book 5 stars because it is, as they say, 'the complete package'. It contains mystery, love, friendship, death, sadness, regret, jealousy, revenge, forgiveness, reunion, history, mistakes, apologies, joy, and healing. Penny keeps it real, no sugar coating, magic, or happily ever afters. Just real people with real emotions.
Not only has this series not wandered off into inanity, as have so many other "good first books," it's gotten better with age. The first few were good (with a minor dip at the fourth), but these last two have been wonderful. Penny is not afraid to be daring with her characters, to step outside the comfort zone of a cozy and make them suffer, to make us dislike them a little and then, sometimes, to rescue them...even to kill them. Unlike the flat characters of so many mysteries, I find the individuals who inhabit these pages human.
Bury Your Dead is much less a murder mystery than are the previous five. Oh, there's a murder all right…but it's much less center stage. This one is about loss and grief and trying to cope with both. She takes a couple of her characters and gives a deeper look into who they are and it's very well done.
Is there anything I can find disappointing? Not really. Perhaps that there's less of the town of Three Pines in this book than in most of the stories (though certainly more than in A Rule Against Murder). On one hand, I missed having it around throughout the book, right in the foreground, with Ruth and Rosa stalking and waddling around. Yet, on the other hand, I'm appreciative of the fact that it would get a little silly if all of the crimes were set there and a well-behaved town with a tiny population suddenly became the murder capital of the free world.
Strongly recommended if you like mysteries, but definitely do not start with this one—read the books in order.
The books in this series are part police procedural, part psychological mystery, and part village cozy, and this one is part historical mystery. Yet Penny's books transcend genre. Her writing doesn't feel formulaic. Her books are not so much about death as about life -- the value of others' lives and of one's own. Gamache's respect for life is a key to his success as an investigator. He observes, questions, and meditates until he identifies the person among all the suspects who values his or her own life so far above others that he or she is willing to kill to preserve it.
Penny's respect for her readers is evident in her spare writing style. She knows her characters intimately, and she shows us their thoughts and emotions without wordy descriptions. She doesn't need a lot of words to communicate the story. She knows we'll understand. And we love her for it.
If you're new to this series, please don't start with this book. It is inseparably connected to the previous book in the series, The Brutal Telling, and that book should be read first.
This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.
For those that follow the series, this book is set several months after the ending of The Brutal Telling and we are informed that Olivier has been convicted of manslaughter and is in prison, and that Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as well as several of his team are recuperating from a deadly attack for which we have no specifics at the beginning.
This is a multi-level story intricately woven together so that the reader is drawn deeper and farther along without realizing the tug to reach the end will completely engulf them. First we have Armand Gamache staying with his old mentor in Quebec City incognito. When he is recognized at the scene of a suspicious death, the officer in charge asks for his assistance and reluctantly, Gamache agrees. Next, we have Gamache questioning himself and the conviction of Olivier in Three Pines so he sends Inspector Beauvoir to the tiny village to reinvestigate off the record. Lastly, we have the mysterious attack which injured and killed members of the Sûreté du Québec. Who was killed, who was hurt, how badly- are the questions that are constantly running through the reader's thoughts as the story evolves.
To answer any or all of these questions in a review would only detract from the thrill of reading this book for yourself. The majestic writing of the anguish and fear of the Chief Inspector and his desire to continue on after his ordeal only add to the reader's respect and admiration for the character and his gentle spirit.
I have been blessed with the sheer pleasure of reading every book where Armand Gamache appears as the central character and hopefully, I will continue to be blessed in the future with more books by Louise Penny. They are all sensational! I couldn't give it less than 5 Stars!
Before the story begins in Bury Your Dead, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his homicide team at the Surete are involved in a shoot-out for some reason. The details of how that came about and what happened that day come out because it isn't something easily forgotten. Gamache is resting and recovering physically, emotionally, and mentally. Part of that involves replaying his decisions that got him to this point and part requires telling the story to someone.
He goes to Quebec to visit his former superior and mentor. While there he is doing some reading into historical events of Canada and Quebec. This takes him to the English Literary and HIstorical Society. Then a body is found in the basement of the Lit and His. Gamache certainly speaks better English than the local police investigator so he is asked to help the first day. Of course, he gets interested and continues asking questions and following clues.
Meanwhile, he asks someone to return to Three Pines to make sure he didn't miss anything in the case solved in The Brutal Telling. So, we do indeed get to spend time with Clara, Myrna, Gabri, and the ever wonderful Ruth Zardo. It is winter, there is lots of snow and ice and life goes on.
I believe these books get better as the series progresses. There were moments of pain and sorrow, descriptions of life in snowy, wintry Canada, and some great humor as well as the English and French try to communicate. Definitely meets my expectations for a great book!
The opening scene gives us only the barest of details about Gamache's wounding. Penny chooses to string the reader along through a series of flashbacks during the entire book before we get the whole story. So, there are three different mysteries for the reader to follow. But WAIT!! Gamache also decides that he may have made a mistake and arrested the wrong suspect for a murder committed in book #5 The Brutal Telling, so he sends Jean Guy Beauvoir back to Three Pines to unofficially re-open the investigation and see if he could have been mistaken.
With any other author, trying to weave these four different mysteries into a coherent story, and trying TO READ this melange would have been impossible. Penny however presents us with a tour de force- a magical, seamless, well-paced, and elegantly written group of vignettes that emerge as a single tremendous read. I was stunned when I realized what she was doing, as I read, and read, and read.....I could not put the book down. As if these four sub-plots weren't enough of a treat, she also gives us a subtle, but enchanting history of Quebec, and weaves in a presentation of the current situation with separatists and those who favor a united Canada.
The only caveat I have for others is that it is probably better to read at least The Brutal Telling first, if not all the others. She has certainly backfilled enough that it isn't absolutely necessary, but it would also limit the depth of the enriching experience the reader has from this book. I'm not sure where she can go from here, but the emotional growth of the two main characters, Armand Gamache and Jean Guy Beauvoir, that we see in this story portend well for future works.
The change of setting was refreshing: I've never been to Quebec, and certainly want to go now. The quiet return to Three Pines was even more comforting. It's still a place we'd all like to live. And Louise Penny is still the author we most want to have on our nightstand as Canadian blizzards howl outside our window.
“Gamache nodded. It was what made his job so fascinating, and so difficult. How the same person could be both kind and cruel, compassionate and wretched. Unraveling a murder was more about getting to know the people than the evidence. People who were contrary and contradictory, and who often didn’t even know themselves.” (226)
Two story lines run parallel to the central mystery. Jean Guy Beauvoir, also on leave, is in Three Pines where Gamache has him revisiting Olivier Brule’s conviction in the death of the “Hermit” whose remote cabin was discovered to have been full of valuable artifacts. But why, I wondered, were both Gamache and Beauvoir on leave? This couldn’t be coincidence – something had to have gone wrong on the job. Indeed – and this mystery is addressed in the final story line. Brilliantly, Penny reeled me in for over three hundred pages, bit by bit divulging the answers to my questions. Up front, we learn that the two Sûreté officers are rehabilitating from serious injuries sustained in a recent mishap which left several officers dead, and several more injured …
Louise Penny’s Three Pines series just keeps getting better! I want to quit my job, hole up in my house, and read the rest of them sans interruption. Highly recommended.
My sister has this habit of keeping books so she can read them over - not usually the whole thing, but portions here and there, reading the beginning, or a favorite chapter, or the ending over again. Now that I've finished Bury Your Dead, I understand a little better why she would do that. The story lines - the historical and current mystery Gamache works on, Beauvoir's story, and the revelation of just what happened to cause Gamache to take a leave of absence - are intricate and perfectly paced. I experienced a range of emotions following these characters, coming the closest I have in years to crying over a book. I want to start all over again to tease out the details and start to understand the chronology of some events that are given out piecemeal, in an order dictated by what I need to know about the characters and their choices rather than a time frame. An incredibly satisfying read that will stay with me a long time, Bury Your Dead is, in my opinion, the best of this series so far.
In this book, Penny weaves together three separate plots, each well-developed and each laden with suspense. That’s far different from the earlier entries which pretty much concentrated on one plot line although some of them referenced earlier scenarios that played a role in the narrative. But the sophistication of this book is unparalleled. Tense drama with lots of suspense and this was the first time that I, personally, would put a Penny book into the “can’t put down” category.
The Chief Inspector and his right hand man Jean Guy Beauvoir are recovering from wounds suffered in a recent investigation gone wrong. While recuperating at the home of a friend in Quebec City, Gamache is asked to assist in a case of the murder of a fanatical historian, who has dedicated his life to searching for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel deChamplain. At the same time, Gamache asks Beauvoir to re-open an investigation of a previous case in Three Pines. Three plots, three settings and an absolutely fabulous look at the history of Quebec combine to produce a very erudite mystery. Keep ‘em coming Ms. Penny. I’ll keep reading ‘em. Very highly recommended.
Meanwhile, every day, Gamache receives a letter from his friend Gabri in Three Pines, and every letter ends with a question that leads Gamache to wonder about his conclusion of an earlier case. He calls Jean Guy, who is itching to get away from his over-solicitous wife, and asks him to go to Three Pines on an unofficial basis and poke around.
Louise Penny has done it again. Once I started this book, I stayed up until it was finished. Penny puts the three stories together in a most compelling way, and, as usual, we find out more about the characters of Gamache and Beauvoir. Three Pines plays a much smaller role in this story, but all the usual characters are there, and new alliances are made. Penny has woven in some fascinating history of Quebec and the search for the body of Samuel de Champlain, one of the founders. She admits up front to taking a few liberties, but nothing major, and from one who knew nothing about that history, it didn’t seem to make a difference.
The humor, the pathos, the realness of the characters—it’s all here, and I can’t wait for her next book.
I have read, and loved, the previous five Louise Penny mysteries, and I wouldn't recommend picking this one up unless you have done so. Of course, if you have done so the emotional wringer this one puts you through will be that much greater.
The mystery in this is not as developed, nor as central to the plot, as in the previous books in the series. It's not intended to be - this book is really about the toll death takes on survivors and communities. The horrible loss of an officer, and the attempt of two of the survivors to cope, is the main theme, but it is surrounded by characters trying to come to terms with the death of historical figures, of ways of life, and even the loss of pets. There is a beautiful brief scene in which our hero and his dog meet a man whose own dog died a few days earlier, and that is when I gave up and just started crying.
It's not a breathless whodunit, and anyone looking for that will be disappointed. Nor does it focus on the delightful village of Three Pines - it's set in Montreal - or, for the most part, the villagers we have come to love. It's about the aftermath of a mystery, really, and it's heartbreaking.
Bury Your Dead is three different plots carefully intertwined together. Chief Inspector Gamache is in Quebec solving a murder is an English historical society, while his detective Jean Guy is back at Three Pines looking over an old case. Both Gamache and Jean Guy are not acting in an official capacity though -- they are on medical leave because of some disaster that happened recently in the Surete. Penny cleverly intertwines these three stories, bouncing back and forth in location and time, using several different narrators to carefully build up the tension to the final reveal. I loved this book! Rarely do I give a mystery 5 stars, but this one was brilliant.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his second-in-command Jean Guy Beauvoir are recuperating from injuries sustained in a terrorist/hostage situation. Gamache goes to Quebec City to visit his retired mentor Emile Comeau. He visits the Literary and Historical Society's Library on most days. When the body of a man obsessed with locating Samuel de Champlain's remains turns up dead in the library's basement, Gamache joins the investigation in an unofficial capacity. Meanwhile, Gabri, from the village of Three Pines, sends Gamache daily letters which are forwarded to him in Quebec City, which ask "Why would Olivier move the body?" Gamache finally gives in, calling Beauvoir and asking him to secretly reopen the investigation. Interwoven throughout both stories are the memories of that horrible terrorist incident.
The author has done an excellent job weaving three stories into one. The characters are well-drawn. There are so many layers to this novel. I really could not put the book down. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning just to finish it! Louise Penny has written what may be her best novel to date.
The review is based on an advance reader's edition provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program with the expectation that a review would be written.
Inspector Gamache continues to impress with his patient perusal of facts and insightful questions that get right to the heart of a mystery. However, the shaken and fragile Gamache now presented is a surprising figure, all the more so because it is not the self-assured inspector that readers have come to know and love. There is something immensely sympathetic about this extremely capable man fighting his misplaced guilt and anguish at the loss of life of those under his command that makes him even more likable because it highlights his humanity as opposed to his almost supernatural deductive reasoning.
Speaking of the murders, the death of a Francophone historian in the farthest basement of the Anglo Literary and Historical Society pits the two factions against each other and introduces the reader to the very real sense of disconnection Quebec feels towards the rest of Canada. At the heart of the murder is the mystery of the missing remains of Samuel de Champlain, something that remains unsolved today. Ms. Penny uses Bury Your Dead to educate readers about the importance of the Father of New France and the ongoing but much more subtle battle that continues to this day between the French and the English. The historical elements are every bit as fascinating as the murder mystery itself.
Also playing a large part of Bury Your Dead is the continuation of the mystery in Three Pines from the book XX. After the costly mistakes made in the still-unknown tragedy from which Gamache is recovering, he second-guesses his actions and conclusions drawn from that case, even though the case has already gone to trial and a jury has found Olivier guilty. This second-guessing forces him to request Detective Beauvoir, another familiar face and recovering from his own injuries from the tragedy, to go back to Three Pines and look at the case from a new angle. In true Gamache fashion, he eventually gets his men and learns something about humanity in the process.
Bury Your Dead is as much about forgiveness and recovery as it is about finding a murderer or two. Gamache must find a way to forgive himself for his mistakes that cost the lives of some of his men but ultimately saved more. Beauvoir must recover from more than just his physical injuries if he hopes to fulfill his superior’s request. The English and the French Quebecoise each made their own mistakes over the years that require forgiveness and their own recovery. It is an interesting plot in which the murders take a back seat to all of the healing that needs to happen among the key characters.
Old Quebec City comes to life in all of its wintry grandeur through Ms. Penny’s beautiful descriptions. Her imagery urges readers to visit this charming city. Even with the discussions of thick parkas, wind so cold that it causes tears to spring up and then freeze on cheeks, the very real possibility of freezing to death, and myriad piles of deep snow, she makes all of Quebec, but particularly the fictional town of Three Pines and old Quebec City, immensely appealing, and the entire story is more satisfying because it.
Bury Your Dead is a very satisfactory continuation to an already-delightful series. Inspector Gamache is lovable in his quaintness and impressive in his detective skills, while the fragility he now displays only serves to make him more realistic and human. The tragedy that haunts Gamache prevents him from remaining the stereotypically aloof genius detective, and it strengthens the novel to have the most celebrated detective in Canada fallible. For a cozy mystery with a little more substance and an amazing amount of heart, one need look no further than the ever-enjoyable Inspector Gamache series and Bury Your Dead.
Acknowledgments: Thank you to LibraryThing’s Early Reader Program for my review copy!
I started with A Brutal Telling, book five, and found it easily able to stand on its own, so read it first, please. Then I read books one and two while I waited for Bury Your Dead to arrive. By now, I have read all but book three, and am hopelessly addicted.
In A Fatal Grace, book two of the series, Inspector Armand Gamache tries to be mentor to a young agent who struggles to meet his expectations in the Surete. In a rare moment of honest and intimate conversation, the agent admits her overwhelming drive to make up for the misdeeds of an uncle who failed her entire family and caused the deaths of many. Gamache’s advice to her is three words: “Bury your dead.” His meaning was clear. Some memories are not meant to kept alive, because they haunt and hurt.
In book six, Penny has taken this theme and examined it in all its complexities. Some memories clearly are meant to be cherished and kept alive. On the other hand, obsessions with the past can damage and destroy: in Penny’s words, “while forgetting the past might condemn people to repeat it, remembering it too vividly condemned them never to leave.” Choosing which memeories are which is the subject of grief, and Penny clearly portrays the painfulness of the process. Gamache struggles to choose how he wants to remember recently fallen comrades, while the declining (and hidden) Anglo community in Quebec City clings to its history like a lifeline. Beauvoir re-opens an old, painful case while he heals from his own physical and emotional trauma. But not all wounds can be healed, and closing some opens others.
Bury Your Dead is a wonderful, thought-provoking addition to the Three Pines series. Highly recommended.
Note: this review quotes an Advance Readers' Edition; quote may vary from the final published version.
All of the elements that I’ve come to expect from Louise Penny are back in Bury Your Dead. For me, there are two main reasons why this is my favorite mystery series and Bury Your Dead is among my favorite reads of the year. First, the characters are complex and genuine. There is no black and white, no truly good guys, no truly bad guys (and that is somewhat unusual in a series that features its fair share of murderers). The characters are for the most part sympathetic – I love spending time with them. But they all have faults and fears, and this is what makes them interesting.
Penny is also a master of plot. She introduces clues and uses misdirection skillfully. Her stories pull me along until she reaches a conclusion that is both surprising and inevitable. Amazing!
So far, this review reads a lot like all of my other reviews of the Amand Gamache series, but Penny has clearly reached a new level in Bury Your Dead. It seems as though we get to know a character or two better in each book. In Bury Your Dead, the focus is on Armand Gamache. Gamache is thoughtful, wise, and considerate, but he is clearly human. In Bury Your Dead, he visits his old mentor in Quebec City after an investigation has gone terribly wrong. As Penny gradually reveals what happened, Gamache’s sadness and regret is so intense that it is almost overwhelming. Near the end of the book, I read with tears streaming down my cheeks.
This may also be the most intricately plotted of the books. Through flashbacks and reflections, we learn about the investigation that Gamache has just completed. In the meantime, Gamache’s second-in-command, Jean Guy Beauvoir, visits the village of Three Pines to follow up on an old investigation. Unsurprisingly, a murder occurs in Quebec City during Gamache’s visit, and he is called in to assist. Penny weaves these stories together masterfully – sometimes moving from one to the next within the same chapter.
Clearly, Penny is a skilled mystery writer, but after reading Bury Your Dead, I am reluctant to constrain her to that genre. This is among the best novels that I’ve read recently. I recommend it highly.
This sixth entry in her wonderful Three Pines/Gamache series does not disappoint. "Bury Your Dead " continues events from the fifth book while adding layers upon layers along the way. Gamache, one of the most sensitive, wise, and warm homicide investigators conceivable, has made a mistake. A mistake that cost several officers their lives, and almost cost his own. He has gone to Quebec City to visit an old friend and recuperate from both his physical and his spiritual wounds...and Gamache being Gamache, stumbles right into the middle of a murder investigation that may well be connected with one of the oldest and most puzzling mysteries in Quebec history.
Meanwhile, back in Three Pines, poor Gabri is still unable to believe that his partner committed a murder. Every day he sends a letter to Gamache, and every day that letter asks the same question..."Why would Olivier move the body?" Gamache, never fully satisfied with the ending of that case, sends his second-in-command Beauvoir to Three Pines to unofficially re-investigate the murder of the Hermit and tells Beauvoir to work from the assumption that Olivier is innocent. Beauvoir, never fully at home in Three Pines the way Gamache is, finds this a difficult task. For one thing, he's convinced Olivier is guilty! But as he continues to dig into the lives and pasts of the Three Pines residents, he becomes more and more convinced that Gabri might just be right...they convicted the wrong man.
Nuanced, amazingly well-constructed, and very moving, "Bury Your Dead" might be one of the best entries in a wonderful series. I'll admit it...I cried at the very end. And once you've read it, you'll understand why!
You really know how to hurt a boy. You make, ex nihilo, people whose reality I completely buy into, whose very existence (in a well-ordered Universe) is simply necessary, and then you give them real, human flaws, and dreadfully painful pasts, and generally screw with my reality/fictionality compass.
And then you make them do yucky, tacky things. And even vile, evil ones. And somehow, throughout that process, you *don't* make me dislike them, or even judge them. You make me wince and cringe for their foolishness and then weep in anticipatory pain for the inevitable consequences of the actions YOU, Puppet Mistress of the Damned, make them perform!!
I just want to know one thing: How did you make so many people suffer these same pangs with only a few flicks of your cruel, cruel pen?
Little Richie D.
So if you're on the Three Pines Express, I don't need to sell this book to you. I do need to let you know a few things about it: 1) Not very much of it involves Three Pines, Clara or the bookstore. 2) The manner in which Lousy Louise stitches the three story lines together is disconcerting, and very effective most of the time; when a fourth story line is added, it becomes too much and feels like short shrift is given to some fan favorites. 3) Gamache and Jean-Guy are the primary movers in the stories, and each comes across as a multidimensional character with new and unexpected dimensions; but both are also required to do a little too much on-the-page soul searching for effectiveness, and the end result is each character now feels a little more fictional than before.
And we are ALL OVER THE PLACE all the time. I truly, truly wish we weren't given a picture that's quite so fractured. It's not quite as much fun as previous outings, but it's still head and shoulders above the vast majority of non-four-hankies-and-a-pistol books. It's a fine addition to the body of work Penny's accumulating, to be appreciated by the intelligent, thoughful commoner with nothing to prove.
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.
Penny does not fail this time, though I would have wished for more on the Three Pines characters, but just as we needed to rebuild our faith in Gamache so does he need to rebuild his faith in himself. After I finished I was ready to trust again, my love of Three Pines validated, and my yearning for more Louise Penny greater than before.
The history of the Quebec separatists and the division between the English and French in Quebec City was interesting; I have heard and read a little bit about the situation, but this book provided much more information. I also was not at all familiar with Samuel da Champlain, other than as the figure for whom a lake in Vermont is named. I enjoyed the historical background almost as much as the real mysteries--three of them, intertwined, and deftly handled.
Because Gamache is in Quebec recuperating both physically and mentally, he sends his assistant, Beauvoir, to Three Pines to look into the case presented in The Brutal Telling. Gamache gets involved in a case in Quebec because it occurs at a library where he has been researching Champlain. The story of his investigation is intertwined with that of Beauvoir's review of the Three Pines case as well as the situation which led to both men being wounded.
While the villagers of Three Pines appear only periperhally, the same is true of Gamache's regular team. I missed reading about his interaction with his team almost as much as I did the villagers. I hope, if there is another book in the series, we will learn more about how the rest of the team coped with the devastating incident, as well as how they will interact with Gamache and Beauvoir when they return to active duty.
Another thing I found interesting was that Gamache was permitted to take Henri, his family's German shepherd, into all manner of public places, including restaurants, without hindrance. Evidently laws in Canada, or at least Quebec, are different than those in the United States, where we are only allowed to take our service dog-in-training into public places--our family pet cannot go with us. It almost makes me want to live in Quebec!
Overall, this was a very satisfying entry in the Gamache series. It showed us more of the compassionate side of both Gamache and Beauvoir than previous books. But, as stated earlier and by others, a new reader should not start the series with this book.