The Long Way Home (Penny)

I know my Louise Penny guides will be dismayed that I went out of order again, but this is the one I had and I was in the mood to begin one of her mysteries. I am still hooked¬†on the series and its characters. I found Penny’s ability to write about art to be particularly evocative here. Maybe the science teacher on the boat was a little too convenient, and what seems to be the requisite violence at the end was a bit too choreographed. And I wish Penny wouldn’t shift her style quite so abruptly when the pieces start together for Gamache et al. For a good portion of the book, we are told everything, save for the story of Gamache’s book. Still, it is named. Then we start getting sentences like, “And then he figured it out.” It’s a false suspense, I think, to just (suddenly withhold information). I realize I’ve listed some negatives here, but they are far outweighed by the psychological mysteries, both with the characters I’ve seen develop over time (if out of order) and the details of this particular mystery. And it is not often that I stop a piece of fiction to search out some details to see if they are real places (they were) or Penny just made them up. I enjoyed that.

And yes, I’ll try to get them in the right order from now on!

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Bury Your Dead (Penny)

I read the first two of Penny’s mysteries in order, but then skipped ahead because I found a used copy of this one. I regret it a little because I think there’s one prior to this that informs a subplot here. Does anyone know? But this one was a step up from the previous two which I thought were quite good. Penny, perhaps because she’s grown confident because of the success of her earlier books, delves into Canadian history and politics here. They are essential to the plot (in ways that made me wish I understood them better) and make the story take on an impressive level of depth in the way Mankell did in his Wallender series.

Really good stuff. I have one more used one to read, but perhaps I should go back to reading them in order.

A Fatal Grace (Penny)

Although she announces the victim in the first sentence of the book, for about 50 pages or so, I actually hoped that this wasn’t a mystery. Penny has, once again, created such a dynamic range of people, so fully human, that I just wanted her to tell the story of these people and their village of Three Pines. These characters are flawed and funny and so relentlessly decent that I was genuinely moved by their interactions.But then the promised murder happens, and there’s another dead body.

But then the promised murder happens, and there’s another dead body. That the two were related did not surprise me. That Penny still resorts to the mystery author’s trick of suddenly and unrealistically concealing a detail still nagged at me. But these minor annoyances were easily displaced by the magic of Three Pines and its inhabitants. Once again, we have a creative murder and the dogged persistence of the thoughtful Inspector Gamache, who now has his own problems to address, not at home, but at work. Perhaps buoyed by the success of her first novel, Penny is clearly planning ahead here. I, for one, look forward to following along.¬†The Cruelest Month is next.