Sunday, 26 June 2011
The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny
First, though, and somewhat rashly, readers of the earlier books might think, the inhabitants of Three Pines set off for the old Hadley house to exorcise its ghosts. They’ve got a visiting medium and they think holding a séance will be a good idea. It’s not, of course, because one of their number winds up dead, apparently frightened to death. Inspector Gamache doesn’t mind too much when he’s sent for, because he’s got fond of the village, and he looks forward to a welcome at the B&B run by Gabri and Olivier, where the food is good and the fires are always burning (well, Easter in Quebec is on the chilly side). With him he brings his assiduous sidekick Jean Guy Beauvoir (a man you can be assured will be well-turned out and wearing impractical shoes) and the rest of his team – which includes, again, the thoroughly unlikeable Yvette Nichol. Of course, we’re quite pleased to see her back, really, because we know there’s unfinished business there.
The Cruellest Month is as atmospheric as its predecessors, and of course, we’re as attached to the village as Gamache is by now. We might think it’s a rather dangerous place to live, and wonder how the residents continue to feel positively about their lives being continually disrupted by violent death, but we want to be there with them. (Well, they’ve got a good bookshop, for a start, and a resident award-winning poet!) The regular characters continue to grow, too, so that we feel we’re getting to know them better – Clara and Peter, who don’t always get everything right, are still working on their marriage. The alarming Ruth is still insulting everyone and getting away with it. And Penny’s writing, just a touch uncertain in the first book is, by the third, deft and assured. I like this series a lot.