Having seen himself err Gamache asks inspector Beauvoir to re-examine their past certainty of who killed the Hermit at Three Pines. Could the wrong man have been convicted?
In Quebec City Gamache finds some solace in the library of the Literary and History Society of Quebec (the Lit and His). He spends quiet hours in the beautiful reading room studying an aspect of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
The serenity of the Lit and His is shattered by the death of Augustin Renaud, a fanatic who had been consumed with searching for Champlain’s grave and body so the founder of Quebec could be further adored and glorified. The investigation requires an old fashioned search through aged books and hundreds of years of Quebec history.
The story explores among the rarest of mystery themes – a hero who is fallible. Gamache’s struggles with the night are the doubts that haunt us all. How do we let go of guilt over past actions? How do we forgive ourselves? Lapsed from his Church there is no faith for Gamache to draw upon in his trials.
At the same time there are exquisite moments of wonderful memory. Gamache recalls the beautiful words of the wedding blessing bestowed upon himself and Reine-Marie - “Now there is no more loneliness”.
Penny’s rich characterization and wonderfully drawn descriptions of place evoke the mysteries of P.D. James.
Reading in February, the month in which it is set, made it perfect winter book. Eriksson’s Swedish winter is dark and grim. Penny’s Quebec winter is bright and fresh. As I look outside in Saskatchewan today the sun is gleaming off the white snow thick upon the ground.
It is a masterpiece mystery certain to be one of Bill’s Best of 2011. (If you have not read The Brutal Telling I recommend it be read first. The books are really a two part saga.) (Feb. 6/11)
- Bill Selnes
- Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
- I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.