Friday, April 27, 2012


Novelist, Louise Penny’s award winning mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has received exceptional reviews and accolades.  One author’s praise quotes says:“Louise Penny’s mysteries have evolved into world- class novels”. By the number of awards and starred reviews she received, I would tend to agree.
Her debut novel, Still Life won the New Blood Dagger and Arthur Ellis, Barry, and Anthony awards for the best first novel.  Louise became the first writer ever to win the Agatha Award for best novel three years in a row for: A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month and a Brutal Telling. The back cover of Bury Your Dead has all of the big four reviewers: Kirkus, Book List, Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal giving exceptional advance praise. 
 Publisher's Weekly's starred review for her latest book in the series, A Rule Against Murder, says this :
"Expertly plotted, Arthur Ellis Award winner, Penny, paints a vivid picture of the French-Canadian village, its inhabitants and a determined detective who will strike many Agatha Christie fans as a twenty first century version of Hercule Poirot."
The Charlotte Observer wrote: These wonderful books full of poetry and weather, a brooding manor house, and people who read and think and laugh and eat a lot of excellent food."

Given all of the above, I feel a little skittish attempting a review of  Bury Your Dead, the latest of four of her novels that I have read, but I enjoy Louise Penny's books for a variety of reasons and feel compelled to do so. Here goes!

Bury Your Dead
Penny draws the reader right in to the setting of her books, myself included. Because of my French-Canadian grandparents, familiar sights and seasons of Quebec, the special food and customs, even the dark humor brought this mystery remarkably close to home for me.  I enjoyed all the french phrases or words that  peppered  the pages.
Her lyrical style and exceptional descriptions make you want to live wherever she takes you.
Sometimes the threads switching back and forth between two  murder investigations was  irritating ,and if a reader hadn't read the previous installment, it could be confusing. Most reviewers like the plot twists,  but  in this novel I did not.
Protagonist,Inspector Gamache has been called North 'America's most humane detective' by one of the prominent reviewers and I agree. I do like Penny's characterzation of the chief  inspector, He is never the hard- boiled policeman found in some mysteries. One question comes to mind as I read all of her books: How can the detectives make time for gourmet meals and libations during the investigations? I love the food descriptions, but found the inspector's partaking of them unususal.
The author created suspense and excitement, keeping me guessing until the end. Bury Your Dead was engrossing, as were all of her books in this series. I reccomend them to all mystery lovers.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Yes, Penny is quite a good mystery writer. I do follow her series.
Great idea to bring attention to worthy writers.

Mary F. Schoenecker said...

I'm sure many folks must be following her series. I was hoping Penny would respond to my blog, but I think I'm whistling in the wind.Thanks for posting a comment.

bdtharp said...

I haven't had the pleasure of reading Ms. Penny's books - but I am now interested in doing so. I will say this, the French always take time for good wine and good food. It is their culture. We Americans prefer "fast food" and a "quick drink" so that may be why you think it's unusual. I've not been to Canada, but the French in France know when to stop and enjoy. It' helps them be so productive later.

Mary F Schoenecker said...

Thanks B.D.for your comments. I think you would have to read her series to know what I mean about Chief detective Gamache's gourmet dining habits.There is also a big difference in Canadian French custom & language than the French across the ocean, imho.

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