The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

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4
Rating – 4/5 stars

Date Finished – August 1, 2017

64/120 in 2017

Publication Date – 2007

#3 in the Chief Inspector Gamache Series

I’m so excited to review this book – the 3rd installment of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache Novels! Everything that I’ve wanted from this series is happening in this book – it’s finding its footing, embracing the (seemingly incompatible) mix of who-dun-it Agatha Christie goofiness and real, compelling emotion and complex characters.

Louise Penny is some kind of magician. I don’t actually care who the killer is in her novels, and it’s taken me a while to figure that out. The murder provides action, and sets a scene, and that’s actually all that matters. Because I’m in it for the long haul (12 books at this point), the mystery of each novel is mostly inconsequential. I care deeply about Gamache and the band of detectives and Three Pines residents that Penny has drawn for me over the last three novels. I can’t wait to learn more about their backstories, get to know auxiliary characters (Gamache’s wife, PLEASE), and to see them in new and different situations.

I also really, really care about the Arnot case and its implications for Gamache, and this novel digs into that more than the first two, which just hinted at it.

I think I’ve been willing to forgive some of the first two books’ weaknesses because there were so many other book lined up behind them, and I felt confident that everything I didn’t like would be challenged or changed by the end of twelve novels. That’s proving to be true. For the rest of the series to really, really impress me, I’d love to see Penny break her own mold in some way in every subsequent book.

Even though Penny’s central mysteries can be predictable, she still does a masterful job of giving you all the information you need to identify the killer early on, but keeping you guessing. She never relies on a cheap turn to surprise you, and I love that.

 

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