A rich setting and well-developed characters make A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny a good mystery. The beautiful language and thoughtfulness of the narrative make it stand out.
“What happened here last night isn’t allowed,” said Madame Dubois.
It was such an extraordinary thing to say it stopped the ravenous Inspector Beauvoir from taking another bite of his roast beef on baguette.
“You have a rule against murder?” he asked.
“I do. When my husband and I bought the Bellechasse we made a pact….Everything that stepped foot on this land would be safe.”
This fourth in the series steps away from the town of Three Pines. Happily, in my opinion, because really the village needs a break from murders occasionally. Inspector Gamache and his wife are celebrating their anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse, a luxurious inn isolated on the shore of Lac Massawippi. The other rooms are occupied by the Finney family, as unpleasant as they are wealthy. The Gamaches are surprised when Peter and Clara arrive for the Finney reunion too. Of course, this is a mystery, so it’s not long before one of the Finneys is dead, crushed by a statue of her father, and all the family’s secrets, jealousies and insecurities come boiling to the surface.
Penny’s mysteries are about more than clues and suspects. They are about feelings, passions. Gamache realizes that at heart, most murders are real people who have let their emotions overcome them, who have reached a dark place and murder is the only way out. I was actually surprised by who the killer was in this one. The clues were there, but I guess I was looking in one direction, ignoring the other possibilities.
This installation can definitely be read as a stand-alone. We learn a lot about Gamache’s childhood and his parents. He’s a wonderful character, multi-dimensional, caring, a believer in hunches. He also leads his team of younger officers who were seen as misfits at one time or another well, providing support and independence. Each of the characters, from the police to the hotel staff to the Finney’s are well-drawn. You almost feel like you’re a guest yourself, seeing all the interactions, feeling the tension in the family, wishing you could relax down at the dock.
I’ve been listening to this series, narrated by Ralph Cosham . I have to say I enjoy hearing the pronunciation of the French words and phrases. I get so caught up in the story, though, that really I quit noticing the narrator.
This is one of my favorite series at the moment. I’m glad I still have a few to read before I’m caught up.
4 out of 5 stars
Category: Mystery and Detective
Inspector Gamache #4
Also titled The Murder Stone
First published 2008
10 hours, 53 minutes
Book source: Library