I finished listening to Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny a few days ago, but I’ve been finding it difficult to review. It’s the sixth in a series I love and really is more of a follow-up to the last, The Brutal Telling, so much so that I doubt this would work as a stand-alone.

I try not to use the publisher’s synopsis, but in this case I’m going to. There’s a lot going on in the book, three plots interwoven together.

It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society— where an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it? Although he is supposed to be on leave, Gamache cannot walk away from a crime that threatens to ignite long-smoldering tensions between the English and the French. Meanwhile, he is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. “It doesn’t make sense,” Olivier’s partner writes every day. “He didn’t do it, you know.” As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive the terrible event of his own past before he can bury his dead.

Quebec City in winter.

Jean Guy Beauvoir, at Gamache’s request, goes to Three Pines to take a second look at Olivier’s case. I really like Jean Guy in this one. He grows a lot and learns to value the village and its residents, not just look down his nose at them. I also adored his relationship with Ruth, the bitter old brilliant poet. They’re nothing alike, can’t even admit that they like each other, but Ruth provides the support that Jean Guy desperately needs.

Gamache is spending his leave in Quebec City with his elderly mentor. After spending time researching in the Literary and Historical Society library, he is a natural choice for them to turn to in the crisis. I don’t read much history, it’s just not a genre I gravitate to, but Penny incorporates a lot of historical fact and detail in this portion of the plot. I learned a lot about Quebec history, about Samuel de Champlain who founded Quebec City in 1608, and about the later Battle of the Plains of Abraham, a decisive battle between the British and the French. Penny makes me realize why people find history so fascinating. It’s full of larger than life characters who interactions changed world events, and they were real people, with real secrets and passions.

The Plains of Abraham in winter.

I could go on about the plots in Bury your Dead, and they are well-though out for the most part. I do think that the “who killed the guy in the library” took second stage to the rest of the story, even to the search for Champlain’s body. In all honesty, there was one point where i was trying to remember if Gamache had told me who dunnit or not. It turned the revelation hadn’t come yet, but I was unsure for a little while. Of course, that’s also the part of the story I cared the least about.

I think this entry in the series gave us a better look into the thoughts and feelings of both Gamache and Beauvoir. I really do love Penny’s characters, they are each, even the minor ones, full-drawn people. They have faults but they also have strengths. I’m already listening to the 7th, A Trick of the Light.

Once again, I adore this series. Read it! Or listen to it like I do.

4½ out of 5 stars

Category: Mystery & Detective- Police Procedural

Photo credits: Quebec City – Cultured Chaos; Plains of Abraham – Trek Earth

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Inspector Armand Gamache #6
First published 2010
2010 Agatha Award for Best Novel
12 hours 43 minutes read by Ralph Cosham

Book source: Library

Chief Inspector Gamache Series

  1. Still Life
  2. A Fatal Grace
  3. The Cruelest Month
  4. A Rule Against Murder
  5. The Brutal Telling
  6. Bury Your Dead
  7. A Trick of the Light