I have a confession and it’s one I’m not proud of. I don’t normally read Canadian novels. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the writing it’s more that I don’t make the conscious effort to seek out these books. I received Bury your Dead by Louise Penny for my birthday and although I had asked for it I had no idea what it was about or that it took place in Quebec.
Armand Gamache is the the head of a police force in Quebec that recently suffered a great loss. While recovering, Armand inadvertently stumbles into the murder case of Augustus Renaud. Augustus spent his life trying to find Samuel Champlain the founder of Quebec. When he is found dead in the basement of an English library a decades old spat between the French and the English is once again in the limelight.
What I loved about this book is that it was really three mysteries in one. On the one hand you have Armand who is trying to solve the murder of Augustus and then you have Jean-Guy, Gamache’s partner from the force who is reopening a murder case that the partners thought they had figured out. A
small town was thrown into disarray when a local bistro owner was accused of killing the town hermit. Gamache and Beauvoir sent the bistro owner, Olivia, to prison for the murder but did he really do it?
You also have the mystery of Samuel Champlain and where his body is buried. This fictional story explores the very real mystery of what happened to his body. The original burial site burned down and despite numerous attempts over the years no one has been able to locate the body of the famous cartographer. In the novel, Renaud thought he was close and so when he is found murdered Gamache picks up where Augustus left off and makes a startling discovery.
Lastly, you have Paul Morin whose demise Gamache is tormented by throughout the novel. The author tells this story through flashbacks, tantalizing you with details but holding tight to the conclusion until the very end.
Armand Gamache is the main reason I would continue reading the rest of the novels in this series. He isn’t terribly witty or sarcastic and he doesn’t pretend to be clever. He is however honest in his flaws and that’s what got to me. His honesty, his vulnerability, his ability to understand that although he is the head of a prestigious police force, he is still a man and all men make mistakes.
Below are moments in this book that took me by surprise with the beauty of the writing and the truth within the words: