STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

On My Bookshelf

Bury Your Dead is the first book by Louise Penny I have read, but it won't be my last. Set in cold snowy Québec City, it is the sixth in the Three Pines mystery series. The central character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, is unofficially "on leave" to recover from a recent case which did not end well. While visiting his mentor and former Chief in Québec City during Winter Carnival, he becomes involved in yet another mysterious murder case... in fact you might say there are three deaths "under investigation." Two are recent and one is unexplained from hundreds of years ago.
If you have never been to Québec City, you will feel as if you have once you've finished this book. Penny paints such rich descriptions of this beautiful old city, the narrow cobblestoned streets of the old walled section, lined by stone buildings, charming restaurants and cafés, brimming with Canadian culture. The city is as much a character in this story as the humans. Also ever present is the tension between English and French, with continuing strong separatist feelings among some of the population. Woven through the plot is a good deal of very interesting history - I was unaware (or had forgotten?) that the remains of  Samuel de Champlain, founder of Québec, have never been discovered, his resting place still a mystery. This figures prominently in the story. Penny has also developed her characters so very well, I feel as if I already know Gamache. He is a man of integrity and great wisdom, the type of man I would greatly respect if I knew him personally.
Photo Source: Wikipedia
I thoroughly enjoyed the inclusion of so much history in the novel; one simply cannot visit this city without being aware of the rich historical and cultural background as you stand in front of the Château Frontenac overlooking the mighty St. Lawrence River, or on the Plains of Abraham where the English and French battled to shape the destiny of this city and the entire province of Québec. History and politics have certainly left their mark on both city and its residents. There is even a current-day
walking tour available, following the steps of Gamache in Bury Your Dead. Wouldn't that be fun?
I don't want to give away any more of the plot, you'll have to trust me when I say this is a cleverly written book/series worth reading.The one thing that has stuck with me from Bury Your Dead are the four short sentences which have remained with Gamache throughout his career- he learned them from his Chief when he was a young agent, and passes them on to each of the agents now under his command: "I'm sorry. I was wrong. I need help. I don't know." All phrases that we often find difficult to say, but no doubt our lives would be made a lot easier if we could say them more often... Food for thought...
 Although I was assured I could read this as a "stand alone" rather than starting and reading the series in order, (and I did certainly enjoy it) I do want to go back now and read the previous five, in order. Do any of my local reader friends have the first one, Still Life that you'd be willing to loan me?
One thing I know for sure, I'm craving a café au lait, some fresh baked croissants and a return trip to Québec City.....

Peace,
Linda

My favourite game is called "How many chapters can I read in one night?"

9 comments:

Mary Ellen said...

I must say Linda you have my attention .I have been a reader every sense i learned my ABC .This is the first i have heard of Louise Penny and the Three Pines mysteries ,but i am going to check with my Library too see if they have them.Maybe you could do the same. Here in Port-Aux-Basques they will check across the province,if the do not have what you are looking for.Wish i could help you,but good luck on your search.

Dolores said...

You're in for a great ride. The Beautiful Mystery was my first Penny novel and I loved it. Seriously, a murder, cloistered monks on an island? Who did it?

Beverly Wood said...

I agree, Louise Penny tells a fabulous story. Her book,How the light gets in, was the first one I read. A thriller from beginning to end. I have read two more of hers and plan to read all of her books.

kath001 said...

I read Still Life several years ago, and own it as a Kindle book. I just checked to see if lending is enabled for it, but it's not. Pooh. As I recall, it was a difficult Kindle read for me, as it had a lot of characters and a lot of them had French names. Not being able to flip back and forth through actual pages easily to refresh details in my mind, makes that kind of thing hard for me. Hope you find it.

Jennifer said...

Linda, since your last post I have borrowed this book from my library and read it - finished it fairly quickly as I couldn't put it down! Having read many other Inspector Gamache books, I found this one interesting as it filled in some gaps in the narratives. Like you I would like to acquire all the books in the series and read them in sequence......I think I may have missed the odd one here and there. The information on Quebec history was fascinating to a non-Canadian, I kept jumping up to the computer to check about characters and events mentioned!

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Interesting review. I'll make a point of looking for this author. From the comments, it looks like you are in good reading company.

Sharon Chapman said...

This book sounds so good. It is now on my list!

Mary Howland said...

Read these books in order. If you pay attention little clues are dropped which will then make sense when you read the next book. I've read them all and can't wait for the next one due out later this year.

Anne Mattie said...

Hi Linda. i see you are reading Louise Penny. I also started with Bury Your Dead and really didn't like it and now, having read all of her books, I think I should tell you to restart your love affair with Inspector Gamache and restart with Still Life. These books really benefit from being read in order, and in my mind, Still Life is her best. I loved them all, except for the last published (she has a new one slated to appear in August)and I know you will love reading thie great Canadian author.

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