Review by Marla D.
Summary: In the latest installment of the Chief Inspector Gamache series, Armand Gamache returns with a tarnished reputation and a demotion from his position as the head of the Sûreté. While his character is being publicly assassinated on social media, he must navigate the awkward dynamics of sharing the head of homicide position with Jean-Guy Beauvoir, his former second-in-command. Amid the crisis of historic spring flooding, which is threatening Montréal and the surrounding areas, Gamache and his colleagues find themselves investigating the disappearance of a young woman. As the residents of Three Pines come together to protect their town from the raging waters of the Riviѐre Bella Bella, the missing person hunt becomes a homicide investigation. Gamache finds himself working to solve a case that has him asking himself some tough questions, even as the threat of natural disaster and a social media firestorm loom over him.
Review: Although Still Life, the first in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, and the latest installment, A Better Man, are my only experience with Louise Penny’s books, the elements that drew me into Penny’s first book are the same ones that kept me reading this one. The mystery that is central to the plot was engaging, but it’s Armand Gamache, his Sûreté colleagues, and the residents of Three Pines that I find the most compelling. The world that Penny has built around Three Pines and it’s quirky residents, while not as prominent in this book, is still a fascinating part of the story. Anchored by Gamache, and the thoughtful way he approaches his interactions with everyone from colleagues to murder suspects, I especially appreciated the exploration of the relationship between Gamache and fellow Sûreté officer Jean-Guy Beauvoir in A Better Man. While I thought Penny was a little heavy-handed with the continued references to why the case in this story was so personal to both Gamache and Beauvoir, it wasn’t egregious enough to keep me from becoming immersed in the story. A Better Man left me wanting more Chief Inspector Gamache- anticipating both the next installment and the opportunity to catch up on the rest of Penny’s backlist.