Review: A Better Man by Louise Penny

Review by Marla D.

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Overall 8/10

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.

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Review: The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

Review by Darlene G

978-1-250-20444-8 On Sale September 3rd

Overall rating a 10/10

Summary: Ann Cleeves, the author of The Long Call is well-known for her mysteries set in England. This time the setting is North Devon, a place she herself lived. A new detective is introduced, VI Matthew Denn who resides in North Devon with his spouse in a beach cottage. Vi Denn was raised in a strict religious cult, The Brethern who are featured throughout the book. The murder of a mystery man occurs along with the disappearance of two developmentally delayed young women who attend a center run by VI Denn’s spouse. Additionally, the social worker at the center is the daughter of one of its contributors. The who-dun-it unrolls slowly as we are given insight into the town, the characters, and The Brethern.

Review: At the opening, Matthew Denn is observing his father’s funeral from afar. Matthew has been shunned by the cult-like Brethern for having a husband. DI Venis not allowed at the funeral and cannot even speak with his mother. He is called to investigate a murder with links to his husband’s place of employment, the Brethern and two developmentally disabled teenage girls. As Ms. Cleeves develops the characters they become very real as does the town and the workings of the Brethern. There are some unexpected twists and turns of course and the ending was a surprise to me. A good read. A study of society. Highly recommend it. Review:

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