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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Review: Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff

Review by Darlene G.

On Sale September 10, 2019

Overall Rating 6/10

Summary: In today’s society technology enters almost every area of our lives from our cellphones to our entertainment equipment and even our bedrooms. Technology has greatly improved medical science. However, the application of specific technologies medical issues but also social, moral, religious, and individual rights concerns which are presented to the reader of Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff to decide. Presented in the first person, the main characters of a family reveal how they are facing such dilemmas. It is up to the reader of Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff to decide whether decisions made by the main characters are correct.

Review: Mother Knows Best, an easy to read book, is jumbled a bit in the beginning until the reader understands somewhat from what standpoint it is written. The reader then starts to understand the character’s position in the family and other central characters and their motivations. A family of three is center stage but there is a mystery that the parents keep from the 12-year-old daughter and their community. In the beginning, we know that she had had an older brother that somehow died and they are making a pilgrimage to his favorite place. We can tell the family dynamics are skewed. Neither Mom nor Dad will answer questions about the boy. This is the only time Mom will leave the house. She appears to have a mental health issue. We wonder why Mom is concerned about a dead son to the exclusion of providing emotional care to her daughter. The daughter is remarkably well. In fact, she is never sick. She is attractive, intelligent and precocious like any other child would be in this situation. We are lead through the world of in vitro fertilization, the creation of embryos from various sources. Most of this is well known to us. The twist is who, what, why and what are the consequences. Not my favorite sci-fi thriller but it’s a good summer read.

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