It wasn't until I finished this book that I realized that I had serendipitously read a novel set at Easter when that event was very close at hand. Hidden within the plot of this mystery set in a small village, the author explores the themes of the Easter season.
From the author's website:
Easter in Three Pines is a time of church services, egg hunts and seances to raise the dead.
A group of friends trudges up to the Old Hadley House, the horror on the hill, to finally rid it of the evil spirits that have so obviously plagued it, and the village, for decades. But instead of freeing a spirit, they create a new one. One of their numbers dies of fright. Or was it murder? Enter Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team from the Surete du Quebec. As they peel back the layers of flilth and artiface that have covered the haunted old home, they discover the evil isn't confined there. Some evil is guiding the actions of one of the seemingly kindly villagers.
But Gamache has a horror all his own to confront. A very personal demon is about to strike.
Easter in Three Pines. A time of rebirth, when nature comes alive. But something very unpleasant has also come alive. And it become clear - for there to be a rebirth, there first must be a death.This is a very popular series and this book received the Agatha Award for best novel of 2008. It was also nominated for several other awards. I am almost afraid to criticize this book. However, if readers are interested in this type of series, I don't think my comments will deter them.
I did not enjoy reading the first half of the book. That portion centered on the happenings in Three Pines and the inhabitants of that area, and the beginnings of the investigation by Gamache and his team. A lot of of it seemed repetitive, going over and over the same points. There are actually two plot lines, one involving the murder and its resolution, and the other related to a plot against Gamache which has been building up gradually in previous books. Both of the plots (and the characters involved) seemed a little over the top to me.
For such an idyllic town, many of the characters are very unlikeable. Of course, some of their faults are those we all have from time to time, like envy which leads to very bad behavior. But these are characters we are supposed to like. Some of the characters are just plain wacky. I don't find them all as charming as many readers do. Inspector Gamache is a very good protagonist, almost too good. I don't like my heroes or heroines too good or too bad, just in between. However, it is very hard not to like Gamache and his family, and he has strong bonds with most of his team.
At about the halfway point, the book picked up for me and got more interesting. So in the end, I was not disappointed in the read. I am not the only reviewer who did not love this book but I am in a minority. And among the reviews I have read that have the same quibbles that I express, most say they will continue reading the series and have heard good things about the later books. So I also will continue reading more about Inspector Gamache.
I did like the 2nd book in the series, A Fatal Grace, a lot more than this one. In my review of that book I compared it to the writing of Jane Haddam and Agatha Christie. Other reviewers have drawn the comparison to Christie. Like the Jane Haddam Gregor Demarkian series, this series seems to be darker than the usual "cozy." Like many books by Christie, the setting is small village with underlying secrets.
Mysteries in Paradise
Joe Barone's Blog
Publisher: Minotaur Books, 2008 (orig. pub. 2007)
Length: 311 pages
Series: Inspecter Gamache, #3
Setting: Quebec, Canada
Genre: Police Procedural
Source: I purchased my copy.