Saturday, March 23, 2019

A Rule Against Murder: by Louise Penny

A Rule Against Murder is another novel for the Canadian Book Challenge. Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are celebrating their 35th anniversary at the Manoir Bellechaise, a former hunting lodge turned luxury resort on the shore of Lac Massawippi in Quebec. For those who are not familiar with Louise Penny's series, Armand Gamache is the head of Homicide at the Sûreté du Québec, and the protagonist of a series. This is the fourth book in the series, and was originally published in Canada as The Murder Stone.

Armand and Reine-Marie are staying at the resort at the same time that the Morrow family are having their family reunion. No one in the Morrow family seems to like anyone else in the family, although for the most part they try to keep up appearances. And each family member has secrets from the rest of the family. There is a special reason for this year's reunion; a statue of the deceased father of the Morrow children, Charles Morrow, will be unveiled in the gardens of the resort.

During a violent thunderstorm, a member of the family dies in a very unusual manner. Most of the Morrow family assume that Armand is a shopkeeper or such, well beneath them, so they are very surprised when he takes over the investigation.

There are many unusual and eccentric characters in this book. Some are very likable; others, mainly in the Morrow family, are very unsympathetic. And the members of the Morrow family are not the only ones with secrets. The juxtaposition of all these characters makes for an entertaining and suspenseful read.

For me, the change to a new setting was welcome, although Three Pines, the small Quebec village featured in previous books in the series, is nearby. I also liked that there is more information about Armand's past, which links nicely to the Morrow family. It took me a while to warm up to the series, but this book was very, very good.

See other reviews here:
Pining for the West
Books to the Ceiling
Mysteries in Paradise
Lesa's Book Critiques

I have reviewed two of the earlier books in the series:


Publisher:   St. Martin's, 2009 (orig. pub. 2008)
Length:      365 pages
Format:      Paperback
Series:       Inspecter Gamache, #4
Setting:      Quebec,  Canada
Genre:        Police Procedural
Source:      I purchased my copy.


Bill Selnes said...

TracyK: It is not often sleuths travelling to a new location appeals to me. This book is an exception. I thought it was an excellent book. At that point of the series Penny was writing books with unusual methods of committing murder. That theme continued in this book with the victim being killed when a large statue fell upon her.

Rick Robinson said...

A favorite series and author of mine.

Anonymous said...

I'm very glad you liked this as much as you did, Tracy. I agree that Three Pines is a very effective setting for the series, and I'm glad so many of the novels are set there. At the same time, I thought this one was done very well.

Jacquie said...

This is one of my top favorites in the series!

Cath said...

I liked that this one moved location too. The series is one of my all time favourites... I'm 4 or 5 books ahead of you and my goodness you have some treats to come. The series just takes off!

TracyK said...

Bill, that was a very unusual method for murder. I enjoyed the book very much, and I liked the use of a resort as setting.

TracyK said...

It has taken me a while to appreciate this series, Rick. I do have the next one on hand to read.

TracyK said...

Three Pines is a great setting for this series, Margot, but it is again a case of too many murders in one small town. Nevertheless, a good place to visit.

TracyK said...

So far I agree with you, Jacqueline. But I have a few more to read.

TracyK said...

That is good to hear, Cath. One of the things I like about this series is the setting in Quebec, where French is the majority official language.

col2910 said...

I have one book from this author on the shelf. I'll have to see if I can incorporate it into my current Canadian reading challenge. There's a few other authors from that neck of the woods that I want to read before her though.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, I will be reading Louise Penny, sooner than later. I have read much about her sleuth Armand Gamache. This one sounds like a Poirot mystery, Gamache on hand to investigate the unusual death of a member of a family.

TracyK said...

If you do try one of these, Col, I hope you enjoy it. But I agree, there are other Canadian authors more suited to your tastes.

TracyK said...

I did not notice that, Prashant, but you are right. This is like some Poirot mysteries of that type, and also there were several Poirot mysteries set at resorts.

J F Norris said...

I read this book over ten years ago and was so proud of myself when I spotted and made note of the one clue that proved how the statue was toppled. I can't recall if I figured out who did it, but I was more than happy to have figured out how it was done. For awhile I thought Penny was going to be the first woman mystery writer to be a modern creator of impossible crimes, but she soon abandoned those types of plots.

Penny opted for telling an extended family saga in this series. I soon lost interest in the books when she got so involved with the various lives of the Three Pines citizens. I know that's the exact opposite effect that most people had with her books. What can I say - I'm a maverick. And when she created that one book that had NO RESOLUTION until the next book I was done with her. This is a trend now with mystery series and I dislike it intensely. Like old cliffhanger movie serials, these types of books that have no real ending force you to wait and buy the "next chapter" a year (sometimes longer) later. Manipulative marketing tactic that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Katrina said...

I really like this series although I do agree in part with JF above. But for me the odd characters and Armand himself make up for any annoyances - and Three Pines of course.

TracyK said...

I agree, John, I do not like mysteries that have cliffhanger endings. Usually I read books years after they are published so the next book would be available, but even so, I dislike that idea.

I don't quite see how Penny can keep writing about Three Pines realistically, but I will still be trying more in the series.

TracyK said...

This one was my favorite so far, Katrina, so I will see how the next books go. I find dysfunctional family interactions interesting, so that may have been the attraction of this one.