Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Cruelest Month-Louise Penny

The Cruelest Month
Louise Penny
St. Martin’s, Mar 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 0312352573

In Three Pines, Quebec, villagers gather at the allegedly haunted vacated (except perhaps for ghosts) Hadley House to attend a séance. Popular psychic Madeleine Favreau hosts the gala. However, to the shock of everyone in attendance, Madeleine seems to have fainted out of fear or possession. The participants quickly realize she has died.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache leads the investigation into what he assumes is a murder perpetrated by a mortal not a poltergeist as some claim. He is a bit shocked when he finds not only no motives, but no one will say the slightest negative commentary about the deceased. However Gamache’s biggest problem is not with this case, but with his last inquiry (see A FATAL GRACE) in which he accused his popular boss of monstrous crimes; The Surete du Quebec do not appreciate a whistleblower regardless of just the facts.

The third Gamache Quebec police procedural (see STILL LIFE) is an excellent cozy. The lead protagonist is an intelligent and dedicated (the Surete insist obstinate) police investigator who learns the hard way that evidence and the facts do not matter to the brass who control the media and the oversight boards, as reputation is everything; non-non to whistle-blowing. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this French Canadian whodunit as the methodical Gamache works the case with hopes of redemption from his last case.

Harriet Klausner