Macmillian Audio, ISBN 978-1427213204
August 30, 2011
It should be a very happy time for Three Pines resident Clara Morrow. She has a solo show of her work at the Musee d'Art Contemporian in Montreal, a dream for any artist.
But it seems that her husband is more than a little jealous of her success and in fact, may have been sabotaging her for years. Then, a body is found in her garden the morning after her opening night party, a body that turns out to a former friend of Clara and a less than loved art critic.
In this, the seventh Inspector Gamache mystery, solving the murder is at the center of the story, but the true heart of the book may be the residents of Three Pines and Gamache and his colleagues and an interesting group they all are. Will Clara and Peter's marriage survive? Will bistro owner Oliver forgive Gamache for a terrible wrong done to him previously in The Brutal Telling? Will Gamache and his second in command Beauvior be able to deal with the physical and emotional scars that linger from a police raid that almost cost them both their lives? The strength of this series is that while be care about the murder, it is the backstory, the quirky, interesting residents of Three Pines and Penny's beautiful, descriptive writing that keeps us coming back.
So, must we read the previous six books before we start this one?
Well, perhaps not, but I would suggest you read the previous two books, The Brutal Telling (which I had read) and Bury Your Dead (which I did not) before you read this one. I think the fact that I had not read the book right before this one left me not fully appreciating at first what happen in that deadly raid, but I was shortly up to speed.
Another problem I had was how the organization of Alcoholics Anonymous, which plays a key role in the story, is dealt with. I think most people, whether through books or movies or personal experience know a bit about how AA and other 12 step programs work. Like the whole 12 step part. But we are expected to believe that Gamache had no basic knowledge of the group, the steps, the role of sponsors, the anonymity..which really tested the story's credibility. For me that was the one weakness of this book, a book that otherwise was quite good and a must read for fans of the series.
I am happy, on the other hand, to say this joins my short list of successful audiobooks. Nothing like an 8 hours drive to Maine to give some great flow to an audiobook! I see more of them in my roadtrip future.
My thanks to the publisher and Amazon Vine for a copy of this book.