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Book Review: A Rule Against Murder

Author: Louise Penny

Publisher: Minotaur Books, January, 2009

Fornmat: Audiobook, read by Ralph Cosham

Genre: Mystery

My Rating: A

This is book number four in Louise Penny’s wonderful Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. I’ve thoroughy enjoyed reading each one so far. This was, however, my husband’s first experience with these well-rounded novels. Here’a the synopsis of the story from the publisher:

It is the height of summer, and Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are celebrating their wedding anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse, an isolated, luxurious inn not far from the village of Three Pines. But they’re not alone. The Finney family—rich, cultured, and respectable—has also arrived for a celebration of their own.

The beautiful Manoir Bellechasse might be surrounded by nature, but there is something unnatural looming. As the heat rises and the humidity closes in, some surprising guests turn up at the family reunion, and a terrible summer storm leaves behind a dead body. It is up to Chief Inspector Gamache to unearth secrets long buried and hatreds hidden behind polite smiles. The chase takes him to Three Pines, into the dark corners of his own life, and finally to a harrowing climax.

As seems to be the style of Louise Penny, she took her time setting up the scene at the exclusive resort in the forest. The only other guests are the Finney family, and none of them seem very nice. They are dreading the arrival of another family member as if he were some real ogre.

When it turned out to be Peter (and Clara) Morrow, I was shocked. I’ve loved them in the previous three books. In the past, Peter has shown some jealousy of his wife’s art success, but that didn’t make him a ogre, in my opinion. In Rule Against Murder, the author gives us an in-depth look at Peter which made him appear even more human.

Halfway through the story the murder occurs and it’s a lulu: a heavy statue comes down from it’s pedestal to stab one of the Finney family members. Whoa!! That one really stretches the imagination for both the reader and Inspector Gamache. Actually, if you are paying attention, the clues are there.

As we were listening to this audiobook, my husband was skeptical during the beginning of the novel. (In his defense I should tell you that we’d just listen to a couple of action/thrillers.) So, a slow-developing novel like Louise Penny’s threw him off at first. But, by then end of the story he was applauding the thoroughness of the author’s character development, plot, and the writing itself. There wasn’t a character in the story we didn’t feel we “knew” in a well-rounded way.

I liked that this story was set in a casual setting for the Chief Inspector and his wife. It was great to see the dynamics of their marriage. After the murder the Inspector brought in only two of his staff to help him. I’ve liked Beavior in previos novels but in this one I loved him. He was so humorous in an understated way that, to me, he was sweet and charming.

Can we recommend this book? Most definitely – for men and women alike.

Please note: A Rule Against Murder is the US title. In Canada, UK, and Commonwealth it’s known as The Murder Stone. For more on Louise Penny’s books (all 8), visit her website here: Louise Penny

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