A Better Man - Inspector Gamache #15
A Better Man #15 Gamache by Louise Penny
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Agatha Award nominee
Published 2019, 437 pages
I absolutely loved this installment to the award winning series. It's one of my favorites. As usual, Penny's writing is stellar - both in describing the weather, the scenery, the feeling of Quebec, but also in describing very difficult feelings. This is an emotional story - for the characters, and for me.
THREE PLOT LINES
As usual there are three plot lines - a murder (or suicide or accident had to be determined), the current status of Gamache's career, and the lightest plot line involved Clara, the artist resident of Three Pines. Clara suffers a crisis of creativity, of uncertainty about her abilities. Gamache is demoted back to Chief Inspector instead of the head of the whole shebang. and the murder is of a young pregnant woman in an abusive marriage. (trigger warning: though it is a cozy mystery and the abuse and murder are mostly 'off screen', it is a major part of the story)
Domestic abuse is a theme and motivation throughout the story for several characters. Penny does such a good job of illustrating abuse from several angles and how far reaching the results can be. While not a treatise on how to break the cycle of abuse, it is touched on tastefully.
Emotional - both Gamache & Beauvoir find it difficult to remain impersonal in this investigation because they relate so strongly to the bereaved dad's actions and feelings about the death of his 20-something daughter. Gamache is often portrayed as calm, thoughtful, judicious, kind. There are places in this story where his anger, disgust, and ruthlessness threaten to spill out, showing he IS human. Beauvoir is frequently portrayed as a bit of a hothead, a man of physical action to resolve problems, and there are places here where he overcomes that inclination and holds back, thinks, exhibits restraint. The two men are such opposites of essential characteristics, and yet are shown over and over to have the utmost respect and love for each other. Neither is completely one emotional package or the other. Penny does an excellent job of portraying the dichotomy that is Gamache and Beauvoir.
With ever installment I find myself racing through the last chapter to see who the killer is. At various times through the story I lean to one person or another, just as she intends, I'm sure! This time when the killer is revealed, I wasn't totally surprised, but I had discounted the likelihood of that person - I couldn't think of the motivation. But then. The great reveal and the thought processes of the investigators in arriving at the conclusion is so helpful for my muddy thoughts!
In the last book, Kingdom of the Blind, it was revealed that Beauvoir and Annie, his wife and Gamache's daughter, will be leaving the Surete` and moving to Paris. This novel uses that upcoming move to really focus on the relationship, the extraordinarily deep friendship, the kinship of these two men. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a friendship like this. As Beauvoir and Annie board the plane for Paris at the end of the book, I'm eager to see how the next books develop.
I'm here to suggest, to prod, to encourage you all to read this series from the beginning and enjoy getting to know Three Pines, Armand Gamache and Jean Guy Beauvoir. You won't be sorry!!!