LOUISE PENNY – A Rule Against Murder. St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, January 2009; reprint paperback: September 2009. Published in the UK and Canada as The Murder Stone.

LOUISE PENNY A Rule Against Murder

    In the fourth of Penny’s fine Canadian crime series, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie are spending their wedding anniversary at the palatial Manoir Bellechasse lodge, within driving distance of Three Pines, the idyllic isolated town where the three earlier titles were set.

    The lodge is also the site of an annual reunion of the Morrow/Finney family, a dysfunctional group that harbors resentments and hatreds that go back decades. At first a bystander to the family’s in-fighting, Gamache becomes a major factor in their internal drama when the oldest daughter is crushed to dead by the newly installed statue of her father, a bizarre crime that borders on the impossible.

    The novel is littered with red herrings and other misdirection ploys that culminate in a hairbreadth encounter on the roof of the lodge that threatens the innocent as well as the guilty.

    The strong suit of this series is the portrayal of Gamache and of the setting, which, as in the Three Pines novels, is as significant a factor as the characters. In 1957, I spent a summer working at a lodge in Glacier Park, in a setting that rivaled that of the novel for its natural beauty. Manoir Bellechasse is extraordinarily well run, with a stuff that functions almost like the mechanism of a fine watch, a characteristic also of the lodge where I worked.

    I will add that there were undercurrents of hostility in the Glacier staff, but nothing that reached the level of venom that festers throughout Penny’s novel.

      Previously on this blog:

Still Life   (reviewed by Walter Albert)
A Fatal Grace   (reviewed by Tina Karelson)