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The Murder Stone

It's ten days since I posted here. It wasn't intentional, I've been a little busy - I have been reading though, just not as quickly as I would like. Anyway, The Murder Stone by Louise Penny has to go back to the library today so I'll write a bit about it while I still have it: always easier!

Armande Gamache, a chief inspector with the Sureté du Québec, has taken some time off for his wedding anniversary and taken his wife, Reine-Marie, to the Bellechasse, a hotel in the forest not too far from the village of Three Pines. It's not their first visit there, they spent their wedding night at the hotel and have been there every year since. It's an expensive, exclusive place, wonderfully quiet and peaceful and they love it there and know the owners and staff well.

Also staying there are the Finney family, elderly mother and step-father, three middle-aged siblings and one grandchild. Gamache cannot help but study the family. He finds them a strange lot indeed and comes to the conclusion that there are problems in the family. Then a fourth sibling arrives and Armande and Reine-Marie are stunned to find that they know the couple very well indeed.

Armande continues to study this troubled family, only with a lot more interest now, until, one awful night, a death occurs. One of the siblings is killed when the statue of their father, newly errected in the garden of the hotel, falls on her and crushes her to death. It should have been an accident but the weight of the statue suggests it is not. The Sureté are called in and Gamache's team set about investigating. The problem is, the family are so troubled that literally anyone could be responsible for the murder...

The Murder Stone is book four in Louise Penny's excellent crime series set in Quebec. I've enjoyed them all and this one was no exception. Instead of a murder story set, as in the first three books, in the village of Three Pines, this one benefits nicely from a change of setting - although the village does appear briefly. This means the story is more of an Agatha Christie type murder mystery and I quite liked that. I also loved the hotel and wondered if such a place really exists. I would love to stay there, though am not sure we would be able to afford it! Actually I'm sure we would not...

Anyway, enough day dreaming, any negative points about the book? A couple of minor ones. I found the constant harping on about how ugly Mr. Finney was, grating, and wasn't quite sure what the point of that was. Surely not to infer that those who are less than beautiful are more likely to commit murder? And could a family really be *that* awful to each other? Truly?

All that said, I thoroughly enjoyed this instalment of these Canadian mysteries (there's a new one out soon, or maybe even out already). I reckon Canada is an excellent country to set mysteries in and have another series to start, by Vicki Delany this time, set the other side of Canada, in British Columbia. Can't wait to start the first one, In the Shadow of the Glacier, which is already on my tbr mountain. Are there more mystery series set in Canada? If you know of any give me a shout.


Hee! I enjoyed reading your review, as we're at totally opposite ends on this one. I've always had misgivings about Penny, but this book finished it off for me. I thought it was really snide and mean-spirited -- it was constant eulogising of Gamache (worse than usual) and his wife, and constant nasty comments about the family.

For some Canadian writers, there are Lou Allin, Giles Blunt, Anthony Bidulka (gay PI), Steve Hamilton (I think his hero technically lives in the US, but it's border country, and the couple I've read have been good), Barbara Fradkin, Mary Jane Maffini and Inger Ash Wolfe. Some of them might be hard to track down in the UK, though!
LOL!! If I'm going to be honest, S, I *am* waiting for Armande and Reine-Marie to have a row... to disagree on *something* for gawd's sake, and start chucking plates. *snigger* And these books are not faultless by any means, I'll admit that. I think I'm probably more smitten by the forests of Quebec than anything else. And the mystery element (aside from characterisation) is usually quite good. I think I've yet to guess who did it in any of them. I can well see why you dislike them so much though. ;-)

Brilliant, thanks for the Canadian author recs. Will set about finding a few. This is *huge* genre and I've hardly started on it really. Was shocked to find that a third of what I read last year were crime books though.
The only reason I kept reading long past when I should have done was because of the setting. She world-builds beautifully.

Hee hee! I think you might be waiting a while for the saintly Armande and R-M to exchange even a weeny cross word *g*.