Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is fast becoming one of my favourite coppers. Set in French Canada our extremely humble hero is on leave after a traumatic experience. He is pulled into a local case due to not only his fluency in English and French but also his reputation which is stellar. A man known to all locally has been found dead in the cellar of the English library. He is a historian of sorts who has devoted his life to finding the grave of the man who presumably started colonizing the city many years before. Rumours start flying and the situation immediately becomes yet another French/English problem. We meet a raggedy bunch of volunteers who run the library but none seem like they have much motive. In fact, their entire existence seems to be surrounded by the library and keeping up the tradition so would presume to be the last people to jeopardize their world. Unfortunately they are the ones who have the keys to the place and there was no sign of a break in leaving the police befuddled. Gamache follows all kinds of leads and reads back into the history of the city whilst trying to exorcise the last case from his head. We read throughout the book snatches of conversations and how his last case went down as Gamache thinks of them. He was physically wounded but his emotional scars are far worse.
Meanwhile an old case is bothering Gamache. He gets letters daily declaring the innocence of a man they have convicted of murder. It is not sitting right with him and he sends someone in to investigate but on the quiet. This is where we visit all the wonderful characters from Ms. Penny’s previous books. The policeman he sends doesn’t particularly like any of these people and is dreading going in alone. He finds not only acceptance but also some great dialogue and even friendship from some very unlikely sources. This book is two cases told simultaneously so really two for one. The policeman he sends also is recovering from their previous case and so has a real excuse to rest and heal in this small town. Penny uses just enough description to give you a great picture but not too much that you get bored. How blunt it that? You can probably tell how much I like poetry – could never really get on with much of it. Anyway two thumbs up.