Catastrophic spring flooding, blistering attacks in the media, and a mysterious disappearance greet Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he returns to the Sûreté du Québec in the latest novel by Louise Penny.
Over the past 14 years, Ms. Penny has written a saga in which both hero and author have grown in ability and assurance. A Better Man, with its mix of meteorological suspense, psychological insight and criminal pursuit, is arguably the best book yet in an outstanding, original oeuvre. We look forward to additional encounters with the dignified, inspirational Armand Gamache.
[Penny's books] straddle the tricky line between edgy and cozy, between horrifying and humorous ... Penny doesn’t deal in superficialities; no character, victim or perpetrator, is all good or all evil, once the depths are probed.
Penny walks a tightrope over cozy territory with these characters and the quaint rural Québec setting of Three Pines. She takes a risk playing them off against the police procedural elements that dominate when Gamache and his Sûreté colleagues pursue their investigation, but she’s too good a writer to slip and fall. She uses these local characters to create brief, resonant moments of insight into the human condition, her true object of study ... brush strokes jump off the page ... Penny has a very distinctive writing style that first-time readers should be aware of—short paragraphs, frequent use of sentence fragments, repetitiveness. Sometimes it feels as though she’s assembling her thoughts from pieces of modeling clay, one chunk at a time...This uneven rhythm takes some getting used to, and it may be a little off-putting to readers looking for a smoother, more polished style of prose, but it’s part of what makes this author so successful at what she does. It conveys a thoughtfulness, a willingness to examine a situation from multiple angles, and a Clara-like uncertainty as to how the whole thing might be received ... a worthy addition to the Chief Inspector Gamache series, and her fans will love it ... Louise Penny is convincing proof that a Canadian setting, Canadian characters, and the Canadian point of view represent a deep, rich stratum in contemporary crime fiction that cannot, should not, must not be overlooked.