Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Fatal Grace

A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #2)A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

This is the second book in the Inspector Gamache series. (The first was Still Life.) Like the first, this one involves a murder in the quaint Quebecois village of Three Pines, and Inspector Gamache once again finds himself observing the villagers in order to find the killer. I love his style of investigation, which is to watch and listen. This makes the ambiance of the book quite delightful, as we are treated to many little vignettes of him interacting with the residents of Three Pines - often over food, so be prepared to be hungry while reading this!

As with the first book, I had quite a bit of the mystery solved before Gamache did, which is one reason I didn't give this 4 stars. The mystery of 'B KLM' and the bag lady was very obvious to me. But the real joy of reading this series is the wonderful characters that populate Three Pines, not so much the mystery to be solved. The people seem very realistic - not always likable and often with not the purest of motives. Each person is distinct, and has his or her own foibles.

Another carry-over from the first book is Gamache's team. Once again, Gamache brings on a rookie, to try to help him become a better investigator - this time it's a local officer. Thankfully, he turns out to be a better choice than the nasty Nichol (from the first book), who returns to the team (assigned by Gamache's boss) and does her usual bit of in-fighting and muddying up the investigation. Nichol brings a bit of an edge to the overall tone of the book - she's not likable and is quite underhanded. We also learn a bit more about why Gamache is not universally liked by his superiors, which made me like him even more.

But the real star of the book, like its predecessor, is the village of Three Pines. It's a storybook locale, especially during Christmas, which is when this book takes place. But, like its populace, it can also be quite unpredictable and even deadly, with terrible snowstorms and frigid temperatures. Ms. Penny keeps it from being too perfect, with her quirky characters and their all-to-real issues.

I will definitely be reading the rest of this series!

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