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BOOK REVIEW: Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Friday, November 16, 2018

 

The Blurb (From Goodreads):

It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society - where an obsessive historian's quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

Although he is supposed to be on leave, Gamache cannot walk away from a crime that threatens to ignite long-smoldering tensions between the English and the French. Meanwhile, he is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. "It doesn't make sense," Olivier’s partner writes every day. "He didn't do it, you know." As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive the terrible event of his own past before he can bury his dead.


My Thoughts:


I’ve been a fan of Louise Penny since her first book, Still Life, was published in 2006. When I met her at the Perth Writers Festival earlier this year, I was astonished to see how many books she had published and how many I had missed. I thought I’d better hurry and catch up with what’s been happening in the world of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec.

Bury the Dead is the sixth book in the series, and is set in Québec City, a lovely 16th century fortified town that is one of the oldest European colonies in North America. I really love the Canadian setting of Louise Penny’s books. They are so fresh and vivid, and I learn something new every time about Canadian history and life. Most of her books till now have been set in the fictional village of Three Pines, which – I joked to a friend recently – has had almost as many murders as Midsomer. Despite its extraordinarily high rate of murders, Three Pines is idyllic and makes me want to move there.

The change of setting to Old Québec was, nonetheless, welcome. I knew nothing about its long and bloody history, and found the history revealed in this novel fascinating. It is Winter Carnival, and the cobbled streets and slate roofs are thick with snow. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has not come to Québec City to join in the revelries, but to recover from an earlier investigation which had gone terribly wrong. The aftermath of that investigation haunts Gamache, but the details are only revealed slowly, through memory and flashback, and so the novel is really about two separate violent events, that reflect each other in surprising ways.

The murder in Québec City takes place in the Literary and Historical Society, an old stone library, where a historian’s body has been discovered buried in a shallow grave in the cellar. He had spent his career searching for the grave of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, which has been hidden for more than 400 years.

Meanwhile, Gamache’s second-in-command, Jean Guy Beauvoir goes back to Three Pines to reinvestigate the last murder which happened there, as Gamache has a terrible feeling that he had got it wrong.

So, stories within stories, deaths in the now and in the past, and a fallible detective who is nonetheless dogged and intelligent … Louise Penny writes top-notch crime fiction, and I’m really glad I’ve decided to read the whole series.

You might be interested in my review of one of Louise Penny's other books, The Brutal Telling.

Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.


BOOK REVIEW: The Wildes of Lindow Castle by Eloisa James

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

 


The Blurb for Book 1 (From Goodreads):

For beautiful, witty Lavinia Gray, there's only one thing worse than having to ask the appalling Parth Sterling to marry her: being turned down by him.

Now the richest bachelor in England, Parth is not about to marry a woman as reckless and fashion-obsessed as Lavinia; he's chosen a far more suitable bride.

But when he learns of Lavinia's desperate circumstances, he offers to find her a husband. Even better, he'll find her a prince.

As usual, there's no problem Parth can't fix. But the more time he spends with the beguiling Lavinia, the more he finds himself wondering…

Why does the woman who's completely wrong feel so right in his arms?


My Thoughts:

Book 1: Wilde in Love
Book 2: Too Wilde to Wed
Book 3: Born to be Wilde


Eloisa James is one of the world’s most successful romance writers, with twelve New York Times bestsellers under her belt.

She is also Mary Bly, a professor of English Literature and the daughter of the poet Robert Bly, of Iron John fame, and the short-story writer, Carol Bly. Mary Bly is married to an Italian cavaliere, or knight, and spends her summers in Florence.

So by day she lectures on Shakespeare, and by night she pens steamy bodice-ripping historical romances while her gorgeous Italian nobleman waits for her in their boudoir.

I don’t know why I find this so delightful. It’s like the plot of one of her own books, or a winsome, charming rom-com.

Her novels are both sexy and intelligent, funny and poignant, utterly predictable and yet still capable of surprising. Reading one is like drinking one of those utterly delicious, frothy concoctions that you get on holidays, with little paper umbrellas and a bright red candied cherry, that get gulped down in seconds and leave you waving your hand at the barman wanting more, right now, this very minute. And only after you’ve drank quite a few, very fast, do you realise what a kick is hidden beneath all that sweetness.

The Wildes of Lindow Castle is her latest series, focusing on the romantic entanglements of a large and eccentric aristocractic family. Book 1: Wilde in Love tells the story of Lord Alaric Wilde, second son of the Duke of Lindow, who made himself famous by writing about his exotic adventures in faraway places. Returning to England, his ship is met by mobs of screaming ladies. He escapes to his father’s castle, set on the edge of a dangerous marsh, only to find his notoriety follows him everywhere. The only woman not infatuated with him is Miss Willa Ffynche, who much prefers serious literature and Egyptology.

Book 2: Too Wilde to Wed is the story of Alaric’s older brother, Lord Roland Northbridge Wilde, who was jilted by his bride-to-be and so ran away to war. He returns to find his love working in the castle as a governess to his little sister and her little nephew, and the whole countryside sure that she has born him a child out of wedlock.

Book 3: Born to be Wilde explores the romance between Willa’s best friend Lavinia and Alaric’s best friend Parth. One is a frivolous but impoverished blonde who lives only for fashion. The other is a sober Anglo-Indian who has made his fortune in trade.

In all three, comic blunders and romantic entanglements abound. There’s the parson’s daughter who ends up in a madhouse, attempted murder in the marshes, a light-fingered mother addicted to laudanum, and a duke’s daughter who refuses to curtsey. Also, much rucking up of silk skirts and mucking up of satin breeches. It’s all great frivolous fun, and perfect holiday reading, cocktail glass in hand.

You might also like my review of Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.

Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!


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