Book Review: A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

Posted April 11, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: A Rule Against Murder by Louise PennyA Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
Genres: Mystery
Published by Minotaur Books on January 20, 2009
Pages: 322
Format: Hardcover


It is the height of summer, and Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are celebrating their wedding anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse, an isolated, luxurious inn not far from the village of Three Pines. But they're not alone. The Finney family -- rich, cultured, and respectable -- has also arrived for a celebration of their own.

The beautiful Manoir Bellechasse might be surrounded by nature, but there is something unnatural looming. As the heat rises and the humidity closes in, some surprising guests turn up at the family reunion, and a terrible summer storm leaves behind a dead body. It is up to Chief Inspector Gamache to unearth secrets long buried and hatreds hidden behind polite smiles. The chase takes him to Three Pines, into the dark corners of his own life, and finally to a harrowing climax.

Also by this author: Still Life, A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month, The Brutal Telling, A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery, The Nature of the Beast, A Great Reckoning, Still Life, Kingdom of the Blind, A Better Man, Bury Your Dead , The Beautiful Mystery , How the Light Gets In , The Long Way Home , The Nature of the Beast , A Great Reckoning , Glass Houses , All The Devils are Here

Fourth in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache cozy mystery series set outside Montreal, Canada, and revolving around the inspector.

A Rule Against Murder won the Arthur Ellis Award Finalist for Best Novel in 2009.

My Take
A very intense story about Peter’s family. And all those wasted years. The things family does to you that you carry with you all your life. The events that affect how you see the world. What’s truly terrifying in this is how unloving they are as they participate in the metaphorical biting and stabbing. The bit where Marianna fantasizes about changing Bean’s name, that she only takes joy in how her own child’s name will hurt her mother…sick… She doesn’t even consider how such names would affect her child! And yet they are so desperate to be loved. You simply have to look at the Finney/Morrows and know that if there were more love demonstrated in the world, the world would be happier.

What you will love is that snobby assumption by the Morrows…I had to laugh when the murderous couple was pointed out!

That confrontation with his siblings certainly has unleashed the beast in Peter. One who has been clawing and snarling to emerge. Now, I’m dying to dive into The Brutal Telling and find out how Peter has been changed by this.

We learn so much about Peter’s family, and also about Gamache’s past. Penny introduces his past so beautifully and avoids the dreaded info dump. It’s beautiful. The story. Honoré’s bravery. His son’s love. Then there’s a very telling moment when Mother takes Clara to task at the end over names! Penny takes this and soars with it, providing food for thought, and lessons for the future. One lesson certainly, to love your children as equally as possible.

Gamache has always been interested in poetry from the very first book in the series, Still Life, and this particular story finds a greater interest in it. It’s one of the few stories that raises my interest in poetry.

I simply adore Louise Penny. She sets a cozy scene with characters you love and hate. She pulls me in. Then she proceeds to baffle me with the hows and whys. It’s like reading an Agatha Christie but set in today’s world. I also adore the give-and-take between Armand and Reine-Marie. It’s playful, respectful, and so full of love.

The Story
A family reunion goes awry—ain’t it always the way? It’s murder on so many levels. A literal death as well as too many emotional murders as the Morrow siblings clash and bite at each other and their mother.

The Characters
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache still works at the Sûreté in Montreal as head of homicide. His beloved wife, Reine-Marie, is a librarian. Daniel is the son who lives in Paris whose wife, Roslyn, is about to give birth to their second child. Florence is their first. Honoré Gamache was Armand’s notorious father. Zora is the woman who became Armand’s grandmother.

The police
Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir is Gamache’s second-in-command with a decided preference for the city. And his wife, Enid, may be in for some problems. Agent Isabelle Lacoste finds it difficult to put herself in this victim’s shoes. Dr. Sharon Harris is the coroner.

The resort hotel, Manoir Bellechasse
Madame Clementine Dubois owns the Manoir Bellechasse, an old log cabin hunting lodge in the grand style of the Newport cottages. I do love her philosophy for the place and the forest. If only more people were like her. Pierre Patenaude is the maître d’ at the Manoir with an old-world sense of service. He sees the young employees as his children. Chef Véronique Langlois is a marvel in the kitchen and in unrequited love with Pierre. The too-cheeky Elliot Byrne teeters on the brink of being fired. Colleen is the young gardener who finds the body.

The snobbish, self-righteous, and insecure Morrow/Finneys
The gifted artistic Peter, a.k.a., Spot, and Clara Morrow are artists who live in Three Pines; Peter has been famous for years while Clara is about to have her first one-woman show in a very prestigious gallery. He has a happy marriage and a circle of loving friends, yet he’s viewed as greedy and cruel. The mediocre Thomas Morrow, the oldest, is seen as successful. His cold, insecure, and miserable wife, Sandra, seems a perfect match for him. Both punishing each other. Julia Martin is the second oldest and recently returned to the fold of family now that her about-to-be ex-husband, David Martin, was imprisoned for his deeds. Marianna, a.k.a., Magilla, the youngest, the most passionate, and the most successful is seen as a failure. One with a grudge she uses her with her sexless child, Bean, to hurt her mother. Bert Finney is married to the cold, rude, and mean matriarch, Irene Finney. He’s one of the few to believe he has blessings to count. Charles Morrow is the first husband and the children’s father.

The core characters in Three Pines
Ruth is still being followed by Rosa, the baby duck she rescued in The Cruelest Month, 3. Gabri has an explanation for his nickname while Olivier is in the background on this one.

Yves Pelletier is a sculptor with some intriguing insights. Soeur Marie Angèle had a famous cooking show, Midi Avec Ma Soeur.

The Cover
The cover is perfect with its askew steps leading crookedly from a bright and colorful start into a dark future.

The title is Madame Dubois’ comment, A Rule Against Murder, which she and her husband set in place when they first bought the place.

Reviewed by Kathy Davie, who is fast gaining followers in Goodreads and Amazon for her honest book reviews. Passionate about reading, writing, and editing, she searches the Internet for tips, tricks, and warnings with a keen interest in ideas that will foster reading in children as well as adults while aiding writers in their craft. Kathy blogs daily at KD Did It Takes on Books.

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