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review 2019-10-28 14:00
Full Circle for Armand Gamache
A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #15) - Louise Penny

So this is a very good Louise Penny book following the Armand Gamache and another change in his professional and personal life. I gave "Kingdom of the Blind" three stars due to that whole opiod epidemic thing that still gives me hives when it is referred to in this book. I think Penny is a bit repetitive at times, but not as badly as she has been in the past. Though I gave this five stars, I honestly think this is a 4.5 star book (I rounded up) due to the ridiculous side plot with Clara and her art. I would happily just read about Gamache and his cases with the villagers there as a chorus in the background. Anytime Clara is elevated in the forefront in these books though I get totally lost. I cannot keep reading about her art anymore. 


"A Better Man" has Gamache back as head of the homicide department (the job he had in the first book in the series). Gamache has been demoted and though many thought he would just resign and leave due to the insult of the job he was offered, he decides to take the position. This leaves Gamache and his son in law, Jean-Guy as both heads of homicide. Jean-Guy though is awaiting a move that will take him and his family to Paris. An officer we have me in the previous books, Agent Lysette Cloutier, is dealing with a personal matter. A friend has called her to ask for help in tracking down his missing and pregnant daughter, Vivienne. Gamache offers to go and see what's what since this way it will help smooth over things and allow Jean-Guy to focus on running the department. Of course things are not what they seem and Gamache and Cloutier are both concerned Vivienne, was murdered by her alcoholic and abusive husband. If that's not enough, we also have one of my favorites, Isabelle back and interviewing for potential jobs. She's still there though helping out Gamache on this case. And of course as I said above, we have Clara and her new art medium getting panned and slammed via social media along with Gamache's return to homicide. 


So Gamache seems even more solid in this installment. He is more thoughtful about his actions and the repercussions that can happen. He is quick to make sure he's not seen as overstepping with regards to Jean-Guy's position and the new head of the Sûreté du Québec. The whole Gamache has enemies things needs to die a quick death. I just don't have the energy for it anymore in this series. At least the ending gave us a resolution on that whole thing so I am hoping that we don't see anymore of that. Gamache is affected by the case he's working on with Cloutier. He can't help imagine what he would feel like if his daughter Annie was missing. And I do like that he is able to take a step back and give warnings to several of the police officers about their actions and how they treat suspects. I think this may be the first Penny book that touches upon police brutality. 


Jean-Guy was actually good in this one! I know, I am shocked too. Especially since I have been dragging the guy through the whole series. He's matured and is a good leader. He learned from Gamache and it's a shame we don't get a chance to see how he would have handled the role. Penny is not doing an 11th hour reprieve here, Jean-Guy, Annie, their son are really moving away. 


We also get POVs of Cloutier and Isabelle. I am looking forward to the next book since it shows some exciting things underway for Isabelle. I loved how tough Isabelle is and how she's also learned a lot from Gamache and how to take apart a case and follow through on your instincts.

We get introduced to a new character, Cameron, who I wonder will turn up in future books. 


We get the village of Three Pines. Ruth and her weird duck, her bad poetry, and her seemingly fighting back via social media at those who are attacking Gamache. The Clara thing was not good. I don't even know what to say about it other than that.


The writing was really great and I liked that for once we had everyone looking into a murder case without wider implications into a criminal conspiracy. This one had more heart I thought. The flow was great from beginning to end and the ending was a nice little surprise.

The setting of Three Pines continues to get best murdery village every awards though. Seriously, anywhere near that place should move. 


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text 2019-09-12 18:49
2019 Halloween Bingo - International Woman of Mystery
A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #15) - Louise Penny

It’s Gamache’s first day back as head of the homicide department, a job he temporarily shares with his previous second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Flood waters are rising across the province. In the middle of the turmoil a father approaches Gamache, pleading for help in finding his daughter.

As crisis piles upon crisis, Gamache tries to hold off the encroaching chaos, and realizes the search for Vivienne Godin should be abandoned. But with a daughter of his own, he finds himself developing a profound, and perhaps unwise, empathy for her distraught father.

Increasingly hounded by the question, how would you feel…, he resumes the search.

As the rivers rise, and the social media onslaught against Gamache becomes crueler, a body is discovered. And in the tumult, mistakes are made.


Reading for International Woman of Mystery

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text 2019-09-10 22:56
2019 Halloween Bingo - upcoming reads
The Testaments - Margaret Atwood
A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #15) - Louise Penny
The Unkindest Tide (October Daye) - Seanan McGuire
Sapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy #4) - Ilona Andrews

Now that's what I call spoiled for choice.



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review 2018-12-23 21:46
Kingdom of the Blind-24 Tasks
Kingdom of the Blind - Louise Penny

Read this for St. Lucia, luckily this was released in November 2018.



Not much to say with this one. I think the earlier brilliance of this series is gone honestly. I just didn't feel engaged while reading this the past two days. I think the bigger issue is that Penny flips flops back and forth between the action at the Sûreté du Québec/with a cadet and the village. I was more invested in the village happenings and with Myrna. I also 100 percent cannot keep reading about Gamache and the opioid epidemic anymore. It feels disingenuous as hell and people caring about this (due to the high number of non people of color that are being affected) is something that I wish that Penny would address if she is going to keep banging on about it. I was interested more in the murder investigation, and I really wish that Penny had made that the main focus of this book. The only good thing that I really can say is that my least favorite character may be making an exit from this series. Thank goodness.


"Kingdom of the Blind" takes place several months (I think almost a year) after the events in "Glass Houses." We have Gamache suspended from the Suerte, but yet still uncertain about his future. There is an investigation into how opioids managed to get through the net that Gamache had laid out to capture the criminal syndicate. It appears, per usual, Gamache is in someone's cross-hairs to take the blame for things. While that is going on, Gamache appears to meet a notary at an old abandoned farmhouse. To his surprise, Myrna and a young man that they don't know also shows up too. They find out that they were named as executors in a will to a woman that known of them knew. Gamache puzzles out who this woman was and why she would do such a thing. This eventually leads to a dead body and Gamache and Jean Guy trying to figure out if there are any links between these things or not. 


As I said above, the book veers back and forth between Three Pines (my favorite parts of the book) and Gamache and Jean Guy dealing with the fall out from their actions at the Sûreté du Québec. Three Pines is dealing with a blizzard that knocks out power, but causes he village to pull together. I found myself snuggling under the covers and only venturing out of bed to find hot chocolate while reading these sections. At this point, if you are a long-time reader you know everyone and their backstories. It's just nice to see Ruth, Myrna, Clara, Olivier, and others in this one. 


The Surete sections are the weakest because per usual we have Jean Guy doing his doubting Thomas routine with Gamache. I am glad Isabelle gave him a verbal slap about it. This character has shown zero growth in the last 5 books and he's getting old. I also don't see him as being a worthy successor of Gamache since he doesn't listen and likes to just treat everyone like a liar and suspect.  I was hoping that eventually this book would spin off to follow Isabelle and her family. I loved her scenes with Gamache, and was happy to see that Gamache still includes her in his thoughts, and she was active with helping with the murder investigation that took place too. 


The writing in sections was quite good, and in others felt hampered. I felt as if Penny was trying to work out in a realistic way what she threw down in the last book, it just didn't work. The flow was up and down since there are two different plots going on in this one. Only plot one (will and murder investigation) actually worked well and was firing on all cylinders. 

The setting of Three Pines in this one was appealing. 


The ending left things on a different note that I wonder about. I don't know if this is the end of the series or not. Things are left up in the air, and it does seem some characters are taking their final bow. 


St. Lucia's Day

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review 2018-04-24 14:51
The End of Armand?
Glass Houses - Louise Penny

I think I am being overly generous with four stars, but honestly, when I read a ton of books over a few days, I just go back with my gut feeling about books. So for me, this was not the worst out of the Armand Gamache series, but it was definitely not the best. I felt myself just rolling my eyes at another book looking at the opioid crisis. Maybe because I feel a bit tired of reading about how predominantly white families are torn apart and how countries (the United States and Canada) need to do something. This book just felt a bit samey in parts is the big reason why I didn't give it five stars. We have Jean Guy betray Armand again, Armand forgiving him again, Three Pines being at the center of something massive again, the villagers involved again.


"Glass Houses" appears at first to be another murder mystery, but something else is going on in this book. We have Gamache on the stand as a witness at a murder trial. We don't know who died (and it takes a while to get there) but something is going on with Gamache. He seems to be hell-bent on making sure the trial is a cover for something else. And once again it takes the readers a while to figure that out. 


I have to say that Gamache's reasonings in this one made absolutely no sense to me. I think that Penny threw it out there to once again have some conflict between Gamache and Jean Guy. At this point, Jean Guy is freaking Thomas from the Bible. He always has doubts about Gamache, but we are supposed to believe he loves Gamache the most. A real life human being (Gamache) would be sick of it at this point and have an actual human reaction instead of constantly turning the other cheek. 


We get more interaction with the villagers in this one. The last one they felt thrown in the plot half haphazardly. This one makes more sense. I actually didn't want to strangle Ruth or Clara in this one either.  


I did like how the villagers even called out the things that they have done that they still have regrets over. We have Clara regretting not listening to Gamache that led to Peter's death, Ruth regrets her mother choosing her over her cousin, Olivier admitting that he used to steal from people by omission, etc. 


The book jumps back and forth between Halloween and what led to somehow being found murdered in Three Pines along with the murder trial which is taking place in the present day. I have to say that the back and forth in the book was hard to take after a while. I just wanted to either read about the trial or the murder. I was sick of trying to figure out what was going on. The flow was up and down a lot. Once you are finally graced with knowing what is going on though, I just found myself bored until we get almost to the end of the book. 


The ending leaves things up in the air with a major character. I don't know if Penny plans on writing another book, but with the events that went down in this one, I don't see how Gamache can come back. At this point another character needs to be the focus of the series. 

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