Wow. This one was really good and I was happy to see the setting of the book takes place in a former Robber Baron home that is turned into an inn. Our favorite Chief Inspector is celebrating his anniversary with his wife Reine-Marie at an inn they have stayed at every year of their lives together. While there, they meet old friends from Three Pines (Clara and Peter Marrow) and unfortunately murder finds them again. I loved the ins and outs of this case even though it did not take place in Three Pines. I am glad I read this book and the next few others back to back since I got a very good rhythm with all of the characters introduced so far. Can I also say that it was great to not have Armand Gamache dealing with a police conspiracy? We do get into his family's backstory which was nice though.
"A Rule Against Murder" has Armand and his lovely wife Reine-Marie staying at Manoir Bellechasse. It is an inn near Three Pines (don't even ask, I still don't get how far apart they are based on the book description) which for once is not dealing with a dead body. While the Gamache's are staying there, we have Armand reflecting on his father's past as well as his own. The Gamache's arrival at the manoir coincides with a family reunion that has ties to Peter and Clara Marrow. When a murder takes place (by the way, the way this murder happens was a bit much for me, still gave the book five stars though) Armand and his team are quickly on the scene and have to get up close and personal in not only Peter and Clara Marrow's lives, but everyone they come across.
We get more information on Armand and Reine-Marie's lives together and we hear about Armand's father. I loved that each book reveals itself to us about his background. I don't know if I would have liked all of this information dumped on us in just book #1. It definitely keeps the reader invested though since you want to keep reading about what is going to happen next.
I also loved that we get more information about Peter's background in this one. We had hints here and there in books #1-3, but we really get to see who he is in this one. The crazy part is, Armand has known who Peter is for a long time, and I think he keeps hoping that Peter can change from a man being eaten alive by jealously that his wife is a better artist than he is. Based on the next few books, it's not looking likely though.
We get some other characters in this one that I don't want to reveal since it will spoil who the murder victim was and I like to leave that open for other readers in the series. Let's just say that the family reunion we are witness too makes the Wynant family in "The Thin Man" series look like the Waltons. And that's saying something. I don't know if I agree with the underlying premise though that the children in the family were loved. They were some warped human beings.
The writing was very good in this. Louise Penny always does a great job of describing people and places. And I love reading her food descriptions. The flow in this one was much better than the other books too. Everything felt properly laid out. That said, still the way the murder is later explained and how the murderer did I am giving side eye to. I don't buy it. And I spent way too much time Googling stuff on the internet after finishing. Once again, don't want to get into it since I would be spoiling events from the book.
It was nice to get away from Three Pines in this one. I do miss the village and the people there and was glad to see we return to them in the next book which I found to be a heartbreaker.