A Fatal Grace By Louise Penny
3.5 out of 5 Stars
I received this book via a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.
Ding dong, the witch is dead! The second book in Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache series features the murder of someone so incredibly awful and unsympathetic, you find yourself rather solidly in the murderer’s camp.
Welcome back to Three Pines, where newcomer and resident bitch CC de Poitiers has just been shuffled off the mortal coil. This, of course, would be the second murder in the small Quebec hamlet in as many years,and one can only hope it doesn’t bring down the property values too much. Beyond the mystery of who killed CC (and by the time the murder is committed, the reader is likely ready to kill her themselves), is the mystery of how. You see, CC was killed in the midst of a curling match, in full view of the entire town, on the middle of a frozen lake. Oh, and she’d been electrocuted.
Despite the fact that tiny Three Pines seems poised for a murder a year for the foreseeable future, for those who read the first book in the series, Still Life, it is quite nice to get back to he tiny hamlet, and the cast of characters we were introduced to in the first book. A few get a bit more play this time than the last go-round, Clara Morrow and Ruth Zardo being the main focus. Inspector Gamache is also back, along with his crew of investigators, and we all get down into the business of solving murders. This installment also builds on a few threads introduced into the background of the first book, giving us more insight into Gamache’s past, and why he seems to have so much time to spend in the village of Three Pines.
In all, this book was a decently enjoyable cozy mystery, though I wound up liking it less than the first book in the series. The murder was interesting and different, which I always appreciate. However, the secondary characters seem to be more akin to caricatures, letting loose one liners according to type (gay B&B owner, sole black woman in town, etc). The exposition I had trouble with in the first book is still present, though much improved.
Then there’s the random religious element to the story (which, granted, takes place around Christmas). Clara (for reasons I won’t get into here) spends a good chunk of the book believing that a bag lady she met might be God. Later in the book, Gamache also shares his own encounter with “God” in a north country diner. At the end of the book, once the mystery has been wrapped up, Gamache’s God story repeats. It’s not necessarily that this is badly done, but it is definitely not my cup of tea, and not what I read mysteries for, so unfortunately that whole plot line rather turned me off the series.
I gave this book 3.5 stars, it is enjoyable, and the mystery is pretty interesting. If you are a spiritual or religious individual, you will probably like it more than I. Aside from the “finding God” storyline, it is overall a strong mystery series, though I don’t think I personally will be reading any further.