Tag Archives: mystery

Quirky Characters, a Charming Setting and Topical Issues: Louise Penny’s A Better Man

4 May

A Better Man
Take a small rural Canadian village. A bistro serving almond croissants and café au lait. A quirky cast of core characters, with a few new faces mixed in each new book of the series.

Mix in some current topical issues, in this case the effects of environmental change, social media reality and the how impressions can be shaped there by anonymity, doctored videos and the viral nature of opinions. Add other dark aspects of life, like violence against women.

What you get is a somewhat cozy mystery with enough rough reality mixed in that you won’t gag from the sweetness.

It’s a formula that is repeated throughout this now 15 book long series. Armand Gamache, an officer of the Surete du Quebec lives with his extended family in the (fictional) village of Three Pines in Quebec. He deals with various crimes (a rather shocking amount, for such a backwater) as well as issues within the Surete du Quebec. He carries the baggage of decisions he has made in his career in each new book. In this one, he is looking into the disappearance of a woman known to have been abused by her husband. He is helped by his son-in-law Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and other Surete agents that have appeared in previous books in the series.

I hesitate to make the suggestion, because it is a rather substantial reading commitment, but it really is best to read the series in order. There is enough explanation of the backstories of the major plot developments to get you through each book as a stand-alone, but your enjoyment will be deeper for seeing characters develop over time. Penny doesn’t pull any punches. She is not afraid to write main characters out of the script or involve plot twists that will shock you.

A list of the series in order from the first to the most recent is: Still Life, A Fatal Grace/Dead Cold (same book, different title), The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder/The Murder Stone (same book, different title), The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery, How the Light Gets In, The Long Way Home, The Nature of the Beast, A Great Reckoning, Glass Houses, Kingdom of the Blind, and A Better Man.  You can find them as ebooks and/or digital audiobooks to checkout from eLibraryNJ, eBCCLS, and Hoopla.

If you require s bit more convincing, take a look at Louise Penny’s web site, which features reviews and more describing the books in detail.

What I enjoy about the series is the morality of Armand Gamache and the plotting that keeps each book both familiar and surprising. And the food! The characters frequently indulge in food and drink at the bistro or at get-togethers at the villagers’ homes that sound awesome.

Written by:
Victoria Turk
Reference Librarian

Enter a World of Suspense: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

20 Apr

Turn of the Key
Ruth Ware is known by many as the Queen of Thriller Mysteries. The writing style carried through all of her books will draw even new readers into her work and a world of murder and suspense, that makes her books impossible to put down. This continues to be the case with her newest work, The Turn of the Key.

We are introduced to our main character, Rowan Cain, as she writes to a would be Solicitor Advocate, from jail in Scotland, proclaiming her innocence and pleading with him to take her case. Her case has received international coverage and she is desperate to find a lawyer that will actually listen to her. We discover why she is in prison and that things look rather grim.

Through the course of the novel, we learn more about the events preceding the crime and are led through to a very satisfying ending that will leave even the best sleuth guessing. If you are seeking a new thriller or simply wish to check out some of Ruth Ware’s writing, The Turn of the Key is something that should be on your radar.  You can borrow it as an ebook or digital audiobook from eBCCLS and eLibraryNJ.

Written By:
Lauren Lapinski
Circulation Assistant

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