A Better man by Louise Penny

I have read this book before but I think I enjoyed it even more this time round, reading it a bit slower and taking more in.

Gamache returns from suspension to a demoted position, with the hierarchy thinking he wouldn’t, to find himself investigating a case of a missing daughter. The difficulty in the case is that the husband is abusive and a drunk so he is the first person that they want to believe killed her. I don’t think there have been many times when I have known who the killer was before Gamache.

Mirroring the emotions swirling around the fact that a pregnant woman has been killed is the state of the rivers. It is the start of spring and so the ice is thawing but then building up at bridges and the dams are in danger of giving way with the pressure of the water flowing down. Considerable suspense is built up around the weather and who solves the problem now that Gamache is no longer in charge.

Also woven into the plot is the use of social media to make or break people, the damage it can do and how people believe they are annonymous when using it along with the idea of a bond between fathers and daughters. There is a lot going on but it all comes together at the end on a bridge – very symbolic!

Penny’s writing has always interested me. She has created what I call the iron fist inside a velvet glove in Chief Inspector Gamache: a tension between cozy crime and a peek into the psyche of people who think differently. She is able to explore a point of view from the crime and relate it to the people in the village. Here, she straddles two paragraphs with the same idea of why do people care – one from the crime and one from the village.

When Gamache didn’t answer, Tracey sneered. “I live in a pigsty and you judge. I clean it up and you judge. Well, fuck you. I’m finally free to live the way I want.”

They were, Gamache recognised, the words of either an extremely well-balanced person who didn’t care what others thought. Or a psychopath. Who didn’t care what others thought.

“Why in the world do you care what others think?” demanded Ruth as they sat in the bistro, in front of the warm fire.


She also uses fragments of sentences and quite a lot of short paragraphs to keep the story moving along.

It’s a swirling mass of emotions that ends up in love and kindness and a better man winning.

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