Book Review: A Rule Against Murder

A RULE AGAINST MURDER | Louise Penny
(Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #4)
03.15.2011 | Minotaur Books
Rating: 4/5 stars

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The Manoir Bellachase is unlike any other hotel in Quebec. This hidden gem was hand built many years ago, log by log, and famous for hosting the dangerous Robber Barons as a location where murder was deemed alright. Many years have passed since those days and the Manoir is now an isolated retreat for guests looking to escape the everyday hustle and bustle. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie, can think of nowhere better to help them relax after a tumultuous few months. Unfortunately the peace and quiet they believe they’re signing up for is quickly disrupted when they learn they will be spending their time with the Finney family.

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Armand Gamache knew something most other investigators at the famed Surete du Quebec never quite grasped. Murder was deeply human. A person was killed and a person killed. And what powered the final thrust wasn’t a whim, wasn’t an event. It was an emotion. Something once healthy and human had become wretched and bloated and finally buried. But not put to rest. It lay there, often for decades, feeding on itself, growing and gnawing, grim and full of grievance. Until it finally broke free of all human restraint. Not conscience, not fear, not social convention could contain it. When that happened, all hell broke lose. And a man became a murderer.

The Finney family is like no other you will meet. They are extremely cutthroat and seem to hold a great sense of disdain for one another. Their reunion at Manoir Bellachase is supposed to be about honoring the father of the family, however, the focus of their trip and the Gamache’s is soon interrupted by a murder. Set near the town of Three Pines, Louise Penny brings back familiar faces from previous books in this series, as well as the Surete homicide crew to assist Gamache with solving the case. With an abundance of hostility filling the Manoir Bellachase everyone is a suspect. Can Gamache figure out whodunit before the murderer claims another victim?

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He walked into the unknown. Because that’s where murderers lurked. They might appear to walk in the same sun and drizzle, along the same grass and concrete, and even to speak the same language. But they didn’t really. Chief Inspector Gamache was willing to go where few others could. 

The fourth installment in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series might just be the best yet! Unlike the predecessors to A RULE AGAINST MURDER, the victim is not presented in the opening chapters. Penny starts this novel off by allowing the reader to get to know each member of the Finney family and the staff of the Manoir Bellachase, quickly building a cast of suspicious characters. When the murder is finally committed, it is one of seemingly unexplainable actions. As always, Penny builds a layered story for the reader, in which multiple characters take a turn at being the main suspect, all to ultimately lead to a great reveal. If you’re looking for a mystery that is light on the blood and gore, but heavy on interesting characters, pick up A RULE AGAINST MURDER or any book in this series.

If you’re looking to chat with other Louise Penny fans about the Inspector Gamache series, head over to the Penny Pushers Goodreads group and join in!

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