Sunday, November 14, 2010

Book Recommendations

If you look at the Shelfari shelf to the right, you will see two books by Louise Penny--The Brutal Telling and Bury Your Dead. These two books are part of the Chief Inspector Gamache series, and these two should definitely be read in order.

I am becoming more and more fascinated by this series. The last three books that I have read, in particular, have reached a level far above what I usually expect from a mystery story. They are difficult to classify because they are many things--detective series, village mystery, police procedural, political and social commentary. In these three books, however, the books have also reached a more literary and perhaps allegorical level. In spite of the fact that they are written about life in the "green" age, and in spite of the fact that they are mostly set in a somewhat romanticized--at least on the surface--rural village, these are also very much novels about the human personality, about complex social relationships, and about the nature of good and evil. Unlike many mysteries that are primarily just puzzles, characterization runs deep. Going into the woods in these novels is to make the journey into the woods of Hawthorne and Arthur Miller rather than an environmental journey with nature. The characters in the village are multifaceted human beings with faults and foibles, and it is clear that successful survival in life comes from accepting one's own failings and finding it in oneself to forgive and accept the failings of others.

Since they are mysteries, I should also say something about plot. They may not be just puzzles, but the puzzles are there, and they are intriguing. Bury Your Dead in particular has three going at once--one a continuation from a previous book, one a flashback to an incident between the two novels, and one self-contained within the novel itself. Amazingly well written!

1 comment:

Deb said...

dI will check these books out. I haven't read anything by Louise Penny yet!