Aug 30, 12
Read in August, 2012
This is such a powerful, triumphant book... and yet, it's not an easy book to read. It grips you from the first page and doesn't let go until the last page. And finally, you breathe that sigh of relief - it's done. The resolution has come, and now we all can get on with our lives, as we learn to live with what's happened.
This book really has 3 stories:
1. The incident that happened, where Gamache, Beauvoir, and several of his team were either injured/shot or killed. This incident happened approximately 6 months or so before the book opens, but it informs the entire story. We hear the plaintive voice of Paul Morin, a young sergeant who previously worked with Inspector Gamache's team on the previous book's mystery, "The Brutal Telling".
Paul was lent out to another arm of the Surete, and while on duty, he and his partner came across a truck that seemed suspicious. In the fray, Paul's partner was shot, and Paul was taken hostage. Now, Paul's captor has forced Paul and Inspector Gamache to talk on the phone until a team locates and frees Paul from a bomb, set to go off in 16 hours. But the bomb will also go off if Paul or Gamache stop talking for more than just a few seconds.
And so, this story slowly unfolds throughout the book... the dread and suspicion of what really happened during this incident - an incident that forever changed not only Inspector Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir, but many others' lives. Ms. Penny holds us in suspense until the very last few minutes of the book as to what happened. But we explore the event through the eyes of both Gamache and Beauvoir.
2. In the aftermath of the incident, Gamache is spending time with his old mentor in Old Quebec City. He's trying to heal his emotional and mental wounds... trying to find a solution for the immense guilt he feels, and hoping to still Paul Morin's voice in his mind - a voice that won't quit.
While here, Gamache takes refuge in the Literary and Historical Library - an Anglophile (English) library in the heart of a mostly Francophile (French) city and province. Gamache is researching the last battle in the French and Indian War (or the Seven Year's War). He sees a mystery involving Bouganville and possibly Captain Cook. And he's discovered this delightful English library filled with unknown and little known tomes. Because the English won that war, Gamache thinks his answers might be found there.
But, of course, there is a murder - at the Lit and His. A notorious Frenchman, intent on discovering the body and/or final burial site of Samuel de Champlain, the Father of Quebec. Why was this obsessed historian in the sub-basement of the Lit and His - a place that was once the cellar underneath a hanging prison? An ENGLISH building? And who killed him for what reason?
Gamache is still on leave and hesitant to be drawn in. But he's asked to join the investigation as a consultant, by both sides - the French and English. Because there are definitely sides... French separatists and Anglo elitists. While those involved don't necessarily fit in either group, they're aware that this situation (a French man murdered in an English library) could be the match that rekindles the flame. And so, Gamache is drawn in... and brings his mentor in, too.
3. As Gamache is pondering whodunnit at the Lit and His, he's bothered by the daily letters from Gabri. Gabri is always unfailingly polite and asks after Gamache, but he always ends with "Why would he move the body?", meaning his partner, Olivier, who was arrested, convicted, and in prison for the murder of the Old Hermit/Jakob from The Brutal Telling. Gamache is bothered just enough that he sends Beauvoir back to Three Pines. He asks Jean-Guy to assume that Olivier didn't commit the murder. If not Olivier, than who and why?
As Jean-Guy investigates, he starts to realize why Gamache spends time getting to know the people in Three Pines. But it's the unlikely alliance with Ruth that helps Jean-Guy address his own wounds and fears in his life and from the incident.
Bury Your Dead sounds depressing... about death. But in reality it's about life. It's about burying your past... the ghosts and regrets that haunt you... learning to live with what was or to accept it - whether you had a real part or not, and getting on with life. It's about laying emotional, physical, and psychological hurts and ghosts to rest. That's why it's such a powerful book. That's why it's so difficult to read. But within the difficult is the hilarious, the touching, the tender, and the real.