Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Review: A Better Man by Louise Penny

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, Book #15)
by Louise Penny
Release Date: August 27th 2019
2019 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 437 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250230881
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

It's Gamache's first day back as head of the homicide department, a job he temporarily shares with his previous second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Flood waters are rising across the province. In the middle of the turmoil a father approaches Gamache, pleading for help in finding his daughter.

As crisis piles upon crisis, Gamache tries to hold off the encroaching chaos, and realizes the search for Vivienne Godin should be abandoned. But with a daughter of his own, he finds himself developing a profound, and perhaps unwise, empathy for her distraught father.

Increasingly hounded by the question, how would you feel..., he resumes the search.

As the rivers rise, and the social media onslaught against Gamache becomes crueler, a body is discovered. And in the tumult, mistakes are made.

My Thoughts
A Better Man is the fifteenth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, and I felt a bit let down in this book.  I am a huge fan of this series and have appreciated the tension and suspense in the earlier books, such that I have stayed up late reading them to find out what happened.  That tension was lacking in this entry however, which made the book seem a bit lackluster to me as it didn't have that edge these books tend to have.

First of all, I am a huge fan of Armand and am in awe as to how he can pull off the near impossible. He is one of those people who always gives someone else a chance despite having done something to him as he easily forgives, but he never forgets.  Having risen to chief of Surete, he has a lot of experience in the field which is why I had a hard time believing that someone of his caliber could make some of the mistakes he made in this book. Furthermore, some of the careless behaviour by others would never have been tolerated by Gamache so I couldn't understand why he would tolerate some of the stuff in this book.  His personality just seemed...off, and I didn't like it, not one bit.  And you couldn't blame the issue with his son-in-law, Beauvoir, for it either.  For the record, I wasn't crazy about Jean-Guy in this one either and the two of them have created fireworks in previous books together.  

While I found the plot moderately interesting, it definitely didn't have that explosiveness that one is used to in a Louise Penny book.  There really wasn't a lot to like about the various characters and that is saying a lot as I have enjoyed previous characters in all the books, even the bad guys.  The author usually has this nice touch she is able to put on character development that makes you feel sympathy for even the bad guys, but that didn't come across in this book.  What's more, the mystery didn't really get fully investigated until almost two-thirds into the book, at least in a full investigation, and I wasn't crazy about the moral lessons that abounded everywhere.  Let people make their own minds up about what they read rather than trying to get a reader to agree with everything an author wants as it doesn't sit very well. I do have to say that the author's writing skill are still up to par and she is a whiz at descriptive scenes, but those broken up sentences did grate on my nerves after a while. As well, when is Armand finally going to fight back for what was taken from him? Where did his fighting spirit go?  I want the fiery Armand back.

A Better Man is one of the weaker entries in this series, at least in my mind.  I just couldn't wrap my head around the mystery and why everyone seemed to take it so personally.  Don't get me wrong, what happened to Vivienne was absolutely terrible, but these are seasoned policemen and Armand was Chief of police and has seen things that are far worse (one of which was brought back in this book).. So, it just seemed out of character and didn't make sense, especially if you have read all the previous books in this series. If I had not read any other books in this series, I probably would not have noticed anything wrong, but having been a fan since the beginning, it was noticeable, even the writing.   While I can't bring myself to part ways with Armand as of yet, I was disappointed in this one and sincerely hope the next one is more explosive and interesting.  If you have not yet read any books in this series, start at the beginning as you are in for a treat.


  1. oh well, they can't all be hits. better luck with the next book.
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. It was still an ok book, but when you are used to the books she normally writes, it was a bit of a disappointment. I am still looking forward to the next one though.