This novel is the third in the Armand Gamache series which takes place in Quebec, Canada. The review is the last of six for my cozy mystery challenge.
A quotation from the first page:
“You going tonight?” Clara asked, trying to distract the old poet from taking aim at Monsier Béliveau. “Are you kidding? Live people are bad enough; why would I want to bring one back from the dead?” With that Ruth whacked Monsieur Bélieau in the back of his head.
The village of Three Pines prepare for their Easter egg hunt, hiding wooden eggs around for the children. One gets an impression of the colourful villagers immediately, e.g. old Ruth Zardo who throws her eggs at people rather than trying to hide them. She was the one who warned the others against using chocolate eggs the first year, predicting that ´something bad will happen´. That year the villagers learnt that bears also like chocolate and quickly decided to substitute them with wooden eggs in the future.
This particular year offers special entertainment: a séance to wake up the dead. The first try has no effect at all, hence the medium (a psychic witch) suggests that they have another one in the abandoned Hadley house. As any reader could have predicted, something bad will happen again: apparently one of the participants is frightened to death.
Armand Gamache of the Sûreté is put on the case; an excellent agent as well as a kind and likeable person. Gamache has been to Three Pines before on a case related to the mysterious Hadley house. Apart from solving the case he has his own problems: some years ago he exposed a bent colleague, and since then strong forces within the Sûreté have wanted to get rid of him.
Canadian Louise Penny is brilliant at creating an atmosphere. Even though I don´t like superstition and psychics in crime fiction as a rule, I found this mystery more exciting and appealing than most of the traditional cozies.
One small minus: in the ongoing “civil war” between good and corrupt forces within Sûreté, Armand Gamache is almost too perfect, more like a saviour than a real human being.