Fair warning. You have to read The Brutal Telling before reading this book, and here is why. In this book, Penny deftly juggles three events in the air with the dexterity of a pro. One ball is the death of the hermit in the previous book and whether or not whom they put in jail for the crime really did it. One ball is a devastating terrorist event that takes down some of Chief Inspector of the Surete, Armand Gamache's, officers and injures some. You can't always save everyone. The third ball is the murder of the amateur archeologist, Augustin Renaud, who was notorious for looking for the body of the founder of Quebec, Champlain. Oddly enough, the Provence has found many people, minor and major, but no one has been able to find the one that everyone really wants to find, their founder.
While Gamache sends one of his officers to investigate the hermits murder again in Three Pines, he is recuperating in the walled in part of Quebec City, with his old mentor, Emile. The body is found at the English Literary and Historical Society, a little known English library that most Québécois would not know about, especially the French. Gamache has been going there to do research, in order to take his mind off of the tragic events, on the last battle of the French and Indian War that made Quebec English territory.
When Renaud's body is found buried in the basement, the local police come to investigate and meet Gamache and ask for his help. At first he declines, but soon he can't help himself and becomes quite interested in the mystery. The floor of the basement was scheduled to be cemented over the next week and while they advertised this, the members of the board were the ones who would best know. The body would never have been found if the killer hadn't accidently cut the telephone wires under the basement floor.
The other possibilities are the Society of Champlain. Renaud had gone to them telling them he had solid information on where the body of Champlain was buried. But Champlain the man, had secrets, and perhaps the Society would not want these secrets to come out or maybe they wanted to discover the body themselves. No one really liked Renaud and he was known for saying he had found Champlain, only to find the basement of a Chinese restaurant.
This book is amazingly well written and the best Penny has written so far. I couldn't read the pages fast enough to find out what happens in Three Pines and whether the true killer was caught or not, and what exactly happened that caused so much destruction that leaves Gamache haunted by it, and last, but certainly not least, who really killed Renaud and is the body of Champlain hidden under the basement of the Literary Historical Library?
I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell