While this is the fourth book in Penny's Superintendent of the Surete Armand Gamache mysteries, you don't have to have read the other books to read this one as it doesn't take place in Three Pines like the others do. July 1st is Gamache's wedding anniversary and for the past thirty-five years he has taken his wife to the remote luxury hotel, Manoir Bellechasse in Quebec, Canada, made of old wood that has been there since the robber barons. The Morrow family are there having a family reunion. The mother remarried a man named Bert Finney, who worked for her husband. Her children included Thomas, the eldest, then Julia, Peter (who is from Three Pines and you get to see a side of him that is quite ugly), and the youngest Marrianna who named her child Bean and refuses to tell anyone the sex of her child, in order to piss off her mother, not that anyone in the family feel it is a proper thing to ask. They are there to unveil the statue on a huge piece of marble of their dead father.
"On the outside the Morrows were healthy, attractive even. But you can't diminish so many people without diminishing yourself. And the Morrows, inside, had all but disappeared. Empty." This was a family where murder was more acceptable than using the wrong fork or littering. The mother was distant and each of the siblings hated each other. Thomas is a businessman, Julia married an insurance tycoon, who defrauded a lot of people and went to jail, Peter is a painter who does ok and accepts no money from either his father's estate when he died or from his mother, and Marrianna is an architect, who makes millions.
One night, the statue falls on top of Julia and kills her. The big question is not who could have done it, as there is no lack of suspects in her family, but how did a statue made of petrified wood, which is heavier than marble fall on top of her without leaving a scratch on the marble base.
Gamache calls in his team. "Inspector Beauvoir was the alpha dog, the whip-smart, tightly wound second in command who believed in the triumph of facts over feelings. He missed almost nothing. Except, perhaps, things that couldn't be seen. Agent Lacoste...she was the hunter of their team. Stealthy, quiet, observant. Gamache, the leader, believed that the key to solving a murder was to uncover the emotions, feelings, and secrets people kept, as it is often these things that drive someone to commit murder.
The longer things go on, the more the tension and emotions begin to rise at the Manoir Bellechasse. The night Julia died she vented her anger at each member of the family in a tirade that ended with her saying she knew father's secret. Did one of the Morrow family kill her over that? And most important, how did the statue fall? It was to heavy to be pushed by less than twenty football players. Once Gamache figures that secret out, he realizes who the killer is.
One thing about these books (the first one, by the way is Still Life, and I can't recommend it highly enough, Three Pines is a wonderful town with lively characters) is the food. It does take place in Quebec and most of the people are considered French and the French pride themselves on their food. So you have to read about the most amazing food, the luscious croissants , the cheeses, the pastries. It will make you hungry.
Funny, he thought, how dyed hair, heavy make-up and young clothes actually made a person look older.---Louise Penny (A Rule Against Murder p10)She said she’d been flattered at first until she’d read the description in the catalogue. Eleanor Roosevelt rose: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.----Louise Penny (A Rule Against Murder p35)She’d taught him that order was freedom. To live in chaos was to live in a prison. Order freed the mind for other things.Louise Penny (A Rule Against Murder p 40)
But you want murderous feelings? Hang around librarians…All that silence. Gives them ideas.Louise Penny (A Rule Against Murder p 62)God murdered Julia Martin?He is a serial killer.--Louise Penny (A Rule Against Murder (Jean Guy Beauvoir to a sculptor) p 205)
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rule-Against-Murder-Inspector-Gamache/dp/0312614160/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460750369&sr=1-1&keywords=a+rule+against+murder+by+louise+penny