A Better Man is the newly released fifteenth entry in Louise Penny's absolutely wonderful Chief Inspector Gamache series.
A Better Man picks up where the last book left us - Gamache has been removed as Head of the Sûreté du Quebec. The higher ups offered him the position of head of the homicide department, working under his former second in command. They hoped he would not take the position, but he won't give them that satisfaction and takes the job.
The case of a missing woman is the first case that Gamache takes on - as a favour to another agent......and it seems there is indeed more to the case. At the same time, devastating floods are threatening the province. And Gamache is facing harsh criticism online and in house from both the public and co-workers.
Oh, what's not to love about Louise Penny's books. Gamache is one of the most well drawn characters I've ever read. His quiet intelligence, calm manner, strength of character and unerring moral compass have endeared him to me. The challenges he faces in The Better Man had me wondering what the outcome would be.
The supporting (and recurring) cast feel like old friends. Well, mostly. There are those in the Sûreté that have their own agendas. But, I am always happy to reconnect with the residents of the village of Three Pines. The villagers are people you would like to know in real life - even Ruth the poet and her duck. And who wouldn't want to live in this picturesque, off the map village? ( I do!)
Penny's plotting is just as well done. The cases are believable and engaging and take inspiration from current headlines. Judging and sentencing through social media, the reality of flooding in Quebec and the nature of the crime against the missing woman. Nuanced and a joy to read alongside Gamache as he endeavors to solve the whodunit. The question 'how would you feel…' is used more than once as the search for answers continues.
I love the continuity and am very much looking forward to the next entry in this series. There are imminent changes hinted at. I hope they don't transpire, but we shall see. Read an excerpt of A Better Man.
And if you've not read Penny before, do yourself a favour and start with the first book (Still Life).