The Cruellest Month is set in April so it is quite a coincidence that I read it this month. Louise Penny was recommended to me by friend and fellow blogger Sadje I am a great fan of Cosy Mysteries of the Agatha Christie kind and Sadje promised that Louise Penny would be similar.
The setting of this book is the tiny village of Three Pines in Quebec. The characters are well drawn, much like in Miss Marple’s village St. Mary Mead. There are a few modern twists such as the gay couple owning the village Inn.
The action begins at this inn/bistro where locals and a ‘psychic’ are gathered for a seance. Another seance is suggested to be held at a deserted/haunted house.
During the second seance, a woman screams and supposedly dies of shock and fear. The autopsy on Madeliene , the dead woman, reveals poisoning by Ephedra. The ‘poison’ is a substance found in a plant that is used in slimming pills.
Inspector Gamache and his team are assigned to the investigation. There follows a thorough examination of those present at the seance for motive and opportunity. The murdered woman’s background provides interesting leads.
A parallel thread that runs through the investigation is the backstory of Inspecor Gamache. Having uncovered corruption in his own department , Gamache is embroiled in a secret vendetta against him. His family becomes the target of a smear campaign. Undeterred, the Inspector and his assistants solve the crime and find the culprit.
I began reading this book with high expectations. The small town setting seemed comparable to my favourite cosy mysteries. The investigation was well researched and plausible. Yet more than two thirds of the way into the Story my interest tapered down . The end seemed to drag leaving me disappointed. Maybe I had anticipated too much.