I have finished the 55th book for the book challenge. It was Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mystery by Louise Penny.
This is a story about the ghosts of the past, for both Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Chief Inspector Gamache and Inspector Beauvoir have both been seriously injured in a shoot-out in an abandoned factory as they tried to save one of their own and prevent a terrorist attack on the LaGrande hydroelectric dam. Gamache is recuperating in Québec City at the home of his former boss Émile Comeau. Gamache has asked Beauvoir to take some time to look into the case of the death of the Hermit, for which Olivier Brulé was convicted, in Three Pines.
In Québec City, Gamache is busying himself doing research on the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in the Literary and Historical Society, an English language library near Comeau’s home. On his second day in Québec City, as he approaches the library, he sees a police presence. There has been a death inside the society–actually, a murder. The police ask for Gamache’s help as a liaison with the board members since his English is better. The dead man is Augustin Renaud, who has made it his life’s work to discover where the body of Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Québec, is buried. He had arrived at the Literary and Historical Society and wanted permission to talk to the board but they had denied him permission. Apparently he believed Champlain might be buried in the building.
Gamache and Comeau go to Renaud’s home which is filled with books and papers all related to Champlain. They finally find Renaud’s journal, which details the appointments that he had made in the few days before his death. He planned to talk to the Literary and Historical Society and also to the Champlain Society. He references two books that he bought in lots from the Lit and His that he had stored at his former wife’s home. The two men go to the wife’s home but they cannot find the books. The books are also not in Renaud’s home. Gamache theorizes that Renaud kept them with him but that they were removed from his satchel when he was murdered in the basement of the Lit and His. He searches the shelves of the library and finally finds them. They are the diary of Father Chiniquy and Champlain’s Huguenot Bible. They explain how they paid two Irish laborers to move Champlain’s body from a field to the building that is now the Literary and Historical Society. Gamache persuades the chief archaeologist to dig further in the basement of the Lit and His. They find the coffin of Champlain, but the skeleton in the coffin is not Champlain’s. It is a woman. But now Gamache still must identify the killer of Augustin Renaud. And that someone is a member of the board of the Lit and His.
Meanwhile, back in Three Pines, Beauvoir has been told to start with the assumption that Olivier is innocent. He visits Olivier in prison and asks him again to tell his story. Once again the story changes. Now he says that he doesn’t know if the Hermit was Czech or French-Canadian or English. He doesn’t know his name. He made up the name Jakob. He says he is now telling the absolute truth. Beauvoir goes back to Three Pines and finds he has several suspects: Marc Gilbert, Vincent Gilbert, Roar Parra, Havoc Parra, and Old Mundin. He investigates all these suspects carefully and reaches a conclusion. He has all of them meet together in the bistro. He explains what he is thinking to all of them. How the antiques played a part in the suspect tracking down the Hermit. And Old Mundin confesses that he killed the Hermit because he believed that the Hermit killed his father. He had seen a walking stick that was his father’s in an antiques shop in Montreal and traced it to Three Pines. He knew it came from Olivier and eventually followed Olivier to the cabin in the woods and saw all his father’s treasure in the cabin. Then he put the word “Woo” in fishing line in the corner and took the carved wooden word “Woo” to the cabin and killed the Hermit. Beauvoir tells him that the Hermit called Olivier “Old son.” And that the Hermit carved the word “Woo” under one of his carvings of a young boy. And of all the references to Charlotte. The Hermit was actually Old Munin’s father, who had faked his suicide. Old Mundin had killed his own father. Olivier will be released from prison.
The other ghosts that haunt both Gamache and Beauvoir are the ghosts from the horrible raid on the factory. Gamache replays the kidnapping of young agent Morin over in his mind. How he had to keep talking to Agent Morin on the phone for 24 hours with only a few seconds pause because the lines were wired so that a bomb would explode if there was dead air for more than a few seconds. They talked about so many mundane subjects and Gamache remembers them all. He especially remembers that he kept telling Agent Morin that they would find him in time and to believe him. Agent Morin said that yes, he believed him. Both Gamache and Beauvoir remember how Beauvoir went down to the basement to see Agent Yvette Nichol who was monitoring transmissions to see if she could get background noises and how she had discovered that the kidnappers where actually planning to blow up the LaGrande hydroelectric dam. Gamache had fought with Chief Superintendent Francoeur to send people to guard the plant and prevent this tragedy while he and several agents went to rescue Agent Morin.
Then both Gamache and Beauvoir find out that a video of that day in the factory has been released on the Internet. Everyone has seen it. Everyone but them. Someone has pieced together the video from their headsets and released it on the Internet. The whole world has seen it. Beauvoir views it with Ruth in Three Pines. Gamache watches it with Comeau in Québec City. Both men relive the horrors of that day in which both were shot and nearly lost their lives, where four agents did lose their lives. It is very traumatic for them and they are very upset that someone could have released this video. It is difficult to bury their dead when the dead keep resurrecting themselves.
This book is a heart-wrenching book. You really feel for Chief Inspector Gamache as he relives the conversations with young Agent Morin and you can imagine the guilt he feels about the death of this young man who trusted him, even though you know that Gamache did the very best he could do. You feel Beauvoir’s physical pain from his wounds as he recuperates, knowing that he still has not recovered and needs help now from the pain medication. But both Gamache and Beauvoir tackle their mysteries in their usual way, sorting through the facts and emotions to find the killer. And as usual, Louise Penny leaves us hanging on her every word until the very end to find out who really killed Augustin Renaud.