APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
--T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland
The Cruelest Month, the third in the Inspector Gamache series, shows a bit more of the serious turn that continues to take place in the rest of the novels. Of course, there is a murder with plenty of suspects and plenty of possible motives, but there is also a psychic and a seance, jealousy, and a betrayal within the ranks of Gamache's own team.
Ruth Zardo, the curmudgeonly old poet and my favorite character, continues to grow. Sly, witty, bitchy, and compassionate in turns, Ruth is a highlight in every book even though she makes only brief appearances each time. The familiar village characters are all here, but new ones are introduced.
While the willingness of everyone to feel the inherent evil of the Hadley house and then proceed to conduct a seance there seems far-fetched, I always love the characters themselves--full of personal flaws and secrets. The comic relief provided by several characters and their dialogue continues to amuse me, even as the machinations within the Sûreté du Québec to cover past and present crimes continue to add to the darker element and growing apprehension.
It is best to read the series in order (I wish I had done so) and to keep in mind that they get better with each new addition. Better and darker, but still with plenty of warmth and compassion from Gamache and witty repartee among the Three Pines familiar characters.
Read in Oct.; blog post scheduled for ?
Purchased. Minotaur Books
Mystery/Police Procedural. 2010. Print length: 318 pages.