The book starts off with a drive through the Ville-Marie tunnel in Montreal. The driver makes it through, worrying the whole time about whether or not the tunnel will collapse. Having lived in Montreal, I found this hilarious, and I was immediately sold on the book. For everyone else not familiar with the state of the roads in Montreal, I’ll say the characters are likeable and the intertwined mysteries are exciting.

I’ve never read any other books in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, but that wasn’t much of an issue. The relevant back-stories are sketched out in enough detail and early on so a newcomer can get right into the story. The only issue I had was with one character, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. I found I wasn’t very sympathetic to his plight, but perhaps if I’d read the other books I might’ve cared more.

The book follows two mysteries – the death of an old woman (who it is I won’t say), who was about to reveal her secrets to an old friend of Gamache, and the scheming within the police department. Often when two stories are intertwined like this I find myself frustrated, strongly preferring one over the other, or just getting into one story before it switches to the other. I didn’t have this issue with this book. The stories are interweaved in a way that feels natural, and I was interested in both.

The characters were immediately likable and I found myself thinking about the book when I put it down. There are only a few settings, but they are described in rich and loving detail. The inner workings of the human heart are explored with sympathy and understanding.

I’m not a big fan of crime books, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying this one, and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.