Bury Your Dead, Part 1

Bury Your Dead, Part 1


One of the best things about being a librarian is having the ability to recommend great books to eager readers. I get to learn about all sorts of genres and the authors who write in them.

My dad was an avid reader so when he was in hospice with multiple myeloma he wanted me to recommend some good reads. The Brutal Telling had just come out on Playaway, which is a small MP3 player that contains one audio book. My dad couldn’t hold a book or maneuver a cd player at that point so this was perfect for him. I had read great reviews of Louise Penny’s books and had always meant to try one. So Dad started reading The Brutal Telling and was thrilled to tell me and my husband, Joe (also a librarian!), all about it. This, of course, prompted us to pick up the book and read along. All three of us fell in love with Louise’s writing, with her wonderful characters and with Three Pines. My dad was nearly to the end of the book when he started to take a turn for the worse and he passed away before he had a chance to finish it. During the second day of his wake, when all of us were saying goodbye to him, Joe told me to go ahead so he could be alone with my dad. . . . A few minutes later he told me that he wanted to tell Dad how the book ended.

So then I went back and started with Still Life and caught up to the rest of the series. When I read Bury Your Dead, I thought of my dad and how he would have loved the storylines and the continued investigation into the murder of the Hermit. After it was released, my library was host to Louise as she entertained 200+ very loyal fans. So I’m very pleased to be participating in the reread. Oh, and you’ll be meeting Joe as well . . . he’s bringing you Bury Your Dead’s Recap Part 2.

With Bury Your Dead, Louise Penny brings us not one, not two, but three brilliant storylines. She uses flashbacks to tell the tale of a rescue gone awry, in a way she has not done previously. The complexity of Gamache’s character comes center stage.

Each of the three storylines will be handled separately.

Recap (Chapters 1-11)

The book opens with an adrenaline-pumping description of a police stakeout . . . and the reveal that Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has made a mistake. What mistake? What could he have possibly done and how long must we wait to find out!?

Murder at the Lit and His:

Flash forward to the present day as Gamache is being consoled by his mentor, Emile Comeau. As a result of the mysterious incident (and the urging of his wife, Reine-Marie), Gamache takes a sabbatical to the quiet of Quebec City during Winter Caranaval to recoup.

While there, Gamache decides to take advantage of one of Québec City’s most iconic institutions, the Literary and Historical Society, to research the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. During the infamous battle, French General Montcalm was defeated by the English General Wolfe—a fate which took Canada out of French rule and handed it to the British. Gamache meets the librarian Winnie and various members of the Society’s board. While there, a body is discovered in the basement of building and our recovering Chief Inspector gets roped into the investigation.

The body is that of Augustin Renaud, a Champlain scholar who made it his life’s work to discover where Québec’s hero is buried. It seems that Renaud had consistently attempted to gain an audience with the Lit and His Board because he believed that Champlain was buried in their basement. Apparently, the man had a habit of making a nuisance of himself. While investigating, Gamache speaks with board members Elizabeth MacWhirter and Porter Wilson. The police state that Renaud was killed by a shovel at approximately 11 the previous evening . . . and that someone had to have let him into the subbasement where he was found.

Elizabeth MacWhirter meets Gamache at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, where they discuss the theory that the “English” may have murdered Renaud to keep the secret that Champlain was buried under the Lit and His. We then meet the young minister Thomas Hancock. Gamache asks if he is Québécois but as it turns out, he was born in New Brunswick. The Reverend sat on the Lit and His board for 18 months and tells Gamache that the Society refused to speak with Renaud. Gamache asks who has access to the basement and Hancock tells him that Winnie does. He then goes on to say that the subbasement where the body was discovered was scheduled to be cemented over in a couple of days.

Emile invites Gamache to the Château Frontenac hotel to meet with two gentlemen from the Champlain Society. René Dallaire and Jean Hamel tell Gamache that Champlain is believed to be buried near his statue in the city. The chapel where the statue now stands was burned along with all of their burial records, making it difficult to find his body. The other, more controversial, theory is that they dumped his body in a landfill while Québec City was expanding. Gamache visits the Notre Dame cathedral and meets a Father Sébastien to talk about Renaud. While there, he is told that the portrait that is most associated with Champlain is really that of Louis XIII’s accountant.

In the meantime, the board gathers to listen to Porter give a radio interview about the murder. Elizabeth then reminisces about the Separatist revolt in 1966 and how the Lit and His, an “English” institution, was attacked.

Gamache meets Inspector Langlois at Renaud’s home, which is covered with Champlainalia. After hours of searching, he comes across the diaries of Augustin Renaud.

Hermit’s Murder Revisited:

At the close of The Brutal Telling we discover that bistro owner Olivier Brulé is accused of murdering a man referred to as The Hermit. After Olivier’s arrest, Gamache starts receiving letters every day from Olivier’s partner, the affable Gabri, stating, “Why would Olivier move the body?” Gabri’s prodding prompts Gamache to send his assistant Jean-Guy Beauvoir to Three Pines to unofficially investigate.

As Beauvoir arrives in Three Pines, we have a recap of what happened in the previous book. Olivier had discovered that a hermit, who lived in a cabin in the woods, had an amazing talent for carving sculptures. Olivier exchanged food for the works of art and sold them and other valuables to an antiques dealer for a huge profit. The Hermit was later beaten to death and the weapon found in Olivier’s possession.

In Three Pines, Beauvoir visits the new inn, run by Carole Gilbert. While there he is introduced to Roar Parra, who, along with his wife Hanna and their son Havoc were all previously suspects in the murder of the Hermit.

Beauvoir decides to visit the scene of the crime and takes a Ski-doo to the Hermit’s cabin. On his ride he suddenly collapses from overwhelming “familiar” pain, only to be rescued by Dr. Vincent Gilbert, the hated “asshole saint.”

Upon recovering, Beauvoir visits Olivier in prison and tells him that Gamache has asked him to investigate his case further. Olivier admits that he has lied and proceeds to tell him how he became involved with the Hermit. He shares how he visited the Hermit every two weeks to gather the valuable goods to sell for his own profit. The Hermit had scratched the words Charlotte, Emily and Woo in carvings that he had made. Olivier confides to Beauvoir that he moved the body to implicate Mark Gilbert, the owner of the new inn in town.

Beauvoir proceeds to visit the shop where Olivier had sold the Hermit’s goods, the Temps Perdu. He questions the shop owner about Olivier’s items, under the ruse that he was Olivier’s partner and that he had died. Afterwards, Beauvoir calls to speak with Olivier, who admits to yet another lie, the Hermit was not Czech.

The Stakeout:

Now back to the story which permeates the whole book: The stakeout. In the beginning of Bury Your Dead we learn that Gamache is speaking to a young person via a set of headphones, telling the mystery listener that nothing bad will happen to him. Then we see that time is counting down: 47 seconds… 43 seconds… 36 seconds… All we know at this point is that officers are in an abandoned factory building with automatic weapons, ready to infiltrate. At this moment, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache realizes that he’s made a mistake.

As our other storylines unfold, so does the story behind the stakeout. A note from Agent Isabelle Lacoste tells Gamache that the atmosphere is intense at the Sûreté. Then we flash to memories of a funeral with uniformed officers: the first realization that someone has died.

And now the slow unfolding of the story, a brilliant device. While Gamache finds solitude at the Lit and His his peace is interrupted by haunting memories of gunshots, exploding wood and the words, “I believe you, Sir.” The fireworks for the opening festivities of the Carnaval de Québec prompt Gamache to remember that Beauvoir was shot on the factory floor.

Throughout the next several chapters Gamache recalls conversations with Agent Morin, the Sûreté officer who lovingly played the violin in the Hermit’s cabin in The Brutal Telling. The two talk about Morin’s childhood and his first swimming lesson. He speaks of his upcoming nuptials and Gamache tells of the Apache prayer that was spoken at his wedding with Reine-Marie.

We see the story through Beauvoir’s eyes as well. We discover that an officer, who had been investigating a stopped car had been shot. Agent Morin was apparently present at the incident.

Gamache then gets a call from a frantic man who was pulled over with a flat tire, a gun in his front seat. The man was terrified that the officers would find out what he was carrying in the back of his truck and, in turn, ended up shooting the officer and kidnapping Morin.

Favorite Quote

While on the phone with Morin, Gamache tells him about the Apache blessing that he and Reine-Marie used at their wedding. I was floored when I read it in Bury Your Dead because, oddly enough, Joe and I used it at our wedding as well. Here it is, in its entirety:

Now you will feel no rain
For each of you will be shelter for the other
Now you will feel no cold
For each of you will be warmth for the other
Now there is no loneliness for you
Now there is no more loneliness.
Now you are two persons, but there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon this earth.

Discussion Questions

1. Rene said, “I sometimes think we are a rowboat society. It’s why Québec is so perfectly preserved. It’s why we’re all so fascinated with history. We’re in a rowboat. We move forward, but we’re always looking back.” Do you think this is true? Is it unique to Québec?

2. Anti-English sentiment is a theme that runs throughout the book. For American readers; were you surprised that this still exists today? For our Canadian fans, have you ever encountered this?

3. Pere Sebastien tells Gamache there are a lot of reasons for murder. Gamache answers back that there is actually only one. “Beneath all the justifications, all the psychology, all the motives given, like revenge or jealousy, there lies the real reason. Fear. Fear of losing what you have or not getting what you want.” True?

4. Which of the three storylines appeals to you the most?

5. Gamache seems newly vulnerable—and fallible—in this book, compared to the earlier titles in the series. How does this change your view of him?

6. Do you think Beauvoir’s cynical view of Three Pines is beginning to change, and if so, how?

Discussion on “Bury Your Dead, Part 1”

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I see the Armand and Jean-Guy characters starting out as opposites in many ways. One follows facts, the other, instinct. Armand is always noble and right; Jean-Guy is always mistaken and shallow. But Armand starts realizing his mistakes, which break down the perfect image, Jean-Guy’s overcomes his problems to become more admirable. To become fully human, each struggles to see himself in more realistic, and humble, terms. And to forgive themselves. I think that a multi-book story arc that shows Armand as becoming increasingly mistaken, and Jean-Guy as increasingly capable, till their relationship is reversed, would be very interesting. The last stage of life often requires that we let go of our previous capabilities and responsibilities, and step aside. It behooves the younger generation to let us go with honor and love.

For you English teachers out there, yes, a red pencil would find some utility here. Forgive my over-eagerness in posting before pausing to reconsider.

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I am loving how, reading the books in order, the seasons unfold. I haven’t seen other comments on it. Winter, spring, summer fall… and over again in order as we go through the books. From the crunch of snow to promise of spring, flowers of summer and then on to colors of fall. It hits me every once in a while, and I love being in 3 Pines in each season, seeing what the residents are doing. Besides committing murder!

This was the only Louise Penny book in the small local library and thus my introduction to writer and series. I was hooked from the start. The combination of multi story lines and the Quebec social history etc, is amazing, being informative [better than a history textbook], also gripping.
I was surprised to see how much anti British sentiment is in the book and as a non Canadian it was something I knew of but thought had eased off considerably. I think the ‘lifeboat society’, an excellent metaphor to describe this and other societies who relive past battles and injustices. Moving forward yet facing backward. It is maybe another thread in all of Louise’s books, murder is seen as a way to resolve past wrongs?
The Gamache in this book is certainly fragile and fallible, however he [spoiler alert], learns and absorbs the grief and eventually emerges mentally more resolute and appreciative of his blessings. I loved the walks with and character of Henri, he has total uncomplicated love for and trust in Gamache and I hope Reine Marie.
Jean Guy and Three Pines. I’m not sure if it is physical weakness which produces the crack in his attitude to the village, or whether he is truly changing in how he thinks about the villagers. I hope so, because he needs them more than they need him. Ruth and Jean Guy are a classic ‘Odd Couple’, what a pairing and both with hard outer shells, likely soft an kind in secret.
Long live and write long Louise.

I think you may be having a problem with your own device. But if you’re not getting posts, why am I bothering to answer.

Linda, you made me laugh! I have a picture of Muriette’s missing posts floating around in space; it all seems like magic to me.

Do you think perhaps there are charming people out finding odd notes and postings in the shrubs and bushes and trees of quaint villages south of Montreal? Oh what a giggle that would be!

All that has happened here is that you are experiencing the ‘Three Pines effect’. Remember that once you crest the mountain and start down Moulin Road going into Three Pines, cell and internet services disappear. Armand always pictures his emails as floating about, waiting to swoop down on him when he leaves the village. This always makes me think of the Harry Potter movies, where their owls would swoop in and drop a letter to the Hogwarts student.

But now I’ve wandered away from our terrific author, so back to Louise Penny!!


I was intrigued by the fact that Armand found peace by doing research in a library.

When I was growing up libraries were my favorite places in the world. We moved often but with each move my Father always located and took us to the library. I met so many good librarians that directed me to and shared so many good books, teaching me how to locate books by my favorite authors, interesting science facts, history, information about other cultures and countries, and so much more!

Though there was disfunction in my home life, I learned how to find not only information, but the peace and stability that I so badly needed within the quiet walls and stacks of a library.

I love new technology and please don’t take my tablet but I sometimes feel sorry for the youth of today that they never learned how to use a card catalog. Such a pity that so many go solo and rely on computers, or Suri, instead of a knowledgeable, warm, living being to direct them to good literature while also exercising the ability to “shush” out disruptions.

Yes, Armand is a man after my own heart when it comes to libraries.

I agree, Linda. I remember my childhood walks to and from the library, my arms full of books, that never seemed to be so heavy I didn’t like it. I still remember the peace, the smell of furniture polish, and the wonderful, couldn’t possibly be replaced smell of the musty old books. When you opened them, they fell open to places read and loved by others. I think that sense of belonging to something larger than myself started with the idea that the library was full of books that other people had already found the treasures in… The walk home from the library is one of my most cherished memories – the sense of peace found there lasted for hours, and it always seemed to be sunset, which is a particularly poignant time. Isn’t it wonderful that memory is so laced with feeling? I couldn’t possibly have always walked home at sunset, but it seems that way to me. 😀

Yes, libraries are a place of peace and belonging. I used to joke that when I was in grade 7 the librarians must have thought I was another piece of furniture since I was always there at lunch time. The library was just across the alley from my school. It was a painful time for me as I really wanted a friend but couldn’t seem to make one..so I retreated to the library and books for my escape. I have loved libraries ever since. Maybe someday we’ll take a drive to Quebec City and visit the Lit and His. This book has really made me interested in visiting that city once again. (We went there many years ago but only for a day.)

Nancy, Julie, and Linda. Yes, the library seems like an inspired choice now that you mention it. It has always my favorite place too. Besides being in a quiet, somewhat isolated outdoor space, the library has always felt safe, calming, mine, a source of unlimited peace and treasure.
Now that I think about it, Louise has done an amazing job of setting up the library and the outdoors as safe havens for Gamache and Henri and then bringing in danger, death, fear, unbalancing the familiar safe havens. She did that so well in A Rule Against Murder too.

This is an interesting contrast to contemplate. I hadn’t thought of that even though I am a librarian myself as well as someone who loves to be outdoors. I will be thinking about this idea now both in relation to Gamache and also myself. This dichotomy plays out in other books in this series too, but I just realized it after reading your comment.

It has been great fun reading all your comments! Like many of you, I found it very hard to see Armand suffer so much in this book. But he is the leader of his homicide squad and he is very much the kind of man who takes his responsibilities very seriously. We suffer with him, but at the same time, we wouldn’t want him any other way. He especially has become so real that we almost look to meet him in person.
Something else I just love about Louise’s books is her wonderful little conversations. Some are absolutely hilarious! Like the one near the beginning of this book when Reine-Marie is leaving to go back home to Montreal, and Armand walks her out to her car. There is such a sweet intimacy in their playfulness that it touches my heart.

Funny you should say this, Sylvia. We live in Montreal and the odd time that we drive through Otremont I always catch myself wondering where Armand and Reine-Marie live.

So, where should one comment/report this? I haven’t found anywhere else to report problems. Just publicity, fb and contact LP.

Is it my imagination or are all my posts gone? They were here when a posted and they were here on July 1…is my computer being weird? My posts were right above Cecile…

okay, now they’re back. I even refreshed and got nothing but since I posted, they’re back! lol just ignore me….

I am truly amazed at all the insightful comments everyone has made regarding “Bury Your Dead”.
The most diverse, (the plots) intriguing and intense read so far in the series!

Why aren’t guys commenting?

Ok people, Please comment on why men don’t read LP books. Or do they? Just putting it out there!

I think they do – I just think they are less likely to participate in discussion groups online, or anywhere else. For them, reading is a more solitary activity, and I think they might not see what more could be gained from discussing the book. Especially in a “formalized” or “organized” setting. But I am willing to bet that lots of men read the books.

I am curious about Enid, Jean Guy’s wife and what happens to her. Also, the warning in the cabin by the “asshole” to Jean Guy about the OxyContin , “perhaps only half” is a red flag. I am finding more of these little details.

I think there is number 7’story line. Art work shows up in each book thus far, this time it is the carvings which hold a special significance.

Hello everyone. Just surfacing from Canada and celebrating our Silver Wedding Anniversary – the same day as Armand and Reine-Marie!! Just makes me even more fond of these characters.

I love the reinvestigation of the old Hermit murder. I always thought the treasure was not investigated enough as a possible link to the murderer. And of course I like that Olivier may stand a chance of innocence, I will wait and see!

And a sixth story line is it(?) – the change in character of Jean-Guy unfolding slowly, after the tragedy that is being revealed. Also the growing bond between Ruth and Jean-Guy, the lovely wounded poet who has so detested.

Love the books, I am so glad I discovered Louise Penny.

While I scanned the first books, I am savoring the reread of this book. One reason is, it takes place in Quebec, a real city and not a village that only exists in the heart. I can imagine eating at the cafe’s Emile and Garmache did and walking those streets. I do plan to take the walking tour when we visit in September. Also, I was so curious about what happened to Garmache that I think I rushed past the other story lines. Now, I am enjoying the historical aspect of the novel and concentrating on Jean Guy’s character and personality as it evolves and will evolve in the subsequent books.

I wish I could like Oliver, I did before but he shows absolutely no remorse for the pain and confusion he has caused others or how his actions show him as a greedy, petty man. But as everyone has said, Louise Penny has masterfully woven all the themes together.

The voice sticking in Garmache’ head is brilliant. How often have I mulled over an unfortunate incident and revisit it over and over again.

I have decided that I need to go back to Still Life and read the series in order. I feel that I have been jumping around and need some order. Love the characters and setting and feel like I would like to visit Three Pines. At the end of July I will be having surgery and spend a three month recovery. This will be the perfect time to read the series and be prepared for the release in late August. I truly hope that this will not be the last but just a new direction for Gamache in Three Pines.


Brilliant idea to spend your recovery with Louise Penny and her books. And, you’ll be glad to read them in order. They’re so beautifully structured, one to follow another. When you get to the ones you’ve already read, I think you’ll enjoy them even more than the first time.

What about Henri? Does anybody else have concerns about Henri going out and about with Gamache with NO winter gear on? We are told in great detail about what Armand is wearing and how bad the winter cold is. But except for occasionally rubbing Henri’s feet once they get inside or Henri alternating lifting his feet to get away from the cold that burns, Armand never appears concerned that Henri has on the exact same ‘outfit’ in the dead of winter that he wears in Three Pines in the summer! I have 2 dachshunds and would never take them for long walks in the bitter winters we have here in upstate NY. Anyone have any insight here? And I am really trying to not anthropomorphise here!!

I really do think it’s only the pads of the feet you need to worry about, and I think they are out short enough times to not make it too much of an issue. Gamache does take care of him well, I think – we don’t always see every bit of it, as it’s not one of the major storylines, hahaha. But I think we can be assured that Armand wouldn’t do anything to hurt Henri. Henri is a German Shepherd breed, which I think is pretty hardy, and their hair is very thick, though short. Don’t worry, just enjoy their games…

Do you think Beauvoir’s cynical view of Three Pines is beginning to change, and if so, how?

I think without Gamache there, JG will be forced to interact more and then to see the people for who and what they are.

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