Recap (from Chapter 26 to the End)
Clara talks to Myrna about her incident with Fortin, and Myrna says she would have done nothing as well. Clara decides to talk with Gabri. Olivier says he didn’t kill the Hermit, but confesses that he found the Hermit dead in the cabin and moved the body to the Hadley house for Marc Gilbert to find. Gamache makes a trip to the cabin to look around before it’s cleaned out, and ponders who might have had motive to kill The Hermit. Vincent or Marc Gilbert, Roar or Havoc Parra. A casual look around the cabin reveals that several items all have one name in common, Charlotte.
Olivier attempts to talk to Gabri, but Gabri continues working on his preserves. Clara asks Peter what to do about Fortin, and Peter is slow to offer any advice. The next morning he tells Clara to speak to Fortin. Clara confronts Fortin, and just as Peter suspected he would, Fortin tells Clara he needs to reconsider her show.
Gamache gets help trying to decipher the codes on the bottom of The Hermit’s carvings and learns that several have been sold and are worth enough money to be a possible motive for murder. Once again, Olivier lied about what he did with the carvings The Hermit gave him. The word Woo and the prevalence of the name Charlotte lead Gamache to think of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Emily Carr spent time on the Queen Charlotte Islands painting and documenting totem polls, with carvings very similar to the carvings done by The Hermit. While speaking of Emily Carr, Clara mentions the concept of “the brutal telling.” Carr was estranged from her father, and later in life she said it was because her father had said something horrible and unforgivable to her. The brutal telling.
Garbi makes a trip up to the Hadley house to talk to the Gilberts. The visit doesn’t go well. Tensions are high as the group argues. Gabri explains how people come to Three Pines and find their niche, rather than moving in on someone else’s. He tries to apologize for Olivier’s actions. In an empty bistro, Gamache questions Olivier again about The Hermit and the carvings. Olivier admits to selling them online.
Gamache takes a trip to Queen Charlotte Island to see if that’s where The Hermit had come from. No one on the island knows him. Gamache strikes out, but a famous artist, Will Sommes, tells Gamache that the person who made the carvings was terrified. As he learns more about the island’s history, Gamache is certain that The Hermit spent time on the island, but no one can verify it for sure. It’s on the flight home that Gamache realizes how the carvings fit together.
Back in the Bistro, Gabri learns that Olivier has never told his father he is gay. When questioned about the order of the carvings, Olivier claims he doesn’t know the story they’re trying to tell. In a rare moment of frustration, Gamache pounds on the table and demands the truth. With more pushing, Olivier tells them that the Hermit’s name was Jakob, but Gamache doesn’t know much more about him. The Hermit came from Czechoslovakia just as the Berlin Wall fell, stored his treasures in Montreal, and moved them to the cabin once it was built. Olivier says that The Hermit was telling him the story of the carvings, but never finished the story, and Olivier has never seen the final carving.
As the officers meets at the B & B, they ponder the story the carvings are trying to tell, and The Hermit’s possible connections to the Czech community in Three Pines. Though they’ve asked many Czech families about the treasures found in the cabin, they’ve had no leads. Another trip to the Parras doesn’t turn up anything new. A search team tears apart the Bistro, and hidden in the fireplace is a sack and a Menorah, the murder weapon.
Olivier swears he didn’t kill Jakob. He spent time with Jakob, and had to go back when he realized he left the artifact he was given. When he returned, Jakob was dead. Olivier took the Menorah because it had his fingerprints all over it, and admitted that part of the reason he moved the body to the Hadley house was to stop the clearing of trails that would eventually lead to the cabin. Olivier took the Menorah and the sack with the last carving, and hid them in the fireplace of the bistro. Another revelation lets us know that Olivier was the one telling the story to Jakob. Olivier knew Jakob was afraid of something, so he made up a story to keep Jakob scared and isolated. Despite claiming that he didn’t kill Jakob, Olivier is arrested for the murder.
The key to the codes on the bottom of the carvings is the number 16. With the code, Gamache was able to learn that the words under them were Emily and Charlotte. Cracking the codes still doesn’t offer any insight into their meaning.
Vincent Gilbert decides to stay in Three Pines and live in Jakob’s cabin, Clara is contacted by Therese Brunel, and has hope that her art show might still happen. Gamache is confronted by Gabri again, trying to explain that Olivier couldn’t have murdered Jakob. As the book closes, we see Ruth’s duck Rosa take to the sky and fly away. Gabri is with Ruth to comfort her as they watch the duck go.
Bury Your Dead was the first book release I experienced at Murder By The Book, and every customer wanted to know if Louise was going to fix what she did in The Brutal Telling. I think that’s a beautiful testament to the world that she created. The citizens of Three Pines have become like family to us all, and with The Brutal Telling we learn some things about our family that we really didn’t want to know. There’s no way to fix it. A Rule Against Murder changed the series because we were taken out of Three Pines, but The Brutal Telling changes the series because it changes Three Pines.
We’re left in a place of transition. Olivier is in jail, Gabri is still convinced he didn’t do it, and even Ruth’s pet duck has left.
It seems dire, but I think Louise left us with some hope. I love the tender moment between Ruth and Gabri as Rosa takes flight. We see hope is Gamache’s patience with Gabri, and we’re left with some hope that Clara might still have her art show.
When I think of this book, the image in my head is always of Gabri and his preserves. Louise so perfectly captures that need to complete some task in order to have some control in the chaos. Part of the beauty of the series is the way Louise just nails those very human moments.
“Every surface of the kitchen was packed with colorful jars filled with jams and jellies, pickles and chutneys. And it looked as though Gabri would keep this up forever. Silently preserving everything he could.”
1. Do you think Peter was purposely trying to sabotage Clara with his advice?
2. We see Gamache get visibly angry with Olivier, and he’s usually so collected. How did it make you feel? Why do you think Gamache lost his cool?
3. How have the events of The Brutal Telling changed your opinion of Olivier? Do you think he did it? (Remember, no spoilers from Bury Your Dead.)
4. What do you think was Olivier’s brutal telling? Do you think any of his lies were unforgivable in the eyes of Three Pines? Was Peter’s advice to Clara about the art show a brutal telling?
5. Gamache says that he doesn’t believe Olivier is a murderer, but that he does believe Olivier has killed. Do you agree with his distinction?