Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Fiction Review: A Better Man

My final audiobook for the #BigBookSummer Challenge was A Better Man by Louise Penny. Since I finished it at the end of the challenge in September, it was a cross-over book and also counts as my first book for the fall R.I.P. Challenge #RIPxvi (which includes darker stuff like mysteries, thrillers, etc.). It was a somewhat odd choice for me because it is #15 in the Inspector Gamache series ... and I had only previously read the first book, Still Life! Regardless of the gap, I thoroughly enjoyed this twisty mystery and had no trouble jumping right into the story.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is faced with a double problem: rivers in the region are about to overflow their banks in catastrophic flooding at the same time that a woman is reported missing. All of the considerable forces of the Sûreté (plus other departments like engineering and the Mounties) are entirely focused on how to prevent the worst damage to local homes and businesses: do they open the dams, wait for them to open on their own, try to divert some water, etc.? The missing woman, an abused wife who is pregnant, is a family friend of one of the Sûreté officers, and her disappearance is gnawing at Gamache. He leads his own investigation to hopefully find her safe before her angry husband finds her or the floods harm her. As usual, the rural town of Three Pines is woven into the plot, along with its quirky townspeople. Apparently, Gamache and his wife moved there at some point in the last 14 books! The flooding would directly impact Three Pines, and the rural area the woman disappeared from is nearby. Can Gamache and his team find the missing woman before tragedy hits? And how catastrophic will the flooding be? This time, they must solve an intricate mystery in the middle of a natural disaster.

I was fully immersed in this suspenseful story right from the first chapters! Even though I had missed 14 books in between, the author did a good job of catching me up, without piling on unnecessary information. It's probably better to read the series in order so you understand all the nuances, but it is possible to jump in, like I did. Robert Bathurst did an excellent job narrating the audio, making me feel like I was right in the middle of the story. As usual, Penny is an outstanding writer who makes you care about the characters: the main characters and the supporting ones, too. It's a gripping mystery, with plenty of twists; I guessed the ending/culprit at least a half dozen times (and was wrong every time!) before the answers were finally revealed. This unpredictable, suspenseful mystery set in Quebec kept me riveted to my iPod and was a great start to the R.I.P. challenge!

464 pages, Minotaur Books

Macmillan Audio

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, where you can hear the narrator and the author's sense of humor, and/or download it from Audible.


You can buy the book through Bookshop.org, where your purchase will support the indie bookstore of your choice (or all indie bookstores)--the convenience of shopping online while still buying local!


Or you can order A Better Man from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. I really need to read more Louise Penny books since I've only read the first one in the series. I really enjoyed it, though.

    1. That was me, until this one! I just requested the next one, her latest for review today!

  2. Absolutely loved this book, and I have read most (if not all) in the series. I enjoyed the setting and I never grow tired of the characters.

    Glad you liked it. Happy R.I.P.!