It doesn't matter what century he hails from, Dumas writes a cracking good tale. His four musketeers are delightful, funny, and quirky. The plot bowls along and keeps you involved right up to the last minute. I think the thing that surprised me most about this book is the fact that no adaptation of it that I have seen (and I have seen many!) really stayed faithful to the plot all the way to the end. The same is true, of course, for the Count of Monte Cristo, and I am sure it is because in both cases the hero does not end up with the heroine, at least, not the one we are expecting! But Dumas has such cinematic pacing that it hardly matters! We are swept along with the heroes and love every minute. Simon Vance is the king of narrators ~ he's just a master ~ and you will love the whole experience, I promise.
I've enjoyed the opportunity to experience Louise Penny's growth as an author with the Three Pines mysteries. Each book in this series gets better, and this one is a small masterpiece of construction, characterization and plot. I was completely entranced. Penny shows us the (for most of us) unfamiliar culture of Quebec, while also delving deeper into the central personalities that inhabit each of these novels. Armand Gamache is one of those rare characters that we want to spend time with, and he is complemented by his temperamental second-in-command. Unlike the other books in the series, (which are really cozy mysteries in the classic style) this one surprises with its violent, dramatic climax, told in a series of wrenching flashbacks. Mystery novels don't get much better than this!
The reader is wonderful too.
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