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Louise Penny: A virtual Tour

Welcome to the Bury Your Dead mini tour of Québec City.

As Québec City shivers in the grip of winter, its ancient stone walls cracking in the cold, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache plunges into the most unusual case of his celebrated career. A man has been brutally murdered in one of the city’s oldest buildings—a library where the English citizens of Québec safeguard their history. And the death opens a door into the past, exposing a mystery that has lain dormant for centuries…a mystery Gamache must solve if he’s to apprehend a present-day killer.”

Hi, my name is Alex, and I’ll be your tour guide for the remained of this post.

Louise Penny

Bury Your Dead, Louise Penny‘s six book in her Gamache series is set here in Québec City, in the dead of winter. Which, I might add, are several months long and reach temperatures even your long johns are not prepared for! But I digress.

The book opens with Gamache thinking deeply about the terrible events of a raid gone wrong, as he sits across from his former mentor, Émile Comeau. They’re in a small cafe eating croissants. In the book the cafe is called Chez Temporal, on the rue Couillard. But in real life, it’s Le Petit Coin Latin on the rue Sainte-Ursule. And to prove its authenticity as the place Penny was writing about, proudly displays a poster of the author in the entrance. [Note: click on the images for full size.]

As it so happens, this lovely little vibrant cafe is just a couple of streets over from the Morrin Centre—that houses the English Literary and Historical society—and the location of not only of a murder, which becomes the focus of the story, but also where Gamache has been spending some of his time reading and recuperating. He’s been pondering one of Québec City’s real-life mysteries: where the body of Samuel de Champlain—the founding Father of Québec—might be buried [side note: no one knows].

Of course, anyone who has read the book knows, Gamache manages to solve one mystery but not the one he would like too. And while a murder and a mystery appear to be the main premise of Bury Your Dead, I’d like to think they are both secondary to what Gamache is going through. And the way Penny puts Gamache in the dead of winter, removed from Montreal, his wife, colleagues and friends, to explore the depths of the man’s grief and loss, and second-guessing his decisions that have resulted in the death of a number of men and women under his command.

This is an exploration into the heart and soul of the man, more than any other book Penny has written in the series. And, for that alone, never mind being set here, in QC, it’s my favourite. Poignant, heartbreak, and enlightening, Penny really is a master storyteller.

Should you ever make it up here to Québec City for a visit, you can also take the ‘official’ Bury Your Dead walking tour, which also showcases the Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica and where General Montcalm died after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Personally, I would take you to see where General James Wolfe fell, and was buried. But that’s a whole other post for another day.

And that, dear reader, concludes this virtual tour and blog post. I hope you enjoyed seeing a little bit of Québec City.

10 Comments

  1. What a lovely idea, Alex! And a great post, too. I’m so glad you like Louise Penny’s work as much as you do. I think she’s incredibly talented, and her stories really do have such a sense of place and context, don’t they?

    • Alex says

      Margot, my post was inspired by a post Sandra at, A Corner of Cornwall, wrote about reading a book in the place it’s set, and also, by the great love many blogger/book reviewers have for Louise Penny and the Gamache series.

      And, as the first book I ever read in her series was, in fact, book six, set here, how could I not write a post honouring such, and fall in love with her books? 😀

  2. Wonderful! I can’t wait to get to know the good Inspector – though it will be a while before I reach book 6. I have always wanted to visit Quebec. That cafe looks so inviting!

    🙂

    • Alex says

      Indeed, Sandra, I do hope you enjoy the journey as much as I have. Her characters evolve through each book, and meet so many challenges that affect us all. And Penny writes with such depth you know she knows what she’s talking about.

      Oh, I do hope you come and visit QC. It’s a hidden gem up here, in the Frozen North. And that little cafe is, indeed, a delightful place to eat.

      • Who knows, it may come to pass, Alex. We never know what life holds in store for us do we!

        • La Blonde says

          Oh, that would be delightful, as this really is a lovely place to visit, Sandra. And no, we never know what life has in store for us.

  3. I loved the inside scoop via a virtual tour and having you as a guide. You gave me a wonderful POV into Louise Penny’s latest book. A brilliant post, Alexandra!

    • La Blonde says

      Why, thank you, Kenny. I’m glad to know you enjoyed my little mini tour of QC, and quick rundown of the book.

  4. I’d love to visit Quebec someday. I totally enjoyed seeing a little bit of Québec City via your virtual tour. Thanks, Alex.

    Always a pleasure to swing by!

    • Alex says

      Thank you, Veronica. I hope you get the chance, one day, to come visit. Just make sure it’s not in February! ☺️

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