Quebec's Louise Penny 'thrilled' by 4th Agatha Award

Quebec mystery writer Louise Penny has captured an Agatha Award for a fourth year in a row for best mystery novel, Bury Your Dead.

6th book in Insp. Gamache series captures best mystery novel in U.S.

Quebec mystery writer Louise Penny has captured an Agatha Award for a fourth year in a row for best mystery novel, Bury Your Dead.

Penny, known for her series featuring charming francophone homicide detective Insp. Armand Gamache, lives south of Montreal and was handed the prize Saturday night in Washington, D.C.
Bury Your Dead has also been nominated for Canada's Arthur Ellis Award, to be handed out June 2.

"I am so thrilled," Penny wrote in her blog. "And so deeply grateful to not only the readers, of course — but my fellow writers, for being so understanding and so generous."

The awards are given to materials first published in the United States by a living author and honour what is called a "traditional mystery," best typified by the works of Agatha Christie. The books must not contain explicit sex or gratuitous violence.

Bury Your Dead is the sixth book in the Gamache series and is also up for the Canadian mystery writing trophy, the Arthur Ellis Award, to be handed out June 2 in Victoria:

Her previous Agatha wins included:

  • 2009 for A Brutal Telling.
  • 2008 for The Cruelest Month.
  • 2007 for Dead Cold.

In her latest Gamache novel, her normally steadfast inspector is holed up with an old friend in Quebec City, haunted by events from his past. Gamache is emotionally damaged.

"Gamache in Bury Your Dead is certainly tortured, but he’s struggling to get back to the light," Penny said in a CBC interview last year. "He’s a man with equilibrium, through the rest of the series. Bad things happen and he feels them deeply, but he can get back to centre."

Penny, who had once worked for the CBC before leaving to write her mystery novels, burst onto the mystery scene with her first Insp. Gamache book, Still Life, in 2005.

The debut novel garnered several prizes including the New Blood Dagger award in the United Kingdom and the Arthur Ellis Award in Canada for best first crime novel.