This is one of my favourite groups of detectives and Penny is consistently good as a crime writer, but this story gets a bit wild when it charges into international thriller territory.

8-25 BeastLaurent is a kid with a big imagination and a reputation for tall tales. When he tells people he found a gun as big as a building with a monster on it, in the forest near the village of Three Pines, no one believes him.

Not even retired chief inspector Armand Gamache, who is trying to enjoy some quiet time after a bruising final case. But when the first body is discovered, Gamache begins to suspect the boy was telling a very dangerous truth.

The story of the monstrous gun has a history – a near-mythological tale of a scientific genius and a horrific military invention that had been whispered about for decades. Trying to get to the truth of its purpose and possibilities nearly drowns the police in politics, lies and secrets.

The multi-award-winning Penny draws on surprising, real Canadian history in this tale of a mysterious, massive piece of military equipment.

As usual, the strength of her storytelling is in the police work, the tight-knit group of officers and locals who surround Gamache and the village of Three Pines.

But, for me, when she charges into international thriller territory, it stretches the bounds a bit. This is the 11th in the Gamache series, and it remains highly entertaining.

This review was first published in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine. The book was published in September 2015

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