Review: “The Hangman,” Louise Penny

Pros: Simple mystery
Cons: Not much tension
Rating: 4 out of 5


One of the difficulties of getting a book from the library or getting an e-book copy is that I don’t necessarily know as much about a book going in. For instance, only after I read The Hangman (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Novella) did I find out that it’s meant as a simpler book for people who might have trouble reading. This is the sort of information that I wish was more prominent when buying a book. Both so that someone doesn’t go into the book with a wrong impression, and more importantly because if I had a reading disability or my English wasn’t that great I’d want to know about that aspect of the book!

Now that I do know about that, I need to judge the book a little differently. Since I don’t have difficulty reading it’s tough for me to say whether this novella succeeds in that part of its purpose. I can say, however, that the read felt very quick and simple to me, which means they probably did succeed at what they set out to accomplish.

The mystery itself involves a body found hanged from a tree, and an isolated pool of suspects to grill. The depth of characterization is lacking, but again that makes sense for a deliberately simple story. The mystery was quickly solved, but again, the context makes that okay. The whole thing really comes down to whether you are interested in a short, simple mystery or desire more depth. (And of course, whether you need the lower reading level if you have some difficulty reading English.)

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