Other than that off-putting aspect, it is a good read, with a compelling mystery, mesmerizing side issues, personal failings, interpersonal and interdepartmental sniping and, as always, the citizens and village of Three Pines.
Armand Gamache, in a new and much reduced position at the Surete, now has Jean-Guy Beauvoir as his boss. Tricky but Gamache, with his usual savoir faire and kindness, makes it work. The tale opens with the start of a spring storm which, on the heels of an unexpected ice thaw, could turn deadly. Three Pines is at risk, as are many communities, as are the hydro dams upriver. As is usual with politicians, making quick decisions is pathetic (why do we elect these people?) and ultimately an inconclusive daisy-chain of pass-the-buck. Gamache, typically, sees things clearly and is willing to act if necessary.
The same attitude applies to the other strand of the story, the disappearance of a young woman whose marriage has a history of abuse and who has now disappeared. Her husband is a lout and greets the police pitchfork in hand. He's the perfect villain but is he the villain? The young woman is never shown as a full character, unfortunately, but the investigation and its startling solution is.
Some books in some series can be read as stand-alones. I don't think this is one of them. The novels flow from one to the next, with milestone happenings in each. To miss the entire experience would be a book-reader's tragedy. I've rated many of this series as fives. Not this one, it's a four. I hope this fine author can resist the call to excessive profanity. It doesn't make a book more modern, in my view it makes it cheaper.