A Trick of the Light

By Louise Penny

“It was one thing to forgive, it was another to climb back into the cage with that bear, even if it was wearing a tutu and smiling.”

Book #7 is more focused on the murder and the psychological complexities of some of the residents of Three Pines, and Jean-Guy: people we care about and will see again. I continue to shake my ahead in disapproval and disbelief at Peter, particularly at what is revealed in the final goodbye between him and Clara. At least Clara has Peter’s number now and hopefully will not be fooled again. I guess we’ll have to wait for another book for Gamache to be “forgiven” by Olivier. (Although he did absolutely nothing wrong and it was all Olivier fault. But if it makes Gamache happy, whatever)
I loved the role and the writing involving Alcoholics Anonymous. Louise really did her research. Not one false note.
The book ends with the reader wanting more. What will happen with Peter and Clara? Will Olivier finally accept responsibility for what happened to him? Will Jean Guy be alright? That final scene with Ruth was beautiful. Will hope be rewarded?
I see I say nothing about the murder and the mystery. The fact that the killer was who he was was very satisfactory to me. The character study of the victim was fascinating. So many shades of black and white in all of Penny’s characters. Except Gamache and his wife. And thank God for it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

November 11, 2018

Bury Your Dead

By Louise Penny

“…while forgetting the past might condemn people to repeat it, remembering it too vividly condemned them to never leave.”

Gamache nodded. “Somehow the mapmakers missed Three Pines.” “Then how do people find it?” “I don’t know. Perhaps it suddenly appears.”

There is a lot going on in this 6th entry in the Inspector Gamache series. We learn that in between this one, Bury your Dead, and The Brutal Telling, the team has been involved in a devastating terrorist attack which has left Gamache and his #2, Beauvoir, wounded in body, mind and spirit. Firstly, this book deals with the beginning of their recovery from the effects. The second part is that Gamache has been nagged by Gabri into some niggling doubts about the guilt of Olivier in the death of the Hermit of book 5. So he sends Jean Guy Beauvoir to Three Pines to secretly re-investigate the murder. The 3rd concern in this book is the murder of Augustin Renaud who is obsessed with finding the famously lost grave of the Québécois and Canadian 16th century hero, Samuel de Champlain. This was an excellent book, which so far I have found all of Louise Penny’s to be. But I didn’t love it.


It was just so sad. A promising character introduced in the previous book is dead. The attack that killed him and Gamache’s mission to save eastern Canada and the United States from devastation is re-lived through the book. We know that he was successful in one and unsuccessful in saving Morin, our guy, from the very beginning. And we learn to love and be very invested in Morin and his hopes and dreams as we read. Penny pulls out all of the stops to make sure we do. But we know he dies in the end. So no. Not my cup of tea. In fact, looking back, I think it was a little manipulative.

It dragged some in the middle. The Champlain parts and the exploration of the history and culture of Quebec were interesting and educational. But let’s face it, it was not exactly white knuckle or thought provoking reading.

Both the murder and the murderer of the fanatical archaeologist were not believable. The motive was very very weak. There was just very little reason for it. Unless I missed it, the perpetrator didn’t seem to have mindset or cause to do such a thing. I just didn’t believe it at all. It did not fall with Gamache’s oft repeated lessons on the deep seated reasons why people are driven to murder.

On the other hand, Beauvoir’s investigation into the murder of the Hermit was intriguing and involving. Good for him for solving this most difficult of conundrums on his own. The solution was shocking but made perfect sense. The clues were there, especially with the benefit of hindsight. I enjoyed how it all fit together with the previous book. The only thing is, I hated who the murderer was! I was appalled and heartbroken. What a tragedy.

Last but not least. I can’t stand that horrible Olivier who was freed from prison at the end of the book. He is a terrible person. And everyone loves him. I don’t get it. He had only himself to blame for being mistakenly convicted of murdering the Hermit. Stupid, greedy, ugly choices and actions. And Lies. The constant lies. In The Brutal Telling, after being lied to over and over Gamache begs him for the truth so he can help him. Olivier finally seems to realize it’s the end of the line and swears that this time he is telling the truth. What do we get? More lies. If he had finally told the whole truth after squandering chance after chance, Gamache would have looked elsewhere and the real murderer might have been discovered in the first book. And Then! And THEN! Gamache APOLOGIZES to him for having arrested him to begin with! After reopening an investigation that was over and done with it and saving Olivier’s life, Olivier has the gall to declare in front of everyone that he can’t forgive him yet, but maybe in time. Maybe. WHAT? And our buddies in Three Pines just go along with this mess. He gets a hero’s welcome from them when he should be given the cold shoulder and a punch in the nose. 

**End Spoiler**

So yes, all of the great things I love about Louise Penny were there: humor, deep interesting character development, a good puzzle, etc. etc. But there were too many disturbing turns to knock this down to 3 stars for me, when it is one of the very highest rated of her books from other readers.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

July 17, 2018

The Brutal Telling

by Louise Penny

“But odd as his family might be, they were nothing compared to this. In fact, that was one of the great comforts of his job. At least his family compared well to people who actually killed each other, rather than just thought about it.”

**Major Spoilers**

Long before I started reading Louise Penny, but read about her and was interested, I read a book review which expressed dismay that the murder was a beloved member of the community. From the first book I read in the series, I had assumed that the murderer was going to be Peter, and this book the reviewer was talking about was going to be a good bit down the road. So my reading has been colored by this assumption. I’m glad that is behind me now.
I was relieved that this is kind of a part one of a two part duo, because I was vaguely dissatisfied that Olivier still maintained his innocence at the end. There were also some things left hanging and some unanswered questions. On finishing this entry in the series, I really despise Olivier for his lies and greed and stupidity. I don’t care whether he is a murderer or not. If he proves not to be, I hope he isn’t accepted back as a beloved friend to all. In a way, this 5 star rating is contingent on how things play out in Bury Your Dead.

Questions and quibbles: Totally unbelievable that a prominent member of an Artistic community would feel such homophobia, let alone display it.
Why didn’t Olivier take even some of the treasures after he murdered the Hermit, or came back to find him dead? He could have found a hiding place.
Once the hermit was dead why did he still dump the body at the Hadley place? Why the hate? Why the risk? The jig was up at that point. That’s why Gabri says he didn’t do it. He couldn’t have advertised the murder if he had done it. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

July 2, 2018

A Rule Against Murder

By Louise Penny

He expected people to play fair. Rules meant order. Without them they’d be killing each other. It began with butting in, with parking in disabled spaces, with smoking in elevators. And it ended in murder.

The murder of one of the Morrow family provides what is really just a mcguffin in the novel, whose main focus is the absolutely fascinating portrayal of a family as dysfunctional as one can possibly be. And one whose members are not what they appear to be on the surface. Yet the whys and wherefores don’t really hold up 100% under scrutiny.

We find out more about Peter Morrow and are given hope that his disintegration into his dark place may be stopped or at least slowed. I wonder how much Clara understands what lies beneath Peter’s benign surface. She may not be as clueless as she is portrayed. Hopefully we will understand even more by the end of the next installment in the series. We learn more about Armand’s backstory. I hope we will learn more about Reine-Marie in future books.

The murder story itself is a mixed bag. It was very disconnected from the rest of the novel in the end due to who the murderer turned out to be. The “how” is diabolical and clever. The “why” was very weak and the method chosen didn’t make a lick of sense. (Unless I am missing something.)

**3.5 stars, round up to 4 because of the contribution this novel makes to giving insights into the recurring characters as a whole.***I wonder, since this is Peter’s family, if we will be seeing any one them again in future books. That would be interesting.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

June 8, 2018

The Cruelest Month

By Louise Penny

Three craggy pine trees had stood at the far end of the green for as long as anyone remembered, like wise men who’d found what they were looking for.

In her metaphors, gentle humor, character development, and well constructed puzzles, Louise Penny is a gifted writer. I can see why many readers feel the need to re-read the Inspector Gamache novels. Knowing what I know now, after finishing just the third in the series, I know I would get a lot of pleasure in reading her descriptions of certain events and people from my new perspective. Things that peaked my curiosity and that I puzzled over before now make sense. I feel pleased that I suspected the truth revealed in the final chapters concerning one of the characters.

The danger of jealousy permeates every corner of this novel: The murder mystery at hand that our hero is investigating, the running plot of Gamache’s enemies and their attempts to destroy him, and more than one subplot concerning secondary characters. One aspect of the overarching conspiracy against Gamache is brought to a partial conclusion in this third installment. Yet, though we fear for Gamache and hope against injustice, we know that in the final analysis, he will be fine because of his safe and happy home and family life. I appreciate the haven this gives me, as a reader, in looking forward to continuing on with Gamache’s saga. His family does come under attack in this one and presumably comes out the other side. We are not really given any closure as to his son and daughter, but only surmise. We will surely be provided the much desired loose end tying in the 4th novel.

Slowly simmering trouble on the horizon for one well-liked character continues to lurk. This character has a triumph, and for less than a minute, we hope that the trouble has passed, only to be thrust back into dread for her. Ms Penny, with her wisdom and insight, will make it an interesting journey.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

April 29, 2018

A Fatal Grace

by Louise Penny

‘The names of her gurus,’ said Clara between sobs. Myrna was no longer sure whether she was crying or laughing. ‘Krishnamurti Das, Ravi Shankar Das, Gandhi Das. Ramen Das. Khalil Das. Gibran Das. They even call her CC Das.’ By now Clara was roaring with laughter as were most of the others. Most. But not all. ‘I see nothing wrong with that,’ said Olivier, wiping his eyes. ‘Gabri and I follow the way of Häagen Das. It’s occasionally a rocky road.’

Oh my Goodness. I was set to give this book another 4-star rating like the first one, but the final pages really put it over the top. Quelle surprise! We also have some twists and turns and more information in the overarching drama of the Arnot affair and the danger Gamache is in, career-wise. I read a review of this series from someone who binge read this series and now is full of regret for reading them too quickly. I understand the hankering to do that. But I will learn from the mistakes of others and take a small break before going on to the third book. I have to fight really hard not to do what I often do and read all the information I can on a whole series I become really immersed in, almost obsessed with, before I finish it.

Another great thing. I read her acknowledgments, which I often don’t read, and was so delighted that she wrote of her appreciation for Anne Perry, who was kind enough to read her first book before it was published and gave her encouragement. Anne Perry is my favorite mystery writer who I have been reading for almost 40 years and one to whom I am very loyal. I hope I will feel the same way about Louise Penny in 40 years.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

February 26, 2018

Still Life

by Louise Penny

“There are four things that lead to wisdom. You ready for them?’
She nodded, wondering when the police work would begin.
“They are four sentences we learn to say, and mean.” Gamache held up his hand as a fist and raised a finger with each point. “I don’t know. I need help. I’m sorry. I was wrong

Excellent Mystery full of pathos, wisdom, and gentle humor. Many times, I had to pause to reflect on some of the thought provoking passages, descriptions, and observations. I came to strongly suspect who the actual murderer was a little less than half way through the novel. I was sorry that Yvette did not get straightened out and come to a self-realization by the end of the book. Her story was pretty much left to dangle. I trust that things will develop more positively with her as the books go on. Other than that, the mystery was resolved and explained in depth. My suspicions were confirmed on a few plot points which made me feel smart. That’s always a good thing! Justice was served. Definitely will be continuing with the next one soon. I hope to meet the characters again and to see that some damage has been repaired. Louise Penny is a wonderful writer. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

February 5, 2018