“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen.
This month Louise Penny’s ninth novel featuring Chief Inspector Gamache debuted in the number one spot on the New York Times Bestseller List. “How The Light Gets In” continues the ongoing saga of Gamache of the Sûreté Quebec, which began with 2005’s “Still Life.” Fans of the series will already be familiar with Penny’s memorable characters and endearing settings, but for those newbies out there, why don’t we do a quick round-up on the series so far?
In “Still Life” we are introduced to Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Quebec Sûreté and his two assistants, Beauvoir and Nichol. They are called to the small peaceful village of Three Pines to investigate the death of a local artist who was seemingly killed accidentally on Thanksgiving weekend by a stray hunter’s arrow. If you enjoyed the people of Three Pines, don’t worry: this isn’t the last you’ll see of them.
In “A Fatal Grace” Armand returns to Three Pines, the same rural community where “Still Life” took place. This time, he’s investigating the death of a woman who was electrocuted on a frozen lake during the town’s curling tournament. The victim had many enemies, and as the story deepens, not everything is as it seems. Maybe this Three Pines place isn’t as peaceful and nice as everyone says it is?
Three Pines certainly has had its share of misfortune. In “The Cruelest Month,” Inspector Gamache gets called in once again, but this time he is investigating the remains of a séance where it seems as if someone was frightened to death. I’m starting to have second thoughts about this place…
Well it seems Inspector Gamache is finally getting a break in “The Murder Stone.” It’s his anniversary and he and his wife are spending it at a lovely bed and breakfast manor house in the country. BUT WAIT! That manor house is located just outside (you guessed it!) Three Pines, and guess what? Yep. Someone is murdered there, and Gamache cannot even enjoy one weekend off. Maybe he should have come to Winnipeg for his anniversary instead?
It doesn’t seem like Gamache is even surprised anymore when he gets the call that someone’s been murdered in Three Pines at the beginning of “The Brutal Telling.” This time, an elderly man has been bludgeoned in the only café. I’m not going to tell the good people of Three Pines how to live their lives, but maybe they may want to consider deadbolts and security systems on their homes. Just sayin’.
Maybe the residents of Three Pines took my advice, because the next novel, “Bury Your Dead” takes place in Quebec City. Gamache is on vacation with his wife, but when someone is murdered in the City’s Literary and Historical Society Library the death takes Gamache down a complicated and harrowing road where he second guesses his case-work from the previous novel, “The Brutal Telling.” Thought by many to be the best one in the series, “Bury Your Dead” is definitely Penny’s most ambitious novel so far, and shows her real skill with character development and plotting.
It’s almost comforting to know the murderous but peaceful people of Three Pines are back to their old tricks when the childhood friend of a local artist is murdered, and that artist is pegged as the chief suspect in “A Trick of the Light.” Just a thought: maybe Inspector Gamache would save some gas money if he rented an apartment in Three Pines?
A clear departure from the series, Gamache and his assistant Beauvoir are called to a secluded monastery LOCATED IN THREE PINES (no, it’s not. just kidding), to investigate the murder of the choirmaster in “The Beautiful Mystery.” One of the remaining 23 monks is the killer, but to solve this murder, Gamache and Beauvoir have to spend time in this remote place and come to terms with their own personal demons. Described by many as the darkest of the series, I am sure the people of Three Pines are breathing a sigh of relief that nothing bad happened in their village…….OR DID IT?
Which brings us to the newest novel, “How The Light Gets In.” Gamache’s work life is looking pretty bleak, so when a call to come down to his favourite haunt, Three Pines, results in a missing person’s case, he jumps at the chance. Back on familiar ground, Gamache’s world is changing and he is forced to deal with a number of personal and professional issues that were introduced in the previous stories. Early reviews are calling this one “the best one yet”.