Archive for the ‘Louise Penny’ Category

Only Louise Penny (or Armand Gamache) could correlate the death of a Surete Academy professor in Montreal with a map drawn during the first world war that was found in the walls of Gavri and Olivier’s bistro in Three Pines. And it works, to some extent.


While performing renovations on their bistro, Gavri and Olivier uncover, in the walls, a map of Three Pines. It’s not just any map. It’s got a snowman on it. It’s got pyramids that don’t exist. It is extremely detailed and it is determined that it is an Orienteering map, one of the first. (If you don’t what orienteering is, which I did not, read the book or look it up.)

After nearly dying while exposing vast corruption in the Surete, Chief Inspector Gamache has to decide what to do next. Recuperating in Three Pines, though an idyllic location, is not enough to keep Gamache satisfied. He has had several offers but ultimately decides to run the Surete Academy du Quebec. Cadets have been ruthlessly trained to use brawn before brain, producing an overly aggressive, less compassionate, potentially corrupt police force. His goal is to root out corruption and brutality but he surprises everyone by keeping Professor Serge Leduc, a sadistic, manipulative professor and a main cause of these brutal graduates.

When Leduc is found shot to death in his academy rooms and a copy of Three Pines map is found in his night table, shadows are cast on four cadets, as well as Gamache himself. It is up to his protege, Isabelle Lacoste, and his son in law to solve the murder and exonerate his name.

As with all Louise Penny/Armand Gamache books, the remarkable cast of Ruth and her duck, Rosa, Myrna, Clara, Gavri and Olivier, and Gamache’s wife, Reine-Marie, take major roles.  It is their eccentricities that make the book. Gamache comes off as too goody-goody, too ethically superior to everyone else, almost God-like…a bit too much. But the action and the characters propel this novel forward. Also, as with all Armand Gamache books, it is a good read. It is a welcome addition to a fun series.

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I was going to start my review of The Nature of the Beast by by Louse Penny by saying that the plot of the book was TheNatureOfTheBeastsomewhat out there, not quite believable. That is until I read Ms. Penny’s Author’s Note at the end of the book which states that the basics of the book are historically true. So, Ms. Penny has woven an interesting fictional story around a true set of circumstances…which somehow makes it even more unbelievable.

Nine year old Laurent Lapage is the classic ‘boy who cries wolf’. He is constantly running through the idyllic village of Three PInes with the most outrageous stories of monsters and wolves and threats to the village. So when he runs into Olivier and Gabri’s bistro shouting about a huge gun, bigger than a house or a building with monsters all over it, no one believes him. Instead, Armand Gamache drives him home. When his dead body turns up a day later, the town is shocked. The coroner ruled it an accident…Laurent fell off his bike and hit his head. However, Gamache suspects foul play for several reasons and is soon proven right.

As I’ve probably said before, reading an Inspector Gamache story is almost like coming home. Three Pines is an idyllic setting. The characters have become your friends. It is reminiscent of the Martha Grimes Richard Jury series. You enjoy going home and seeing old friends. You truly never want to leave.

A Louise Penny story always has the right combination of town camaraderie as well as town secrets and intrigue. No one is what they appear to be. They have dark interiors. As Gamache mentions, since most Three Pines residents are transplants, does anyone really and truly know anyone else?

For an immensely enjoyable combination of police procedural, small town idiosyncrasies and a well written story, the latest Louise Penny offering, The Nature of the Beast, is my recommendation.

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LongWayHomeFor some reason I think I’ve read a Inspector Gamache mystery before but have no record of it. The Long Way Home got excellent reviews and I thought I’d give it a try. It was well worth the read.

One of the best ways to describe the Gamache mysteries is it is the Canadian version of Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury mysteries with Gamache being Jury and his entourage emulating Jury’s. Instead of the ever present dog in the Jury mysteries, there is a duck in Gamache’s. It is the same type of read, though.

Gamache has retired to the small Canadian town of Three Pines to recoup after a serious case. After walking with his wife and his dog each morning, he sits on a park bench overlooking the valley and reads from a small book…but he never progresses in the book.

Each morning, also, his artist neighbor Clara sits beside him and all the townspeople wonder why because they don’t converse. One day she gets up the nerve to talk to him. It seems slightly over a year ago she and her husband, Peter, also an artist, took a break from each other. They agreed that one year from the date of the breakup they would meet and reevaluate. But Peter hasn’t shown up, which is very unlike him.

This statement and request for assistance ultimately involves Gamache, his wife Reine-Marie, his son-in-law Jean-Guy also a police officer, Clara, and neighbors Ruth and Myrna. It’s interesting because the characters talk about art and muses. They visit the small scenic villages that you picture in Canada and England. The plot takes some unusual and unpredictable twists. With 50 pages left, there’s no violence.

Once I got started, I read the book for the characters, not the plot. Poet Ruth is a blast–sort of like Melrose Plant’s aunt Lady Agatha in the Grimes’ series.

Martha Grimes fans and Louise Penny fans should switch books because if you like one, you’ll surely like the other. A totally enjoyable read.

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