Archive for the ‘Still Life’ Category

I’m sort of all over the place with the Inspector Gamache series.HowTheLightGetsIn Back in 2011 I read The Fatal Grace which is the second book in the series. Then last year I read The Long Way Home which is the last book in the series (so far) and now I’ve read How the Light Gets In which preceded The Long Way Home. Why? Because The Long Way Home refers back to its predecessor, so I thought it would answer all my questions. Well, it answered many of them, but there’s still some history I don’t know. So, if you’re going to attempt an Inspector Gamache book, I’d start from the beginning, Still Life. How the Light Gets In is totally enjoyable, but a little backstory would have helped.

The story starts with Audrey Villeneuve driving into Montreal from the suburbs but nervous about driving through the Ville-Marie Tunnel. In Chapter Two, Constance Pineault is visiting her friend and former therapist, Myrna, in the idyllic little town of Three Pines. (For the uninitiated, Myrna is a regular in this series–the bookstore owner in Three Pines.) Chapter Three outlines the decimation of Gamache’s Homicide Squad (one of the best in the country) by his superiors (a result of actions taken in a previous book). He fears there is something untoward occurring in the Surete but has no idea what it is or evidence to back up his hunch. Many of his superiors think he’s crazy and many of his staff have readily deserted him.

Soon, both Audrey and Constance are dead, the former an apparent suicide and the latter violently murdered. Gamache is leading both cases while still searching for proof of illegal activity within the Surete. In the murder investigations he has his only departmental ally, Inspector Isabelle Lacoste. In his search of the Surete, he has banded together an unlikely group.

That’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot, except for the fact I found it a little far-fetched. However, How the Light Gets In is still an absorbing read. I did not want to put it down. Louise Penny is a master at describing people and actions and emotion. She has created the idyllic town of Three Pines. It’s where I want to retire. It’s got a B&B, a bookstore, a bistro, a little town square and a group of people who will friend you until the end. It’s in a beautiful valley with three tall pine trees in the center of town and mountains of pines visible out the windows. I can visualize it and couldn’t fathom a more beautiful place.

The characters are wonderful and quirky. Ruth, a poet with a pet duck, Rosa. Clara the artist. Myrna the bookstore owner, Gabri and Olivier, the B&B and bistro owners, and of course, Henri, Gamache’s dog.. Everyone knows everyone and tolerates everyone’s idiosyncrasies.

The action is more cerebral than physical, which I like. It’s the thought processes and character interaction that intrigue me.

OldWineShadeThe author closest to Louise Penny that comes to mind is Martha Grimes and her Chief Inspector Richard Jury series. Her Long Piddleton is England’s equivalent of Canada’s Three Pines. And Sergeant Wiggins, Lord Melrose Plant, Aunt Agatha, Marshall Trueblood, Diane DeMorney, Vivian Rivington and Theo Wrenn Browne are the oddball cast of characters. In the Richard Jury series, he always befriends dogs and children. And while his cast of characters is somewhat more comic, the homey feeling you get while reading the books is quite similar to the Inspector Gamache series.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I highly recommend both the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny and the Chief Inspector Richard Jury series by Martha Grime.

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