AUTHOR: LOUISE PENNY
Details: no. 9 Chief Inspector Armand Gamache
Received from Sphere
“Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”
"Anthem", Leonard Cohen
"Service, Integrity, Justice."
It is the motto of the Sûreté de Québec, although these days it seems to be forgotten by almost everybody working for this police force. Almost everybody only though, because for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache it is as true today as it was the day he started his career. But Gamache finds himself nearly alone these days. His hand-picked team has been dismantled around his ears by those higher up and replaced by officers determined to undermine all his efforts to provide a good service.
It is the weeks before Christmas when Gamache is asked to travel to the village of Three Pines to investigate the disappearance of woman. When the woman is found she is dead, murdered. But that isn’t the only mystery surrounding her. This woman turns out to be not quite who she appeared to be. She is one of the most famous Canadians to have ever lived and now it is up to Gamache and his skeleton team to uncover not only the mystery surrounding her death but also the one that was her life.
But bigger and far more devastating forces are at work. Plots, devised decades ago are about to come to fruition, and although Gamache knows who some of his opponents are, he has no idea what there ultimate goal is and how high up the chain the corruption has risen.
By the time all mysteries are solved and all the secrets revealed it may well be too late for Gamache, the few people still loyal to him and the entire village of Three Pines.
I fell in love with Louise Penny’s books over five years ago when I first discovered her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels and since then that affection has been growing deeper and deeper. This woman writes complex mysteries, populated with realistic and intriguing characters. She has given her readers the village of Three Pines. A village not to be found on any map; a place where modern technology doesn’t work; a community that would appear fairy-tale-like if it wasn’t for the people who live there. Kind and mean, honest and dishonest, likeable and disagreeable, happy and sad, secretive…; the people living in Three Pines are as multi-facetted as you and me. And, after nine books, they are as real to me as you and I are.
And then there is Armand Gamache. An honourable man who firmly believes that justice is an achievable goal. A police officer who hasn’t become cynical, after decades of service, and still believes that given half a chance most people will choose to do the right thing. A man who would rather sacrifice himself than expose those he loves to danger. Gamache is a man who knows that “Service, Integrity and Justice” and above all love, are the forces that rule his life and his actions, even when all around him appear to have left those values far behind.
It is very hard to say anything beyond what I wrote above about this story without giving the plot away. What I can say though is that this book will provide answers to questions that have been lingering in these books ever since the very first one “Still Life” was published. This book will explain why Gamache is so hated by his superiors, despite – or maybe because of – the quality of his work and his deep rooted integrity. Questions that were asked books ago, only to be apparently forgotten, get their answers in this story in such a satisfying and conclusive way that part of me is afraid that this may be the last Gamache story. (Please let me be wrong.)
The strength of Louise Penny’s writing lies in the beautiful way she uses her words. The prose is almost lyrical and paints a vivid picture of the surroundings and the people in these stories. Neither Penny nor her main character, Gamache, has need for dramatics. Penny doesn’t need to go into graphic detail to show her reader the horrors people are capable of. It is the quiet way in which she tells her story, the love with which she infuses her words, the affection she has for her characters and her superb plotting that bring her readers an unforgettable reading experience. An experience I hope to be able to repeat many times in the future.