Review: A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

I found myself laughing and crying while listening to this, something I don’t find myself saying about traditional or cozy mysteries usually, especially the crying part. Penny just has a gift of writing the characters and events in ways that I connect with. Of course, walking the dog around the block choking back tears probably got me some odd looks, but there’s a fire scene that just grabbed me.

This is the second in the Gamache series, and I do think it could be read alone, but the events of the first were alluded to occasionally. I think I appreciated it more by having read Still Life first.

Three Pines is a delightful town in Canada and the residents are celebrating Christmas. I love some of their traditions by the way, especially the Réveillon, a party that many of characters gather for after the Christmas Eve service. It just seemed very heart-warming to me, maybe I just like the fact that the village really is a family, they support and love each other.

But CC de Poitiers was an outsider who had bought a house in the town only a year earlier. When she is killed while watching a traditional curling match, Inspector Gamache is called in to investigate. There are plenty of subjects, including her husband, but the way the murder was committed is almost unbelievable, until the solution is revealed.

While the mystery’s well done, is really the characters that make this book for me. Gamache himself is a wise, loyal, kind man who has some enemies of his own that he will have to deal with eventually. The townspeople include artists, a poet, a bookseller, the owners of the B&B/antique store/cafe. One older woman runs a meditation center. And there’s CC’s daughter, an overweight girl verbally abused by her mother who has the voice of an angel. They would all be misfits, but here they come together and form an amazing community.

Penny deals some with religion in this book, with a few of the characters’ personal experiences with God. The book has more meat to it than a lot of cozy mysteries I’ve read. She gives you something to mull over while entertaining you.

I enjoyed listening to this on audio rather than reading it. Several of the characters are French-speaking and there are French words peppered throughout the story. I like hearing them pronounced, it make the setting come alive for me.

Definitely one I’d recommend to mystery lovers. It’s not necessarily suspenseful, but it hooked me.

Purchase at Amazon or Indie bookstore.

4 out of 5 stars

Category: Mystery & Detective

Chief Inspector Gamache #2
Agatha Award 2007
First published 2006
10 hours, 31 minutes
Narrated by Ralph Cosham

Book source: Library

18 Comments

  1. rosecityreader

    I came to read your Teaser Tuesday post, but the evocative cover on this book pulled me into your review. I’m glad I read it — it looks like just the kind of book I would enjoy. I find myself enjoying cozies more and more, especially one with meat on the bones. And I really enjoy reading mysteries with my ears, so thanks for the tip on the audiobook!

    Rose City Reader

  2. This sounds like it’s not at all in the normal run of cozy mysteries. I don’t usually do audiobooks, but I want to give them another go- I used to do them sometimes when I had long commutes. Maybe soon 🙂

    • I don’t know if it’s a cozy or not. There’s no violence, but the detective is a professional, but he gets a lot of help from the villagers. I think it’s somewhere between traditional and cozy, but I do think that if you enjoy cozy mysteries, you’d enjoy this.

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