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Glass Houses by Louise Penny

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Glass Houses by Louise Penny Glass Houses by Louise Penny
Narrator: Robert Bathurst
Series: Inspector Gamache #13
Published by Macmillan Audio on August 29, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Length: 13 hrs 23 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
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When a mysterious figure appears on the village green on a cold November day in Three Pines, Armand Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, knows something is seriously wrong. Yet he does nothing. Legally, what can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

From the moment its shadow falls over Three Pines, Gamache suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. When it suddenly vanishes and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

In the early days of the investigation into the murder, and months later, as the trial for the accused begins in a Montreal courtroom on a steamy day in July, the Chief Superintendent continues to struggle with actions he’s set in motion, from which there is no going back. “This case began in a higher court,” he tells the judge, “and it’s going to end there.”

And regardless of the trial’s outcome, he must face his own conscience.

I love Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache series. If you haven’t read it, you should. Do start at #1 though, you’ll appreciate them most that way.

That being said, this was not my favorite of the series. I liked the whole concept the book is built around, the ideas of Conscience and guilt and judgement. As always, the characters are well-done and I am happiest when a large part of the book revolves around the familiar village of Three Pines, as it does here. There are some new folks in town, most of whom have secrets, but finding out who they are and what they know/have done was interesting. Our old friends are all pretty much the same as always, which is good.

Things that didn’t work for me:

1. The construction of the story. This story jumps back and forth in time too much and too abruptly. We are at a courtroom trial in the present, but for half of the book we don’t know who’s on trial or who they killed. We jump back to the time when the figure appeared on the square and the crime that soon follows. I didn’t like the set-up and it’s not what I expect from Penny. Yes, I know authors can broaden their styles, try new things, but bah. I did listen to it on audio, maybe the transitions worked better in print. I didn’t really notice if they happened around chapter breaks or not.

2. It’s a bigger story than I like. It deals with the opioid epidemic and drug cartels. Yes, there was the murder and a small list of suspects, but I prefer a book to stay there. I don’t need the larger story, in this case it was the “war on drugs” but it could be any government/society altering scenario. They’re just not my cup of tea (or cafe au lait, since we are in Three Pines).

3. Gamache seemed a little off here. He’s always serious and caring, but I think the serious and, I don’t want to say guiltiness, but maybe the pressure of what he’s doing is weighing a bit too heavy, and repeated a bit too much.

And then there were the last two chapters, which were just excellent and almost redeemed the entire book for me.

About Louise Penny

Louise Penny (born 1958) is a Canadian author of mystery novels set in the Canadian province of Quebec centred on the work of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. Penny’s first career was as a radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. After she turned to writing, she won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha Award for best mystery novel of the year five times and the Anthony Award for best novel of the year five times.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

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A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
Narrator: Robert Bathurs
Series: Inspector Gamache #12
Published by Macmillan Audio on August 30, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Length: 13 hrs 33 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes.

Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must.

And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map.

Everywhere Gamache turns, he sees Amelia Choquet, one of the cadets. Tattooed and pierced. Guarded and angry. Amelia is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up. And yet she is in the academy. A protégée of the murdered professor.

The focus of the investigation soon turns to Gamache himself and his mysterious relationship with Amelia, and his possible involvement in the crime. The frantic search for answers takes the investigators back to Three Pines and a stained glass window with its own horrific secrets.

For both Amelia Choquet and Armand Gamache, the time has come for a great reckoning.

I love Penny’s Gamache series and this one was even better than the last couple. Gamache has taken the position of Commander of the Sûreté academy, the last bastion of the corruption that has plagues the Sûreté and a place to stop the corruption in its earliest stages, with the training of the cadets.

And of course, there’s a murder. One of the professors is killed, and no one at the academy is above suspicion, including Gamache  and the cadets. It’s a very personal mystery for Gamache and a complicated situation. Is murder sometimes justifiable? Is anyone beyond redemption?\

As always, it’s the characters the drive the mystery. With several trips to Three Pines and the homicide at the school, we meet most of the old familiar characters we know and love, but the new folks are well-drawn. The people here are real, even Gamache. They have strengths, but faults too, loyalties and habits.

There’s also the mystery of the old map, why it was drawn, who it belonged. It makes for an interesting diversion from the malice and tension in the present day case. I love how she can weave history and philosophy into her stories. It’s makes them fuller than a lot of the similar mysteries out there. And yes, I ended up with tears in my eyes at the end, but only a bit.

This could probably be read as a stand-alone, but the series needs read from the beginning and in order to truly appreciate it.

About Louise Penny

Louise Penny (born 1958) is a Canadian author of mystery novels set in the Canadian province of Quebec centred on the work of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. Penny’s first career was as a radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. After she turned to writing, she won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha Award for best mystery novel of the year five times and the Anthony Award for best novel of the year five times.

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

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The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
Narrator: Robert Bathurst
Published by Macmillan Audio on August 25, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Length: 12 hrs 41 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Hardly a day goes by when nine-year-old Laurent Lepage doesn't cry wolf. From alien invasions, to walking trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him. But when the boy disappears, the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true. And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal. A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, it is back.

I love Penny’s Gamache series. I may want to live in Three Pines and be friends with the characters – as long as I didn’t get murdered; it’s one of those towns where you don’t want to be a minor character or a new arrival. Actually, there are a lot of new characters in this one and we know one (or more) is the killer.

The Nature of the Beast is set in Three Pines, where Inspector Gamache has now retired with his wife Reine Marie, but of course life can’t be quiet for Gamache. A young boy is killed in the village and by not believing what the boy had told him, Gamache feels partly responsible for the death. At the same time, the local amateur theater is planning on producing a play written by a serial killer. As readers, or listeners in my case, we know the two have to be connected, but the question is how. This time, the murder in small town Quebec and the secret the woods hide may have international repercussions. Solving the mystery of who the killer is almost takes a back seat in the middle of the book, but Isobel Lacoste, current Chief Inspector, realizes it and returns to basics. She’s still establishing herself as head of the department, but she’s good and getting better.

The characters, as always, are the star here, while the plot is perhaps a bit convoluted. The secrets that led to the murder go back a long way. I kind of wish I had read this one instead of listened to the audio. Bathurst did a fine job, but I miss Cosham, the narrator on all the previous installments. Ruth Zardo plays a main role here and we learn a lot about who she is, but hers was the only voice I had a real issue with. She sounded like an old man, not like Ruth. I adore Ruth and hated that I had to keep reminding myself that that voice was her.

Penny’s books tend to be about more than the whodunit. Here we see true evil and how people (we) react in the face of it, our cowardice or capitulation or bravery.

This is not my favorite in the series, but it’s enjoyable. It does stand alone, but I really recommend reading this series from the beginning. The characters grow and life circumstances change and each book is a little fuller if you know what happened before.

 

 

About Louise Penny

Louise Penny (born 1958) is a Canadian author of mystery novels set in the Canadian province of Quebec centred on the work of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. Penny’s first career was as a radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. After she turned to writing, she won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha Award for best mystery novel of the year five times and the Anthony Award for best novel of the year five times.

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