Tag Archives: Canada

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
Add on Goodreads

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:

Thursday’s Tale: The Bear Cubs

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Dancing Brown Bear Cub (photo by Mark Sisson from DailyMail.com)

The book I talked about yesterday featured a seagull in the opening scene, so today I went searching for a seagull story. This tale comes from the Innu people of Canada.

When spring came, the bear woke from hibernation and came out of her den. She went for a walk to the place where most of the snow had melted so that she could eat berries. She left her children behind where they were still asleep. After she had finished eating, she went back to her den and took a nap. While she was sleeping, her children woke up and saw that their mother’s mouth was purple from eating berries.

The cubs decided to follow her footprints and try to find berries too. So they followed their mother’s footprints until they reached a patch of berries and started eating too. After they had eaten enough berries, they both went home. When they had nearly reached their den, they heard their mother making desperate cries.

It was too late. A greedy monster had killed their mother and had eaten her. This monster knew that there were cubs around because he had seen their footprints in the snow. He was very excited because he knew that baby cubs are very tasty and tender to eat. He started to run as he chased after the baby cubs.

The cubs had taken off running when they heard their mother screaming. After running for a long time, they met grandmother porcupine along the trail. They said to her, “Grandma, please let us pass. We are running away from someone who has killed our mother. Will you try to stall him while we run again?”

“Yes, I will,” replied the grandmother porcupine. “You have another grandmother who can kill this monster. You will find her. Just follow this trail,” pointing to the path ahead. And so the cubs ran again.

Shortly thereafter, the monster got to the grandmother porcupine. He said to her, “Please move out of the way grandma. I’m looking for our grandchildren. They have run away from me.”

Grandmother porcupine said, “I will not move out of the way unless you can do what they have done for me.”

The monster replied, “What did they do?”

She said, “They built me a fire and they rubbed their faces on my tail.”

The monster replied, “Oh, that’s easy. I can do that for you.” And so he built her a fire. He was very happy thinking that she would soon let him pass.

After he had finished making a fire, he rubbed his face on her tail. But while he was doing this, grandmother porcupine swung her tail very hard on his face. Quills were lodged all over his eyes and mouth.

“Now I will move out of your way so you can pass,” she said to the monster.

The monster passed, taking his time to pull the porcupine quills out of his face. After he had finished picking the quills out, he was on his way again. He saw the cubs’ prints on the ground.

The cubs were still following the trail that the grandmother porcupine had shown them. They finally reached their other grandma’s house. This grandma was a giant seagull. They said, “Grandma, we are running away from someone who has killed our mother. We are afraid he might try to kill us too.”

The grandma said, “Don’t be afraid. I have killed this kind of monster before.” The cubs were no longer afraid.

She said, “I will take both of you across to where you can stay safely.” She took them across the water in her boat.

The cubs said to their grandmother, “Will you kill this monster, Grandma?”

“I will,” she replied.

When she got back to her boat, she painted it with dirty, smelly fish. When the monster reached the crossing place, he called out to the seagull, “Grandma, please come help me get across!”

The seagull paddled her boat to the monster.

“Did you see our grandchildren? I have been running after them. I was thinking of eating them because they are still very tender.”

The seagull said, “Yes, I have seen them. I took them across. Would you like to go across too?”

“Yes,” said the monster. And he got into the boat. When he got into the boat, he couldn’t stand the smell of it.

The seagull said, “If you can’t stand the smell, hang your head over the side instead.” And so the monster held his head over the water to avoid smelling the stinking boat. While he was doing this, the seagull took a huge knife out from hiding and cut his head off. It fell into the water.

After she had killed the monster, she went back to the bear cubs. “I have already killed the monster who killed your mother,” she said. “You can both stay here, and I will make you toys to play with.”

The bear cubs played with their boat on the river, and they had a lot of fun. They stayed there forever.

Both the porcupine and the seagull are brave and clever. I’m not quite sure what kind of monster it was though.

Seagulls play a variety of roles in the folklore of different Native American tribes. In some cases, seagulls are antagonists criticized for their noisy, aggressive, and greedy behavior, which totally makes sense. In others, they are noted for their endurance and perseverence. In some Northwest Coast tribes, Seagull was said to have powers over storms and weather.

Seagulls are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Seagull Clans include the Ahtna tribe and the Chippewa tribe (whose Gull Clan and its totem are called Gayaashk.) Seagull is used as a clan crest in some Northwest Coast tribes (especially the Nuu-chah-nulth), and can sometimes be found carved on totem poles.

Totem at Stanley Park in Vancouver

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

Thursday’s Tale: Trapper’s Ghost

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sled-dog

I’ve got another wintry story today from AmericanFolklore.net. It’s about a not very nice trapper from Canada.

The trapper who roamed the wilds of Labrador on a sleigh pulled by eight pure white Huskies. He was tall and dressed in layer upon layer of animal skins.

The trapper was a cruel man, and the people in the local towns did not like him, though they tolerated his company when he came to town because of the rich animal skins he brought with him. When he came to a town, the trapper would sell his skins and then drink away his money at the local tavern. He assaulted the local women, picked fights with the townsmen, and tried to sell alcohol to the natives. After a few days of such behavior, the constable would toss the trapper out of town. Then the trapper would resume his roaming and trapping until he came to another town.

No one knows exactly how the trapper met his fate, although it was rumored that he went a little too far in his pursuit of a local innkeeper’s fair wife and was shot to death by her disgruntled husband. Other folks say he lived to an old age and died out on the trail. But it swiftly became clear that death did not end his roaming.

Each winter, the trapper’s ghost roams the wilds of Labrador on a sleigh pulled by eight white Huskies. They say that his spirit was refused entry into heaven and remains forever in Labrador, atoning for the many sins he committed during his lifetime by helping lost travelers find their way home. Many a weary soul has looked up from their frantic circling to see a large sleigh pulled by white dogs coming toward them. If they follow it, they are led to safety.

Once a lost trapper found himself caught in a terrible blizzard, far from the nearest town. As he sought in vain to find a place to shelter from the storm, the phantom trapper appeared with his sleigh. Animal skins flapping in the raging wind and blinding snow, the phantom tenderly lifted the nearly-frozen man, placed him among the rugs on his sleigh, and drove the dying trapper to the nearest town. The phantom carried the man right into the inn, placed him gently on a chair by the door, summoned the innkeeper to care for the man, and then vanished right before the astonished innkeeper’s eyes.

I kind of like that the trapper changed his ways after his death.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

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