CBR8 Reviews 5-7
I binged through the first three books in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series in about a week’s time. Unlike my previous three book binge, this one was out of sheer pleasure.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is the head of the Surêté du Québec and he and his team are assigned to look into a suspicious death in a small town outside of Montreal called Three Pines. In Three Pines, we meet a cast of characters and most of the first book (and really each of the next books as well) focuses on Gamache interacting with the townspeople and trying to determine what happened to the victim, Jane Neal. A Fatal Grace and The Cruelest Month both bring Gamache back into the fold of Three Pines with more mysterious deaths.
I’m not focusing too much on the individual plots of the books here, or at least not the deaths, because they’re almost beside the point. Penny is excellent at building interesting characters and bringing them to life. Each of the mysteries here is logical – there really are no “gotcha!” twists, just a methodical uncovering of the truth, which is something I really appreciate in a mystery. When all is revealed, the answers are logical and satisfying, but not obvious. I’ve seen these books referred to as “cozies” and that feels very apropos. Penny’s writing has an old world Agatha Christie sort of feel and they really are just a delight to read.
There is a B plot that runs through all three books that I found very intriguing. In the first book, a past episode of Gamache’s life is briefly mentioned. He refers to The Arnot Case and it is implied that it heavily limited his role and rank in the Surêté. As the books unfold, we get more details about the years-old case and why it may not be over and done with just yet. It’s a very intriguing subplot and I thought it really added a nice undercurrent to rest of the events unfolding in the books.
If you’re looking for a good old fashioned mystery series with some truly excellent (and hilarious) characters, I highly recommend these books.