As I worked my way through this third book in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, the noise I heard in the back of my head as I read was the sound of all the elements of this series coming together in a majorly wonderful way—with so much going on and on so many levels. I enjoyed the first two books in the series but this was the one where I finished and thought, “Hell yeah.”
Once again, this story is really a story of Three Pines and its inhabitants. It’s Easter, wooden eggs are being hidden in the village square (there was one bad year when they used chocolate eggs and that attracted bears), and a psychic has come to town to do a séance. New characters to us (though long-time residents of the town) are introduced and it’s the second séance, up at the old Hadley house, that results in a death.
However, when Gamache comes to town with his team, he doesn’t come alone. He’s bringing baggage from his past, the often-referred-to Arnot case. There have been hints about this incident and its effects in past books but it is in this one that we learn what really happened. We also, thanks to our omniscient narrator, also begin to see that there are larger forces at work, gunning for Gamache and wanting to bring him down. This mix of murder investigation and police politics makes for good reading and also creates interesting echoes between the two cases.
There’s just so much good stuff going on beneath the surface of this mystery. One small example is the tension between the couple, Peter and Clara Morrow, who are both artists. Peter is the more successful of the two, but when he sees some recent work of his wife’s, his jealousy is dark and drives him to do some questionable things. This is just one of the many onion layers that gets peeled back as you read this novel.
If you like mysteries with a slow build and lots of character development, run and check out Still Life and A Fatal Grace so you can get to this one as soon as possible. You will not regret it.