What struck me most as I read A Fatal Grace was the compassion of Inspector Armand Gemache. I have only read two of the Inspector Gemache books, but I suspect that Louise Penny puts great value on people who see. People who see more than the surface. Gemache can see into people, and find compassion for them. Clara sees and creates art. Ruth sees and writes poetry.
‘People expect me to be cynical because of my job,’ Gamache found himself saying, ‘but they don’t understand. It’s exactly as you’ve said. I spend my days looking into the last room in the house, the one we keep barred and hidden even from ourselves. The one with all our monsters, fetid and rotting and waiting. My job is to find people who take lives. And to do that I have to find out why. And to do that I have to get into their heads and open that last door. But when I come out again,’ he opened his arms in an expansive movement, ‘the world is suddenly more beautiful, more alive, more lovely than ever. When you see the worst you appreciate the best.’
It’s not a spoiler to identify CC de Poitiers as the murder victim, or identity her as a thoroughly awful person. CC did not see, she did not understand art or beauty, and she had no poetry. She did have cruel words for everybody. The way she was able to kill with her words lead to her death. Her killer isn’t a surprise, but their identity is heartbreaking.
Even those who can see have blind spots. Gemache is starting to see that he has been blind to some larger machinations within the Surete. Either he can’t see the rage in front of him, or it is so foreign to him that he doesn’t believe it. I’m hoping this particular storyline is wrapped up in the next book.