This is book three in the Inspector Gamache series, and I am pleasantly surprised and intrigued. I was worried that this would be yet another mystery series that follows checklists every book, like how Eve Dallas always has a consult with Dr. Mira and doesn’t like tea, and Stephanie Plum whines about borrowing Uncle Sandor’s Buick, blah blah blah. We get it, you’ve done that every book for 287 books. While there have been some repeats in the quaint, seemingly-frozen, deadly village of Three Pines (Gabri and his croissants, Myrna and her flower arrangements), this book changed the game in a big way, which I wasn’t expecting to happen till way further in the series.
The central mystery itself is interesting – a local woman is scared to literal death at a séance in the old Hadley House, which we know well from the first two books. Of course, it can’t be that easy, and drugs and heart problems are found to have helped the victim along. Inspector Gamache returns to Three Pines with his team to find the non-ghostly perpetrator. But it’s not the murder mystery that takes center stage in book three. Gamache is haunted by old department scandals, beset by spies, and hounded by cruel gossip. His team is pulling together against the threat coming from within their own department, but who can be trusted? This has been a side plot previously, but comes to the forefront now, and gets some actual resolution. I’m curious to see where the series goes next. My guess is that Peter is going to be the Big Bad eventually. Dude is bad news.
Ms. Penny needs to start being more generous with her commas, (“The hot water bottle warmed her feet and pulling the comforter up she started to read,”) but otherwise, these books are delightful, with the characters getting more fully realized and interesting each book. I may get a little sick of the checklist syndrome that seems to plague mystery serieses, but for now, I’m okay with a little repetition, as long as the rest of it can keep me guessing.