Throughout 2016 and 2017, I read the Inspector Gamache series as fast as I could (which wasn’t very fast. . .there’s a 2-3 month wait at my library for electronic versions of most of them). But when I got to book 6, Bury Your Dead, I stopped. I didn’t enjoy that one at all, and it was another 10 months before I felt like returning to the series with A Trick of the Light (well, 8 months, plus then waiting another 2 before I could get it from the library).
I’m glad to say that Bury Your Dead was the anomaly, because I found this one just as enjoyable as I had the earlier ones from the series. In A Trick of the Light, Clara, resident artist from the village of Three Pines (I would call it idyllic, but people keep getting murdered there), has her first gallery show and party. The next morning, a dead body is found in her garden. It turns out to be a childhood friend she’d had a falling out with years ago, and Inspector Gamache and his loyal team dutifully investigate the death.
Why did I like this one so much better than the one before? I’m not sure. It tied up some loose ends from a couple books back, which made me happy. It revealed a new side to Beauvoir, Gamache’s second-in-command, that I empathized with. And I guess I just found the mystery itself more compelling than I had in the previous book.
Like almost any mystery series you could think of, the Inspector Gamache books require a fair amount of suspension of disbelief. The population of Three Pines, as far as I can tell, is no more than 1000. I grew up in a town that size, and for the 18 years I lived there, I think there was one murder in that time (maybe not even that). In Three Pines you can’t even sit down to enjoy your morning coffee in your own backyard without stumbling over a body. The residents of Three Pines that we know by name have the most improbable professions: B and B owner, bookstore owner, multiple artists, a poet–but nobody is poor (maybe the poet?). It’s hard for me to care too much, though–I love Louise Penny’s writing style, I love Inspector Gamache, and I love Three Pines, that murderous little place. I’ve already requested the next book in the series from the library.