Friday, December 19, 2008
Pick of the Month: The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
Protagonist: Chief Insp. Armand Gamache
Setting: Three Pines, Canada
If a book of crime fiction can be a comfort read, this is it. Despite the murder, and all the other small cruelties and jealousies in this story, I still want to live in Three Pines. There's a warmth that resides there, at Olivier's Bistro, where you can have cafe au lait and fresh-baked croissants. In the woods, the village green, the shops. At the homes, where books, beautiful art and food welcome visitors.
Well, most homes. Not at the old Hadley House, where the familiar group of Three Pines residents decides on a lark to hold a seance. One of the group, though, is literally scared to death. Gamache and his team move temporary headquarters into Three Pines. While investigating the murder, Gamache finds himself threatened by his enemies at the Sûreté, more than ever.
Throughout the book, Penny lays small clues along the way, much as the villagers in the opening scene carefully hid Easter eggs. When the murderer is revealed, in a traditional Poirot-like scene, everything clicks into place. Mysteries are puzzles, and Penny has beautifully laid out each piece, but we don't see the big picture until that final piece is in place.
This is the third in the series, and there is some resolution regarding Gamache and his future at the Sûreté. But there are some threads left hanging at the end of the book, and so we look forward to book 4 (A Rule Against Murder, being published Jan. 20th in the U.S.). I suspect some of those threads will begin to unravel.