Penny's newest mystery returns to Three Pines, the bucolic but hardly idyllic hamlet south of Montreal where Inspector Gamache has his hands full contending with a pair of murders including that of a spiritual and domestic diva. Veteran reader Cosham isn't the best choice for this project, although his rich baritone voice can mesmerize listeners. The entire town plus the local office of the Sûreté de Québec is swept up in these murders, but unfortunately, the citizens all sound alike, as do Em, Kay and Mother, who are referred to as the Three Graces. Cosham's French is perfect, if a bit formal, but he uses the language spoken in Europe, not the Québécois dialect and pronunciation that would be used by the locals. His British accent is also a bit tony for this corner of Canada and its artistic but down-to-earth inhabitants. Despite the apparent miscasting, Cosham's pace makes the witty narrative frothy and irresistible, like a good café au lait. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's Minotaur hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 12). (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Gamache Series #2)by Louise Penny, Ralph Cosham
When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called to investigate a woman’s death, it doesn’t take long for him to realize that no love was lost on Miss de Poitiers. But even if everyone hated her—/b>/i>/b>/i>
Welcome back to Three Pines where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas…and murder.
When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called to investigate a woman’s death, it doesn’t take long for him to realize that no love was lost on Miss de Poitiers. But even if everyone hated her—her husband, lover, and daughter among them—how is it that no one saw her get electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake in the center of town?
A FATAL GRACE Gamache digs beneath the surface of Three Pines to find where the real secrets are buried. But other troubles lie ahead for the detective. It seems he has some enemies of his own…and with the coming of the bitter winter winds, something far more chilling is in store.
“This is a fine mystery in the classic Agatha Christie style and it is sure to leave fans wanting more.”—Booklist
“The cozy mystery has a graceful practitioner…in Louise Penny.” —The New York Times
In this follow-up to Penny's acclaimed debut, Still Life, Québec Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his thoughtful team of sleuths from the Sûreté du Québec tackle the murder of Martha Stewart wannabe CC de Poitiers. Electrocuted as she watched a neighborhood curling match in the tiny village of Three Pines, the diva of the emerging "Be Calm" lifestyle empire was nobody's favorite. Suspects abound: her long-suffering husband, her opportunist lover, her dysfunctional daughter, and pretty much everyone else in the village who encountered the self-absorbed CC. But why work so hard to kill her? Mourning is minimal. Gamache and his team are thoroughly perplexed. As the investigation proceeds, a strangely manufactured life is revealed, and CC is linked to yet another unsolved murder. By the story's end, Gamache is provided an excellent opportunity for mentoring, he makes peace with his prickly boss, and readers get a traditional and highly intelligent mystery. Still Lifewas a Debut Dagger honor book in Britain, and Penny's new title is sure to create great reader demand for more stories featuring civilized and articulate Chief Inspector Gamache. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ1/07.]
Susan Clifford Braun
“The cozy mystery, which aims to charm as much as challenge, has a graceful practicioner of that artful dodge in Louise Penny.” The New York Times Book Review
“A traditional and highly intelligent mystery….sure to create great reader demand for more stories featuring civilized and articulate Chief Inspector Gamache…. Highly recommended.” Library Journal (starred review)
“Remarkably, Penny manages to top her outstanding debut. Gamache is a prodigiously complicated and engaging hero, destined to become one of the classic detectives.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“For all the perplexing mechanics of the murder, and the snowed-in village setting, this is not the usual "cosy" or even a traditional mystery. It's a finely written, intelligent and observant book. Imbued with a constant awareness of the astonishing cold, this perfect blend of police procedural and closed-room mystery finds its solution, as in the best of those traditions, in the slow unlayering of a sorrowful past.” Houston Chronicle
“Gamache, a smart and likable investigator--think Columbo with an accent, or perhaps a modern-day Poirot--systematically wades his way through the pool, coming upon a few surprises along the way....This is a fine mystery in the classic Agatha Christie style, and it is sure to leave mainstream fans wanting more.” Booklist
“This book is a small and perfect literary jewel. Penny is the best writer of traditional mysteries to come along in decades. I haven't read a book this beautifully written since A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell.” Kingston Observer
“Very simply, I loved this book. I expect you will, too.” Mystery Scene magazine
“The cast of A Fatal Grace is a marvelous mystery….the plotting is intricate, the pacing perfect, the writing brilliant….Ms. Penny leaves a bit of a cliffhanger for readers to ponder until the next installment. It can't come soon enough for me.” Cozy Library blog
“A cerebral, satisfying novel….it transcends genre, giving a thoughtful look at the human soul and the divine presence….A Fatal Grace has a grace all it's own.” I Love a Mystery blog
“Louise Penny's A Fatal Grace is one of the best mysteries I've read this year.” Lesa's Book Critiques
“There are portions of this book that are so beautifully written they stick with the reader for months….As I read this I thought if Emily Dickinson ever came back to Earth, it might be an a mystery writer.” Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore
“The beauty of Louise Penny's auspicious debut novel, Still Life, is that it's composed entirely of grace notes, all related to the central mystery of who shot an arrow into the heart of Miss Jane Neal....The dear old thing had hidden depths, courtesy of an author whose deceptively simple style masks the complex patterns of a well-devised plot.” The New York Times Book Review on Still Life
“Terrific. Like a virtuoso, Penny plays a complex variation on the theme of the clue hidden in plain sight. A winning traditional mystery.” Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Still Life
“Cerebral, wise, and compassionate, Gamache is destined for stardom. Don't miss this stellar debut.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on Still Life
“A gem of a book....a beautifully told, lyrically written story of love, life, friendship, and tragedy.” Booklist (starred review) on Still Life
“This cerebral mystery...is a rare treat.” People on Still Life
“A perfectly executed traditional mystery.” The Denver Post on Still Life
“Don't look for the hamlet of Three Pines anywhere on a map of the countryside outside of Montreal, although Louise Penny has made the town and its residents so real...that you might just try to find it.” Chicago Tribune on Still Life
Read an Excerpt
A Fatal Grace
By Louise Penny
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2006 Louise Penny
All rights reserved.
Had CC de Poitiers known she was going to be murdered she might have bought her husband, Richard, a Christmas gift. She might even have gone to her daughter's end of term pageant at Miss Edward's School for Girls, or 'girths' as CC liked to tease her expansive daughter. Had CC de Poitiers known the end was near she might have been at work instead of in the cheapest room the Ritz in Montreal had to offer. But the only end she knew was near belonged to a man named Saul.
'So, what do you think? Do you like it?' She balanced her book on her pallid stomach.
Saul looked at it, not for the first time. She'd dragged it out of her huge purse every five minutes for the past few days. In business meetings, dinners, taxi rides through the snowy streets of Montreal, CC'd suddenly bend down and emerge triumphant, holding her creation as though another virgin birth.
'I like the picture,' he said, knowing the insult. He'd taken the picture. He knew she was asking, pleading, for more and he knew he no longer cared to give it. And he wondered how much longer he could be around CC de Poitiers before he became her. Not physically, of course. At forty-eight she was a few years younger than him. She was slim and ropy and toned, her teeth impossibly white and her hair impossibly blonde. Touching her was like caressing a veneer of ice. There was a beauty to it, and a frailty he found attractive. But there was also danger. If she ever broke, if she shattered, she'd tear him to pieces.
But her exterior wasn't the issue. Watching her caress her book with more tenderness than she'd ever shown when caressing him, he wondered whether her ice water insides had somehow seeped into him, perhaps during sex, and were slowly freezing him. Already he couldn't feel his core.
At fifty-two Saul Petrov was just beginning to notice his friends weren't quite as brilliant, not quite as clever, not quite as slim as they once were. In fact, most had begun to bore him. And he'd noticed a telltale yawn or two from them as well. They were growing thick and bald and dull, and he suspected he was too. It wasn't so bad that women rarely looked at him any more or that he'd begun to consider trading his downhill skis for cross country, or that his GP had scheduled his first prostate test. He could accept all that. What woke Saul Petrov at two in the morning, and whispered in his ears in the voice that had warned him as a child that lions lived under his bed, was the certainty that people now found him boring. He'd take deep dark breaths of the night air, trying to reassure himself that the stifled yawn of his dinner companion was because of the wine or the magret de canard or the warmth in the Montreal restaurant, wrapped as they were in their sensible winter sweaters.
But still the night voice growled and warned of dangers ahead. Of impending disaster. Of telling tales too long, of an attention span too short, of seeing the whites of too many eyes. Of glances, fast and discreet, at watches. When can they reasonably leave him? Of eyes scanning the room, desperate for more stimulating company.
And so he'd allowed himself to be seduced by CC. Seduced and devoured so that the lion under the bed had become the lion in the bed. He'd begun to suspect this self-absorbed woman had finally finished absorbing herself, her husband and even that disaster of a daughter and was now busy absorbing him.
He'd already become cruel in her company. And he'd begun despising himself. But not quite as much as he despised her.
'It's a brilliant book,' she said, ignoring him. 'I mean, really. Who wouldn't want this?' She waved it in his face. 'People'll eat it up. There're so many troubled people out there.' She turned now and actually looked out their hotel room window at the building opposite, as though surveying her 'people'. 'I did this for them.' Now she turned back to him, her eyes wide and sincere.
Does she believe it? he wondered.
He'd read the book, of course. Be Calm she'd called it, after the company she'd founded a few years ago, which was a laugh given the bundle of nerves she actually was. The anxious, nervous hands, constantly smoothing and straightening. The snippy responses, the impatience that spilled over into anger.
Calm was not a word anyone would apply to CC de Poitiers, despite her placid, frozen exterior.
She'd shopped the book around to all the publishers, beginning with the top publishing houses in New York and ending with Publications Réjean et Maison des cartes in St Polycarpe, a one-vache village along the highway between Montreal and Toronto.
They'd all said no, immediately recognizing the manuscript as a flaccid mishmash of ridiculous self-help philosophies, wrapped in half-baked Buddhist and Hindu teachings, spewed forth by a woman whose cover photo looked as though she'd eat her young.
'No goddamned enlightenment,' she'd said to Saul in her Montreal office the day a batch of rejection letters arrived, ripping them into pieces and dropping them on the floor for the hired help to clean up. 'This world is messed up, I tell you. People are cruel and insensitive, they're out to screw each other. There's no love or compassion. This,' she sliced her book violently in the air like an ancient mythical hammer, heading for an unforgiving anvil, 'will teach people how to find happiness.'
Her voice was low, the words staggering under the weight of venom. She'd gone on to self-publish her book, making sure it was out in time for Christmas. And while the book talked a lot about light Saul found it interesting and ironic that it had actually been released on the winter solstice. The darkest day of the year.
'Who published it again?' He couldn't seem to help himself. She was silent. 'Oh, I remember now,' he said. 'No one wanted it. That must have been horrible.' He paused for a moment, wondering whether to twist the knife. Oh, what the hell. Might as well. 'How'd that make you feel?' Did he imagine the wince?
But her silence remained, eloquent, her face impassive. Anything CC didn't like didn't exist. That included her husband and her daughter. It included any unpleasantness, any criticism, any harsh words not her own, any emotions. CC lived, Saul knew, in her own world, where she was perfect, where she could hide her feelings and hide her failings.
He wondered how long before that world would explode. He hoped he'd be around to see it. But not too close.
People are cruel and insensitive, she'd said. Cruel and insensitive. It wasn't all that long ago, before he'd taken the contract to freelance as CC's photographer and lover, that he'd actually thought the world a beautiful place. Each morning he'd wake early and go into the young day, when the world was new and anything was possible, and he'd see how lovely Montreal was. He'd see people smiling at each other as they got their cappuccinos at the café, or their fresh flowers or their baguettes. He'd see the children in autumn gathering the fallen chestnuts to play conkers. He'd see the elderly women walking arm in arm down the Main.
He wasn't foolish or blind enough not to also see the homeless men and women, or the bruised and battered faces that spoke of a long and empty night and a longer day ahead.
But at his core he believed the world a lovely place. And his photographs reflected that, catching the light, the brilliance, the hope. And the shadows that naturally challenged the light.
Ironically it was this very quality that had caught CC's eye and led her to offer him the contract. An article in a Montreal style magazine had described him as a 'hot' photographer, and CC always went for the best. Which was why they always took a room at the Ritz. A cramped, dreary room on a low floor without view or charm, but the Ritz. CC would collect the shampoos and stationery to prove her worth, just as she'd collected him. And she'd use them to make some obscure point to people who didn't care, just as she'd use him. And then, eventually, everything would be discarded. As her husband had been tossed aside, as her daughter was ignored and ridiculed.
The world was a cruel and insensitive place.
And he now believed it.
He hated CC de Poitiers.
He got out of bed, leaving CC to stare at her book, her real lover. He looked at her and she seemed to go in and out of focus. He cocked his head to one side and wondered whether he'd had too much to drink again. But still she seemed to grow fuzzy, then sharp, as though he was looking through a prism at two different women, one beautiful, glamorous, vivacious, and the other a pathetic, dyed-blonde rope, all corded and wound and knotted and rough. And dangerous.
'What's this?' He reached into the garbage and withdrew a portfolio. He recognized it immediately as an artist's dossier of work. It was beautifully and painstakingly bound and printed on archival Arche paper. He flipped it open and caught his breath.
A series of works, luminous and light, seemed to glow off the fine paper. He felt a stirring in his chest. They showed a world both lovely and hurt. But mostly, it was a world where hope and comfort still existed. It was clearly the world the artist saw each day, the world the artist lived in. As he himself once lived in a world of light and hope.
The works appeared simple but were in reality very complex. Images and colors were layered one on top of the other. Hours and hours, days and days must have been spent on each one to get the desired effect.
He stared down at the one before him now. A majestic tree soared into the sky, as though keening for the sun. The artist had photographed it and had somehow captured a sense of movement without making it disorienting. Instead it was graceful and calming and, above all, powerful. The tips of the branches seemed to melt or become fuzzy as though even in its confidence and yearning there was a tiny doubt. It was brilliant.
All thoughts of CC were forgotten. He'd climbed into the tree, almost feeling tickled by its rough bark, as if he had been sitting on his grandfather's lap and snuggling into his unshaven face. How had the artist managed that?
He couldn't make out the signature. He flipped through the other pages and slowly felt a smile come to his frozen face and move to his hardened heart.
Maybe, one day, if he ever got clear of CC he could go back to his work and do pieces like this.
He exhaled all the darkness he'd stored up.
'So, do you like it?' CC held her book up and waved it at him.CHAPTER 2
Crie carefully got into her costume, trying not to rip the white chiffon. The Christmas pageant had already started. She could hear the lower forms singing 'Away in a manger,' though it sounded suspiciously like 'A whale in a manger'. She wondered, briefly, whether that was a comment on her. Were they all laughing at her? She swallowed that thought and continued dressing, humming a bit as she went.
'Who's doing that?' The voice of Madame Latour, the music teacher, could be heard in the crowded, excited room. 'Who's humming?'
Madame's face, birdlike and bright, peeked round the corner where Crie had crept to change alone. Instinctively Crie grabbed her costume and tried to cover her near-naked fourteen-year-old body. It was impossible, of course. Too much body and too little chiffon.
'Was it you?'
Crie stared, too frightened to speak. Her mother had warned her about this. Had warned her never to sing in public.
But now, betrayed by a buoyant heart, she'd actually let some humming escape.
Madame Latour stared at the huge girl and felt a bit of her lunch in her throat. Those rolls of fat, those dreadful dimples, the underwear disappearing into the flesh. The face so frozen and staring. The science teacher, Monsieur Drapeau, had commented that Crie was top in his class, though another teacher had pointed out that one topic that semester had been vitamins and minerals and Crie had probably eaten the textbook.
Still, here she was at the pageant so maybe she was coming out of herself, though that would take a lot of doing.
'Better hurry. You're on soon.' She left without waiting for a reply.
This was the first Christmas pageant Crie had been in in the five years she'd been at Miss Edward's School for Girls. Every other year while the students made their costumes she'd made mumbled excuses. No one had ever tried to dissuade her. Instead she'd been given the job of running the lights for the show, having a head, as Madame Latour put it, for technical things. Things not alive, she'd meant. So each year Crie would watch the Christmas pageant alone in the dark at the back, as the beautiful, glowing, gifted girls had danced and sung the story of the Christmas miracle, basking in the light Crie provided.
But not this year.
She got into her costume and looked at herself in the mirror. A huge chiffon snowflake looked back. Really, she had to admit, more of a snowdrift than a single flake, but still, it was a costume and it was quite splendid. The other girls' mothers had helped them, but Crie had done her own. To surprise Mommy, she'd told herself, trying to drown out the other voice.
If she looked closely she could see the tiny droplets of blood where her pudgy, indelicate fingers had fumbled the needle and speared herself. But she'd persevered until she finally had this costume. And then she'd had her brainwave. Really, the most brilliant thought in her entire fourteen years.
Her mother, she knew, revered light. It was, she'd been told all her life, what we all strive for. That's why it's called enlightenment. Why smart people are described as bright. Why thin people succeed. Because they're lighter than others.
It was all so obvious.
And now Crie would actually be playing a snowflake. The whitest, lightest of elements. And her own bit of brilliance? She'd gone to the dollar store and with her allowance bought a bottle of glitter. She'd even managed to walk straight past the chocolate bars, stale and staring. Crie had been on a diet for a month now and soon she was sure her mother would notice.
She'd applied glue and glitter and now she looked at the results.
For the first time in her life Crie knew she was beautiful. And she knew, in just a few short minutes, her mother would think so too.
Clara Morrow stared through the frosted mullions of her living-room window at the tiny village of Three Pines. She leaned forward and shaved some frost from the window. Now that we have some money, she thought, we should replace the old windows. But while Clara knew that was the sensible thing to do, most of her decisions weren't really sensible. But they suited her life. And now, watching the snow globe that was Three Pines, she knew she liked looking at it through the beautiful designs the frost made on the old glass.
Sipping a hot chocolate she watched as brightly swaddled villagers strolled through the softly falling snow, waving mittened hands in greeting and occasionally stopping to chat to each other, their words coming in puffs, like cartoon characters. Some headed into Olivier's Bistro for a café au lait, others needed fresh bread or a pâtisserie from Sarah's Boulangerie. Myrna's New and Used Books, next to the bistro, was closed for the day. Monsieur Béliveau shoveled the front walk of his general store and waved to Gabri, huge and dramatic, rushing across the green from his bed and breakfast on the corner. To a stranger the villagers would be anonymous, even asexual. In a Quebec winter everyone looked alike. Great waddling, swaddling, muffled masses of goose down and Thinsulate so that even the slim looked plump and the plump looked globular. Each looked the same. Except for the tuques on their heads. Clara could see Ruth's bright green pompom hat nodding to Wayne's multi-colored cap, knitted by Pat on long autumn nights. The Lévesque kids all wore shades of blue as they skated up and down the frozen pond after the hockey puck, little Rose trembling so hard in the net even Clara could see her aqua bonnet quiver. But her brothers loved her and each time they raced toward the net they pretended to trip and instead of letting go a blistering slap shot they gently slipped toward her until they all ended up in a confused and happy heap on the verge of the goal. It looked to Clara like one of those Currier and Ives prints she'd stared at for hours as a child and yearned to step into.
Three Pines was robed in white. A foot of snow had fallen in the last few weeks and every old home round the village green had its own tuque of purest white. Smoke wafted out of the chimneys as though the homes had their own voice and breath, and Christmas wreaths decorated the doors and gates. At night the quiet little Eastern Townships village glowed with light from the Christmas decorations. There was a tender hum about the place as adults and children alike prepared for the big day.
Excerpted from A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny. Copyright © 2006 Louise Penny. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
LOUISE PENNY is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of ten Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has won numerous awards, including a CWA Dagger and the Agatha Award (five times) and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. She lives in a small village south of Montréal.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Louise Penny is one of the few authors who can combine strong and singular characters, lyrical writing style and satisfying plots into an immensely readable book. Her characters in the Three Pines series become neighbors that you grow to both love and sometimes, not so much, as each develops into complex and very human dimensional character. The plots are vehicles for the character development, but they are well thought out and progress at a pace that does not bore. It is with the side plots where I feel she truly excels - this is where you will Penny offering day-to-day situations and exploring the motivations for our actions that all people deal with. There are endless topics here for book clubs to discuss. But foremost for me is her style of writing. She is a wordsmith. The well- crafted sentences, finding the precise word and turning a phrase that conveys meaning in a near poetic manner makes her works a joy to read. She is an author who will remind you why it is you love to read. The series does not have to be read in order, but if you do, the characters will unfold in a graceful way. "A Fatal Grace" is the 4th of the series I have read, and it's one of my favorites so far.
I am now in my 3rd Three Pines mystery, so obviously, I like them. Armand Gamache is a character that I really love and want to continue reading about. In fact, the goings-on at his police dept. trump the dramas at Three Pines. One has to keep reading to see if he figures it all out. This particular Three Pines mystery was a good one. I just had a problem with the murderer--I'm not convinced that that person had the intelligence and cunning to pull that off. Other than that, I have only praise for the book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves mysteries and doesn't love gratuitous violence and gore.
This is book for serious readers as well as plain, unashamed mystery lovers. I've read all the books in the series about Chief Inspector Gamache and the Surete de Quebec. Like the others in the series, this would be a great choice for club discussions, whether of writing technique, plot construction, psychological insight, personalities of the main characters, implied social commentary...and more. There's a lot of meat in these stories. Louise Penny's novels are novels first and mysteries second, which is what I like best about them. They are also told in a vice that give the reader almost as much information about their author as she provides for her characters. Setting, characterizations (a special challenge because this is part of a series that contains only a few new people in each story) all are without fail surprising, illuminating, and above all, to me--real. I admire the moral messages in each book of the series that are delivered so painlessly and intrinsically.
Penny has a real insight into people and a wonderful way of creating a cozy atmosphere, small town living. Compelling characters and brain teasing who-dun-it. Thoroughly enjoyed it! Another hit!! A couple of other books that are on my "masterpiece shelf",...EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by Linda Pirrung and THE HELP, by K. Stockett.
Once I read one book by Louise Penny, I ordered all her others from B&N -- I wasn't disappointed... as a matter of fact, I've ordered her next one!
I very seldom read a book again, with the exception of Louise Penny. Penny's books bring tears of sadness and happiness to me. I would love to meet Clara and see her paintings. And I feel a kinship with Ruth, that old woman with a gruff exterior and a heart of gold. Three Pines, the village, stands as a Brigadoon that only a few chosen people find and enjoy. Each character has an interesting personality. The three older women show the strength and vulnerability of these three friends. I notice that this book points to a future book, How the Light Gets In, many times. Inspector Gamache is one of most favorite detectives. Whenever I feel my life hitting snags, I think of Gamache, and know I need to try harder.
Penny's books are so enjoyable to read and I can't wait for each new one to come out. This book is entertaining and a great read. Her characters are interesting and I find myself really caring about them.
This series could be described as 'Lake Woebegon' with murders. The writing is sharp with effective dialog. The reader is transported to Three Pines and becomes immersed in the idylic life of the village. The mysteries are believable, the tension builds nicely and the endings are realistic and satisfying. If you're looking for several hours of enjoyment, these books are well worth the investment.
I enjoyed the setting and the style which reminded me of Elizabeth George. The "suspects" were well done and hard to pinpoint which made it exciting. I liked the characters very much.
Well, I am truly enamored with Louise Penny after reading the second in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, not only for the mystery aspects but her insights into the human psyche. Anxious to continue sharing the lives of Three Pines with Gamache's and his cohorts.
The series is great---it does not just go on and on about the crime---but gets one invol ved with the people, history, etc. Hope she continues with the series.
The setting is during the winter, illustrating the beauty and challenges of the snow and cold in this quaint village. This especially resonated with me as I read the story in December. The characters are so well developed that you feel you know each of them and are a part of their little community. Ms. Penny's structure is reminiscent of the Grand Dame Agatha Christie as she drops clues along the story's journey which are individually examined by her version of Hercule Poirot, who then weaves them together at the end of the story. Very entertaining. Turning from chapter to chapter, you find that you've started the next book. I recommend, though not required, that the books be read in order so you get to know the characters and references to prior books make better sense.
I am now on #7 in the series and I've loved every book! The ongoing people in the books are interesting and it's also nice to get so much histery and ambiance of Canada in this mystery series.
I really didn't think I would like these books because I am not crazy about cozy village mysteries, but I like the characters and Gamache. Even though I had figured out who the murderers were fairly easily, I still enjoyed the book. I'm very caught up in Gamache's problem with this previous Arnot case and the continuing fall out from it. Also I'm very intrigued by Agent Nichol--she is a puzzling and unlikeable character, but you think she might be redeemable. I'm very much looking forward to reading the next book to see who is working against Gamache and trying to bring him down and how he will handle that problem. The only thing I don't like about this series is how long it takes to get into the plot, and the excerpts of (character) Ruth Zardo's poetry is getting excessive. A little of that goes a long way. Otherwise, I enjoy the time I spend in Three Pines and would love to visit and get a bite to eat at Oliver's bistro.
In Three Pines, Quebec socialite CC de Poitiers runs a successful personal guidance business based on her book Be Calm until she participates in the local Yuletide curling competition only to be electrocuted. Montreal Chief Inspector Armand Gamache arrives at the tiny village to lead the official inquiry into what appears to be a tragic accident.----------- Armand interviews the victim¿s submissive spouse and overweight daughter, a lover, a rival self-help guru, curling competitors and officials, and some townsfolk. All seem to have alibis, but share in common a universal loathing of CC. In fact each person questioned paints a picture of an abusive ugly person and that the culprit should be honored not arrested. Thus everyone he has talked to especially the family members has a motive for killing the apparently odious CC de Poitiers most had an opportunity though they offer alibis.----------------- When Gamache is front and center investigating the death, A FATAL GRACE is a superb police procedural when the plot refers to the past especially that of the odious deceased it loses momentum. Still the story line contains a fine whodunit as it appears that much of Quebec wanted the nasty CC dead and several had the opportunity to fix her equipment and that make for a bunch of suspects for the police and readers to sift through and find out who, of all those who wanted her dead actually, acted on the desire.----------- Harriet Klausner
I read "Still Life," the first Armand Gamache novel as a book club read. I loved it and so read "A Fatal Grace." The characters of the town of Three Pines as well as Gamache and his team are absolutely fascinating. Each character is familiar and yet just Canadian enough to make each unique. I enjoy the quirkiness of each of them. The main plot of the murder is marvelous to watch unfurl, yet there is the underlying politics of the Quebec police department which doesn't get resolved to make us come back for more.
Just started reading Armand Gamache series last summer & love the stories. I feel like I'm in the village of Three Pines & know all the main characters & that I could join them for café au lait at the Bistro. I can never figure out the murderer before the end so am compelled to read, read, & read...