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How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Gamache Series #9)
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How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Gamache Series #9)

4.5 169
by Louise Penny

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The #1 New York Times Bestseller

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." —Leonard Cohen

Christmas is approaching, and in Québec it's a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. But shadows are falling on the usually festive


The #1 New York Times Bestseller

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." —Leonard Cohen

Christmas is approaching, and in Québec it's a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. But shadows are falling on the usually festive season for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department, his old friend and lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir hasn't spoken to him in months, and hostile forces are lining up against him. When Gamache receives a message from Myrna Landers that a longtime friend has failed to arrive for Christmas in the village of Three Pines, he welcomes the chance to get away from the city. Mystified by Myrna's reluctance to reveal her friend's name, Gamache soon discovers the missing woman was once one of the most famous people not just in North America, but in the world, and now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone except the mad, brilliant poet Ruth Zardo.
As events come to a head, Gamache is drawn ever deeper into the world of Three Pines. Increasingly, he is not only investigating the disappearance of Myrna's friend but also seeking a safe place for himself and his still-loyal colleagues. Is there peace to be found even in Three Pines, and at what cost to Gamache and the people he holds dear?
How the Light Gets In is the ninth Chief Inspector Gamache Novel from Louise Penny.
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Mystery/Thriller Books of 2013
One of The Washington Post's Top 10 Books of the Year
An NPR Best Book of 2013

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

NPR's Best Books of 2013

Washington Post Top 5 Fiction Books of the Year

Library Journal's Top 5 Mysteries for 2013

The Globe and Mail Best Book List for 2013

Booklist's Year's Best Crime Novels for 2013

“This is a mystery novel worth staying home for: Cancel those weekend plans, crank up the air conditioner and mute all electronic devices…In ‘How the Light Gets In,’ Penny has written a magnificent mystery novel that appeals not only to the head, but also to the heart and soul.”
The Washington Post

“The delightfully quirky inhabitants of Three Pines are the kind of people you can’t wait to see again.”
—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“Penny proves again that she is one of our finest writers.”
People (4 stars)

“Good and evil do battle not just out in the world, Ms. Penny's thoughtful and absorbing text shows, but in each of us.”
Wall Street Journal

“Louise Penny has done it again. Magic. Wonderful, captivating, heart-pumping,
edge-of-the-seat magic.”
Huffington Post

“Penny’s Quebec-set Inspector Gamache novels concentrate on psychological underpinnings of the crimes and are among the strongest and most fascinating books being written…
This is a wonderful book.”
RT Book Review Magazine, TOP PICK, 4 ½ stars

“Masterful...Once again, Penny impressively balances personal courage and faith with heartbreaking choices and monstrous evil.”
Publishers Weekly (starred) on How the Light Gets In

“Penny has always used setting to support theme brilliantly, but here she outdoes herself, contrasting light and dark, innocence and experience, goodness and evil both in the emotional lives of her characters and in the way those characters leave their footprints on the landscape. Another bravura performance from an author who has reinvented the village mystery as profoundly as Dashiell Hammett transformed the detective novel.”
Booklist (starred)

“Highly recommended for mystery lovers, readers who enjoy character-driven mysteries, and those who like seeing good triumph and evil get its just desserts.”
Library Journal (starred)

“Three Pines, with its quirky tenants, and luminous insights into trust and friendship...will hook readers and keep them hooked.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred) on How the Light Gets In

“A magnificent writer who deftly and sympathetically explores the dark desires, pains and joys of the human heart in each immaculately-crafted tale she writes.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer on How the Light Gets In

“Penny takes her mix of the cozy mystery and the police procedural to a new high in her enthralling ninth novel by merging two plots…‘How the Light Gets In’ sparkles, from its amusing beginning to its jaw-dropping finale.”
—Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun Sentinel

“If you have not yet made the acquaintance of Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of the Québec Homicide Department, now is an excellent time to do so. How the Light Gets In is Canadian writer Louise Penny’s ninth novel featuring the wise and wonderful Gamache… Intriguing plot lines, marvelous character development, and heavy atmospherics make this series a winner.”
Christian Science Monitor

“One of the best Canadian crime series goes from strength to strength… Marvelous.”
The Globe and Mail

“Heartbreaking… surreal… We hung on after last year’s cliffhanger and, friends,
it was well worth it.”
—Salem Macknee, The Charlotte Observer

“A magnificent writer who deftly and sympathetically explores the dark desires, pains and joys of the human heart in each immaculately-crafted tale she writes.”
Plain Dealer

“With the grace of a master prose stylist and the generosity born of a kind heart, Penny again explores the mysteries of humanity in a novel that builds to a nerve-burning climax, engages the mind in an examination of sin and redemption and ends in tears of relief. Suffused with brilliance on all levels, ‘How the Light Gets In’ displays Penny at her beautiful and bountiful best.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Publishers Weekly
Complex characterizations and sophisticated plotting distinguish Agatha-winner Penny’s masterful ninth novel (after 2012’s The Beautiful Mystery). The devastating conclusion to the previous book saw Jean-Guy Beauvoir abandon his mentor, Chief Insp. Armand Gamache of the Quebec Sûreté, and return to substance abuse. Things have never looked bleaker for the unassuming and empathic Gamache. A corrupt superior has gutted his homicide department, and the agents he now supervises treat their cases with blatant indifference. Amid all this personal and professional turmoil, Gamache lands a strange murder case. There’s no obvious motive for why somebody killed elderly Constance Ouellet—the only living member of a set of quintuplets who were national celebrities in their youth—by striking her in the head with a lamp. Fair-play clues lead to a surprising solution to the murder, while Gamache’s battle to save his career unfolds with subtlety and intelligence. Once again, Penny impressively balances personal courage and faith with heartbreaking choices and monstrous evil. First printing of 300,000; author tour. Agent: Patty Moosbrugger, Teresa Chris Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Library Journal
This follow-up to the Agatha Award-winning The Beautiful Mystery finds Chief Inspector Gamache and the Homicide Division that he has created at his beloved Sûreté du Québec at their lowest ebb. His formerly top-notch division is tatters, his crack agents have scattered to other units, and his cherished lieutenant, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, has been set on a path of addiction and destruction by Gamache's greatest enemy, the head of the Sûreté. It appears that Gamache is being herded toward retirement by the forces arrayed against him. In the middle of this corrupt bureaucratic war, there is one more murder involving Gamache's friends in the village of Three Pines. And as Gamache works tirelessly to solve the crime, he uses the cover of routine police work to show his friends, his remaining allies, and, most of all, his loyal readers that he might appear down, but he is never out. VERDICT Penny's mysteries are really character studies. There is police procedure being followed, but the forensics take second place to Gamache's absolutely fascinating probe into the characters of every single person involved in the investigation: the police, the witnesses, and especially the suspects. He cares passionately about each person and makes the reader care. Highly recommended for mystery lovers, readers who enjoy character-driven mysteries, and those who like seeing good triumph and evil get its just desserts. [300,000-copy first printing.]—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is pushed toward retirement. It's a great relief for Inspector Gamache to get out of the office and head for Three Pines to help therapist-turned-bookseller Myrna find out why her friend Constance Pineault didn't turn up for Christmas. Except for Isabelle Lacoste, Gamache's staff has been gutted by Chief Superintendent Francoeur. Gamache's decisions have been mostly ignored and bets placed on how soon he'll admit redundancy and retire. Even worse, a recent tragedy (The Beautiful Mystery, 2012, etc.) has led his second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, to transfer out of Gamache's department, fall sway to prescription drugs and hold his former boss in contempt. En route to Three Pines, Gamache happens upon a fatality at the Champlain Bridge and agrees to handle the details. But this case takes a back seat to the disappearance of Constance when she turns up dead in her home. Myrna confides Constance's secret: As the last surviving Ouellet quintuplet, she'd spent her adult years craving privacy after the national publicity surrounding the birth of the five sisters had turned them into daily newspaper fodder. Why would anyone want to murder this reclusive woman of 79? The answer is developed through clues worthy of Agatha Christie that Gamache interprets while dealing with the dismemberment of his homicide department by Francoeur, who's been plotting a major insult to Canadian government for 30 years. Matters come to a head when Gamache and the one Sûreté chief still loyal to him and her husband, a computer whiz, are tracked to Three Pines, where Beauvoir awaits, gun in hand. Of the three intertwined plots, the Francoeur scheme is the deadliest, and the Ouellet saga will remind readers of the real-life Dionne family debacle of the 1940s. But it's Three Pines, with its quirky tenants, resident duck and luminous insights into trust and friendship, that will hook readers and keep them hooked.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Chief Inspector Gamache Series , #9
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt



Audrey Villeneuve knew what she imagined could not possibly be happening. She was a grown woman and could tell the difference between real and imagined. But each morning as she drove through the Ville-Marie Tunnel from her home in east-end Montréal to her office, she could see it. Hear it. Feel it happening.

The first sign would be a blast of red as drivers hit their brakes. The truck ahead would veer, skidding, slamming sideways. An unholy shriek would bounce off the hard walls and race toward her, all-consuming. Horns, alarms, brakes, people screaming.

And then Audrey would see huge blocks of concrete peeling from the ceiling, dragging with them a tangle of metal veins and sinews. The tunnel spilling its guts. That held the structure up. That held the city of Montréal up.

Until today.

And then, and then … the oval of daylight, the end of the tunnel, would close. Like an eye.

And then, darkness.

And the long, long wait. To be crushed.

Every morning and each evening, as Audrey Villeneuve drove through the engineering marvel that linked one end of the city with another, it collapsed.

“It’ll be all right.” She laughed to herself. At herself. “It’ll be all right.”

She cranked the music louder and sang loudly to herself.

But still her hands on the steering wheel tingled, then grew cold and numb, and her heart pounded. A wave of slush whacked her windshield. The wipers swept it away, leaving a half moon of streaky visibility.

Traffic slowed. Then stopped.

Audrey’s eyes widened. This had never happened before. Moving through the tunnel was bad enough. Stopped in it was inconceivable. Her brain froze.

“It’ll be all right.” But she couldn’t hear her voice, so thin was her breath and so great the howl in her head.

She locked the door with her elbow. Not to keep anyone out, but to keep herself in. A feeble attempt to stop herself from flinging open the door and running, running, screaming out of the tunnel. She gripped the wheel. Tight. Tight. Tighter.

Her eyes darted to the slush-spattered wall, the ceiling, the far wall.

The cracks.

Dear God, cracks.

And the half-hearted attempts to plaster over them.

Not to repair them, but hide them.

That doesn’t mean the tunnel will collapse, she assured herself.

But the cracks widened and consumed her reason. All the monsters of her imagination became real and were squeezing out, reaching out, from between those faults.

She turned the music off so she could concentrate, hyper-vigilant. The car ahead inched forward. Then stopped.

“Go, go, go,” she pleaded.

But Audrey Villeneuve was trapped and terrified. With nowhere to go. The tunnel was bad, but what waited for her in the gray December sunlight was worse.

For days, weeks, months—even years, if she was being honest—she’d known. Monsters existed. They lived in cracks in tunnels, and in dark alleys, and in neat row houses. They had names like Frankenstein and Dracula, and Martha and David and Pierre. And you almost always found them where you least expected.

She glanced into the rearview mirror and met two frightened brown eyes. But in the reflection she also saw her salvation. Her silver bullet. Her wooden stake.

It was a pretty party dress.

She’d spent hours sewing it. Time she could have, should have, spent wrapping Christmas gifts for her husband and daughters. Time she could have, should have, spent baking shortbread stars and angels and jolly snowmen, with candy buttons and gumdrop eyes.

Instead, each night when she got home Audrey Villeneuve went straight to the basement, to her sewing machine. Hunched over the emerald green fabric, she’d stitched into that party dress all her hopes.

She would put it on that night, walk into the Christmas party, scan the room and feel surprised eyes on her. In her clingy green dress, frumpy Audrey Villeneuve would be the center of attention. But it wasn’t made to get everyone’s attention. Just one man’s. And when she had that, she could relax.

She’d hand over her burden, and get on with life. The faults would be repaired. The fissures closed. The monsters returned to where they belonged.

The exit to the Champlain Bridge was in sight. It wasn’t what she normally took, but this was far from a normal day.

Audrey put on her signal and saw the man in the next car give her a sour look. Where did she think she was going? They were all trapped. But Audrey Villeneuve was more trapped. The man gave her the finger, but she took no offense. In Québec it was as casual as a friendly wave. If the Québécois ever designed a car, the hood ornament would be a middle finger. Normally she’d give him a “friendly wave” back, but she had other things on her mind.

She edged into the far right lane, toward the exit to the bridge. The wall of the tunnel was just feet away. She could have stuck her fist into one of the holes.

“It’ll be all right.”

Audrey Villeneuve knew it would be many things, but all right probably wasn’t one of them.


Copyright © 2013 by Three Pines Creations, Inc.

Meet the Author

LOUISE PENNY is the author of the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling series of 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. In 2017, she received the Order of Canada “for her contribution to Canadian culture.” Louise lives in a small village south of Montréal. Visit her on Facebook or at www.louisepenny.com.

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How the Light Gets In 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 169 reviews.
SharonRedfern More than 1 year ago
I would give this book 10 stars or more if I could. When I was approved for the egalley, being the mature professional librarian that I am, I went up to one of my coworkers who also reads the series and basically said “Nya! Nya! I got to read the book early”. That is the level of devotion that this entire series inspires in its readers. After the emotional ending of the previous book, I was prepared for this one to be heavy duty but I had no idea how much this emotion this book would evoke. I literally sat on my couch for hours barely able to take a breath because I was so caught up into the story. Looking back at the previous books, one can see all of the clues leading up to the finish of this book but it is absolutely stunning to see how they all come together. When this book begins, Gamache is seemingly hanging on by a thread. His agents have been scattered all through the department and he has a group of disrespectful yahoos working for him. But his enemies haven't won the war, only the first skirmish. Gamache still has some fight left in him and he has friends in powerful places. As in all of Ms. Penny's books, there are side stories that seem to have no reflection on the main plot but everything, I mean everything is important! Inspector Gamache gets involved in the disappearance of a woman who had visited Three Pines and planned to return but never showed up. As he digs deeper into her life, he discovers facts about her life that will surprise all who knew her. Readers over a certain age will remember the actual situation that inspired this story line and what a huge story it was in its day. Anyone who has followed this series will be crazy while reading this book, so just leave them alone and be prepared for a lot of emotion after they are done. While one part of Gamache’s life is resolved, the ending opens up a lot of questions about what the future holds for Gamache and all of us loyal readers!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I fluctuate in my feelings towards Louise Penney's books. Although her prose is always a delight, some of them are just too dour for me. After the last one, I shook my head and said, "she's turning into Ruth Rendell." (And one Rendell is more than enough for me.) THIS book, however, is wonderful in every way. I love Three Pines, and felt like I was revisiting old friends there, the characterizations are so vivid, witty, and full of heart. Ruth and Rosa will remain with me forever. The book is also intricately plotted, the various mysteries (both criminal and emotional) unravelled plausibly, yet surprisingly, and there is palpable tension throughout. Highly recommended.
Hypatia1 More than 1 year ago
This book is the best by far I have read this year. The last one in the series made me cry at the end - this one brought out many emotions and I don't want to say more and spoil a single aspect of the plot. You should read the books in order. I must admit I flagged the single one star review (which came out before the publication date) because I think this book desevres a perfect five star rating and that reviewer cannot have read the book...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache books, and was disappointed in her last one; however "How The Light Gets In" is terrific! She very adroitly balances two stories and brings them both to interesting and satisfactory conclusions. Anyone who has followed the characters in this series will be pleased with every aspect of the book.
kreads4fun More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book! I've loved every one of Louise Penny's Gamache books, but felt frustrated by the last book, The Beautiful Mystery. How the Light Gets In introduces a thrilling mystery, resolves a recent story arc, and also seemingly resolves the story arc that has run through each of the nine books so far. Penny's prose is lovely, as always, but this is a riveting story of history, loyalty, forgiveness, love and redemption. Penny's books seem to come out during my birthday week each year. She makes aging worthwhile, as I dearly look forward to her books. And while this book had the air of a conclusion, it also left the reader with limitless possibilities to reunite with a wonderful "family" of characters. I can't wait until next year. Vive Gamache!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't wait to read Louise Penny's newest book. I pre-ordered and kept checking on the release date. I couldn't put the book down and read it in 2 days (as one does have to sleep and work). As you read this book, you cannot help wonder if this is it, will there be another book after this on. Chapter by chapter, the author takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, one minute hopeful, the next minute dreading the ending. Even as I started to read the last chapter, I didn't know what to expect. I cried and still don't know if this is the end of the series. I love her books and the characters. I felt like I was sitting in Olivier and Gabri's bistro and listening to Myrna tell the story of Constance. Ruth showed us how a self-less act of love can let the light get in.
Dinia More than 1 year ago
These books must be read in order to fully understand and experience this and all preceeding novels. While murder most foul occurs and is solved, the setting of Three Pines and its residents soften the story line's violence. This is as much about discovering personalities and one's self as it is about the current crime. This is not hard core murder (which I also enjoy) but about people coming together as small villages do. There are twists and turns aplenty, but the characters are the real stars of this novel. Not wanting to label this as a "spoiler alert" I will only say that it appears someone's "door has closed" and I can only hope that another "door" will open in the next novel.
TzuKeeper More than 1 year ago
One of the few authors that can make me love the people in the world of her creation so much that I cry with their joys and weep with their sorrows. Thank you Ms. Penny for a book a luminous as Clara's paintings. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice read! An emotional drive so mysterious that you will feel your heart become dry. a good plot and character sketch.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
booksNartNmusic More than 1 year ago
In the beginning I was concerned because Gamache seemed to be loosing against the forces of evil and I was concerned for the strength of the character. The book takes up from the end of the last one about the monastery. But Penny didn't let me down and her cast of characters were all there in all their splendor. Lots of atmosphere to take you away from your everyday trials and frustrations. A good read. I hope the series continues.
Jean-Phillipe More than 1 year ago
There was a tiny café in the rural village in which I grew up in the 1950's. It was unique because it was decorated with photos, paintings and memorabilia of the Dionne quintuplets. I found it fascinating that a US family that had travelled to Ontario 20 years earlier would still be excited about those five little girls. So it made sense to me that Louise Penny would use the device of a fictional set of quints, and have her wonderful Armand Gamache mine the phenomenon for an amazing offering of human strengths and frailties surrounding a tragic murder of the last surviving quint. Of course, the story of the murdered quint is a secondary, albeit productive and entertaining story line. If you are like me, and were left unsettled and sad by the unresolved issues at the end of her 8th novel, you will be delighted that at the end of "How the Light Gets In" the grand conspiracy that has simmered beneath the surface of all her Gamache books is resolved. Although imperfectly, all the misfits and damaged souls find salvation. With some painful hesitations, the good people of her wonderful village of Three Pines find the courage they need. All these things are knit together with Ms. Penny's wonderful command of English (and enough French) and a truly beautiful sprinkling of humor. Oh yes, and it helps to find a recording of that wonderful song, "Anthem" by the incredible Canadian treasure, Leonard Cohen.
Lgdrake More than 1 year ago
I love this series. I only hope that this isn't the final book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful book. Reading the Gamache series of books in order builds steadily and surely to this book's culmination. What a climax! I sat on the very edge of my bed reading right through the afternoon opting to miss a final summer gathering of friends. Through all the wonderful books I've read, that magical, heart stopping drawing into the pages is a feeling I always hope for, but seldom get. When it happens, as it does in this book, it's pure bliss. Thank you Louise Penny. As another said and I agree...anyone who thinks this is a boring book cannot have read the series or it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was quite different from others I have read of the same characters. Very deep -kept you in suspense and wondering throughout. Feel many will enjoy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Discovering Louise Penny has been wonderful. After reading "The Beautiful Mystery" I had to read "How The Light Gets In". I was spirited away and became part of the read. Loved the characters and their stories....all woven together with a mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOW! I think this is the best book in the series about Armand Gamache and the wonderful Village of Three Pines. Louise Penny.gives us a murder mystery, political intrigue, suspense and excitement. I hated to put this book down. I have loved all her books and fallen in love with the people of Three Pines. I cannot wait to read Louise Penny's next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Beautiful Mystery gets continued in this lovely detective story with a soul.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in yesrs. Thought it would just be a mystery or a cozy, then it becomes an adventure with a tight cyber plot. Great job on this one. A bonus was it didn't insult my intelligence.
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
I enormously love reading Louise Penny. Her books bring cascades of tears to my eyes due to the friendship and love. Inspector Gamache inspires me to press on and not fold in spite of the odds. The story demonstrates what love and hope and loyalty will accomplish. I adore the ending, and know that the series will not end. Penny does show greed and corruption, but as the title implies, the light will get in. I would love to move to Three Pines and experience the camaraderie of a small village. Does such a place truly exist? Each novel brings out the whole village, but the story usually centers on a few of the characters. The reader can see each lovable character through Penny's writing. The scenes are laughable and sometimes bring tears. Will Yvette Nichol ever have a friend?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When reading the Armand Gamache Series, I would recommend starting with the first book of the series, if possible. Our having visited Quebec has made all her books in this series all that more interesting.
exerciseat63 More than 1 year ago
I could not put the book down. Maybe her best. I've read the whole series. Can't wait for her next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed. I love her writing and her books,but I found this one a bit confusing and I didn't get into the story as much as I have with her others. I will however buy her next book because I love the way she writes and her characters.
AKmysteryfan More than 1 year ago
I love this series and I loved this book. So glad they went back to Three Pines for the setting. Louise Penny describes her characters so clearly that they seem like old friends, though I would have liked to have more involvement by the locals just so I could find out how they are doing. My only problem is that it might be the last book in the series. And if it is, how will we ever find out about Clara and Peter?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Penney never ceases to please her readers. Her characters never change their personalities, only are developed deeper. It is a joy to read riveting mysteries without sex or graphic deaths. I can't recommend her books enough. They are a MUST for your library.