For Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, the Québec Homicide Department has become an uncomfortable place. With his most talented agents now gone and most of those still remaining now hostile, he welcomes an opportunity to get back to his old hunting grounds of Three Pines. Waiting for him there is a case involving a woman whose last name alone would galvanize the world's attention, but he discovers that the problems at hope cannot be ignored. As Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series nears its end, it seems to gather, rather than lose resonance. Editor's recommendation.
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.
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.)
“Louise Penny's Three Pines mysteries are eminently satisfying due to their imaginative variety. The stories include scenes of Montreal sophistication and gritty crime contrasted with the idyllic setting of Three Pines. There's also literary appeal, quirky humor, and – let's not forget – murder. Here Ralph Cosham infuses his performance of French-Canadian Inspector Gamache with his usual warmth. Cosham ably captures Gamache's controlled musings and infinite patience, and he gives the policeman a signature style: a subtle additional syllable each time the contemplative detective begins to speak. Gamache is drawn deeply into the past as he seeks safe harbor from menacing adversaries while investigating a murder in Montreal that has ties to Three Pines.” AudioFile Magazine, Earphones Award Winner
“Penny writes engagingly whether you're reading her books or listening to them. An argument for the latter is that her characters – not the least being Gamache, the gentle, brilliant, introspective and beleaguered head of the Surete division – are enriched beyond description through the distinctive voice of reader Ralph Cosham” The Star-Ledger
“Narrator Ralph Cosham moves seamlessly from character to character, adding depth to each; his narration, coupled with a suspenseful writing style, make for edge-of-your-seat listening. Highly recommended for series devotees or fans of literary mysteries.” Library Journal, starred review
“An engrossing, well produced audio. The avuncular voice of narrator Ralph Cosham fully expresses the mood of wistful regret that permeates this ninth (and perhaps last) chronicle of Penny's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec.” Publishers Weekly
“Ralph Cosham narrates again, his voice now truly Gamache's and his pace perfectly matched to Penny's graceful prose.” BookPage
“Cosham's masterful narration places listeners with Gamache in this emotion packed series entry.” Booklist
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.