This is Book Seven in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. Clara Morrow celebrates the opening of her one woman show in Montreal with a garden party back in the village. The morning after the festivities, she discovers the dead body of an old enemy in one of her flower beds. Inspector Gamache and his team are called to Three Pines (apparently the murder capital of Quebec), to investigate the death of the former art critic. While they uncover the uglier side of the art world, Clara discovers the uglier side of her marriage.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
Louise Penny was originally a CBC broadcaster who quit her job to write. Inspector Gamache is modelled on her husband, who Penny says is the most positive person she knows. The author often bases her books on a few lines of poetry. In this case, the lines are from the Leonard Cohen poem Anthem and read: “There is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.” This book is an exploration of dark and light and the term ‘chiaroscuro’ can be applied to the murdered woman Suzanne, who is sincere in her desire to make amends, but still fallible and vain.
While it was a little confusing to come in several books into a series, we enjoyed this novel. It was great to read a Canadian murder mystery and appreciate the familiar geographic settings. The town of Three Pine is clearly one of the characters of the book – the peaceful village where everyone goes for respite from the big city. The book series also celebrates the French Canadian way of life – conversation, and unhurried social gatherings with fine food and wine. Clearly the mystery stories are only a bonus – this series is about the opportunity to visit Three Pines, check in with its inhabitants and enjoy the idyllic setting of sunshine, quaint houses, and no cell phone service!