Pick of the Week: How the Light Gets In
Mystery writer Louise Penny
I must confess: I adore Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series. I want to move to Three Pines, the imaginary, serene village in Quebec that somehow ends up having an unusual number of murder investigations. I want to eat in the bistro and stay at the inn and shop in the bookstore. I want to argue and share insults with Ruth, the local curmudgeonly poet. Most importantly, I want to have deep conversations over a café au lait with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, Penny’s thoughtful, compassionate protagonist.
A great novelist transports the reader into a fictional world with characters who are unforgettable. That’s exactly what Penny has done with her wonderful world in Quebec. Although Penny is considered a mystery writer, she also is a great novelist who adeptly studies the light and dark in her characters. She introduced readers to Three Pines in her first novel, Still Life, which I have placed in many library patrons’ hands with excitement when I find out they haven’t read Penny.
How the Light Gets In (publication date August 27) is the ninth and best book in the series yet. Gamache begins investigating a murder of a once-famous celebrity who also was a friend of the bookstore owner in Three Pines. While he uncovers clue after clue, he also deals with enemies in his own Sûreté du Québec police department who are trying to destroy his career. He faces the wrenching realization that he may not be able to help his former colleague, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, defeat his personal demons.
The writing is wonderful, the plot is intricate, and the character development is breathtaking. When I finished the last page, I said to myself, “Wow.’’ Many characters from previous books return, which is why I always encourage patrons to start with the first book in the series. How the Light Gets In will be among my favorites of 2013. I can’t wait for the tenth book so I can escape once again in Louise Penny’s vivid imagination.