For today’s AlphaBooks Blogging, I have chosen an entire series of mysteries by Louise Penny. She’s the brilliant creator of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, a most unusually gentle and brilliant detective living in Quebec. He stumbles upon Three Pines, a unique community virtually hidden from the world and populated by a funny, devious, and diverse collection of individuals who come to life under Louise Penny’s marvelous writing. These mysteries often start and end in Three Pines, a place with a remarkably high homicide rate. But it never feels contrived. I would gladly spend a weekend at Three Pines. greeting everyone as old friends but looking over my shoulder.
And then there’s death. Always a murder. Gamache and his assistant, Jean-Gay Beauvoir, along with other remarkable individuals, unravel clues and trace the roots of fear, greed, jealousy, and anger that ultimately lead to a violent end. Penny’s books are not only distinguished by her creation of characters who live and breathe, but for her insights into the roots of murder. Her clever plots make these books impossible to put down (no matter how late it is!).
I highly recommend that you visit Louise Penny’s website because she shares herself as openly as she shares the souls who fill her books. You can listen to her pronounce the French names and phrases, but even better, read about her own life from which she has drawn these books. No, she hasn’t murdered anyone! This is what Louise Penny says about the Gamache series: “My books are about terror. The brooding terror curled deep down inside us. But more than that, more than murder, more than all the rancid emotions and actions, my books are about goodness. And Kindness. About choices. About friendship and belonging. And love. Enduring love. If you only take one thing away from any of my books, I’d like it to be this: Goodness exists.”
Before I had read any of her works, I had the privilege of attending a book signing event for Louise Penny. She was gracious, humble, funny, and clever. Just like her books. I remember the audience asking her questions about favorite characters. It sounded for all the world like people gossiping about mutual friends. I was afraid the books would be a drippy, overly descriptive mash of odd characters with little action, so I didn’t start reading the Gamache series until recently. Boy, was I mistaken in that first impression! Start with “Still Life” (image above from Amazon) and you won’t stop!