Monday, September 5, 2011

This series just gets better and better!

“Hearts are broken,” Lillian Dyson carefully underlined in a book. “Sweet relationships are dead.”
But now Lillian herself is dead. Found among the bleeding hearts and lilacs of Clara Morrow's garden in Three Pines, shattering the celebrations of Clara's solo show at the famed Musée in Montreal. Chief Inspector Gamache, the head of homicide at the Sûreté du Québec, is called to the tiny Quebec village and there he finds the art world gathered, and with it a world of shading and nuance, a world of shadow and light.  Where nothing is as it seems.  Behind every smile there lurks a sneer. Inside every sweet relationship there hides a broken heart.  And even when facts are slowly exposed, it is no longer clear to Gamache and his team if what they've found is the truth, or simply a trick of the light. ( Overview from B&

I had the pleasure of seeing Ms. Penney at author talk recently, and she is just as wonderful to listen to as her books are to read. Her latest book is the seventh in a series set in Canada, primarily in Quebec and the fictional town of Three Pines.
One of the best things about her books is the extraordinary character development. The murder is always central to the plot but the interactions of the people involved in the situation are just as important. In this book, the people of Three Pines are like old friends involved in a messy situation. The murder rips open the scabs on relationships that have been damaged.  Some will re-heal and some appear to be beyond repair.  Ms. Penny gives just enough back story that first time readers will have an enjoyable read, but the long time reader will get the subtle nuances of the book.
Clara and Peter have always had a complicated relationship and I have always had a lot of antipathy towards Peter’s character. In this book, he is his usual jealous self but we see some of the history behind that and I felt some sympathy for him. Poor Clara finally has her own art show and then the body of her childhood “frenemy” turns up in her garden and takes all of the sparkle out of the occasion. Ruth, the town’s crusty poet, is her usual nasty self but in an almost loveable way in some instances. Chief Inspector Gamache and his second in command Jean-Guy Beauvior have made it through a terrible shared experience with their relationship intact. Or have they?
Every new book in this series is a treasure. This book continues in that manner. As a reader, I could not put the book down and when it was done, I was ready for the next one. Being obsessive about reading books in a series in order, I would recommend reading the earlier books, starting with Still Life. However, if that is not possible, a new reader would still find this a great book to read.
RPL Notes: This book is available in the Adult New fiction section.  We will also have the audio version in the near future.  All of the earlier books in the series can be found in Adult Mysteries,


  1. I love this series on audio. Narrator Ralph Cosham is amazing. I've only listened to the first three so far, so have to catch up soon.
    My review of The Cruelest Month is at

  2. I have not read any of the books in this series- but from your review I can tell that I better start them! What an interesting review.

    I found you through Book Blogs and signed up to follow you. When you have a chance- please stop by and follow the blog for my middle grade novel that I am hoping to get published.

    Take care-
    Jess- although I may show up as Fairday, the main character from my novel. I can't figure out why that happens and I can't fix it. :)