When Armand Gamache accepts the position as the new head of the training academy for the Sûreté du Québec , he has to decide who will be accepted into the new class of cadets. He agonizes over one applicant that the prior head had denied. This tattooed, pierced, and surly young lady has a connection to Gamache that she is unaware of.
While in Three Pines, Gamache becomes aware of an old map found in the walls of Gabi and Olivier‘s building that shows topographical information but also has symbols like a pyramid, a cow, and three pine trees. The map is an oddity because Three Pines is not found on any other paper maps or even with a GPS. So why was this map made?
At the academy, Gamache fires several teachers, keeps one who is definitely his enemy, and hires the man who betrayed him and all of his officers while in charge of the Sûreté. At the same time, he gives four cadets copies of the map and asks them to investigate it and discover the secrets behind it. One of the cadets is Amelia Choquet, the cadet that Gamache was conflicted about.
What I really enjoyed about this book is the way it addresses one of the loose ends from the big blow up in the Sûreté in previous books. The cadet Academy is the last piece of a nasty puzzle that had pieces all over the service and was poisoning it from the inside. By rooting out the poison at the beginning of all of the officer’s careers, Gamache is making a change in the entire force while finally rooting out the last of the bad eggs. When one of the bad eggs is murdered, Gamache has to work even harder to clean up the other baddies while solving the murder.
I also enjoyed the intertwining of the Three Pines map with the Academy goings on. Introducing the new cadets but pairing them with older characters makes for an interesting blend of old and new. As always the quirky villagers add a touch of humor to a serious mystery but they are also part of a sad history that unfolds as the map’s origin gets uncovered.
Ms. Penny’s books are just so wonderful to read. I found myself reading this one until 2:30AM on a work night because I just could not stop reading it! There are so many little twists and turns but also familiar characters to revisit and new ones to wonder about. This book is a wonderful mix of mystery, police procedural, and a down home with the family kind of vibe.