If you are in the mood for a good mystery, with a Canadian flavour, read this book. The setting is winter in Quebec, the protagonist is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache – ninth in the series, but the first one I have read.
There are multiple plots – which I love. It is filled with emotion, the characters so well defined I felt I knew them, the locale, the weather, hockey – all very Canadian. Like Donna Leon’s Venice and Alexander McCall Smith’s Botswana, the location is an active part of the crime and the solution. I want to shop at the bookstore in Three Pines and eat at the bistro and converse with these wonderful characters.
There are the expected politics in the workplace but that adds to the plot, instead of simply being annoying. The use of the Champlain Bridge in Montreal and driving through the Eastern Townships ring very true. The Inspector himself embodies the Surete motto of Service, Integrity and Justice and the ending has an interesting twist.
Constance Pineault comes to Three Pines to visit a friend and loves the community and its people. She makes plans with Myrna to return at Christmas. Four days later she is found dead in her home in Montreal, murdered. Gamach quickly discovers that Constance Pineault is not her real name – she has a past and a secret and this is only the sub-plot!
Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie and I know I will certainly be reading more by this great mystery writer.
The themes of Penny’s books are inspired by two lines from a poem by W. H. Auden: “Goodness existed, that was the new knowledge/ his terror had to blow itself quite out to let him see it.”