Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

--Leonard Cohen

The latest Inspector Gamache mystery takes place during snowy December in Three Pines, a Quebec mountain village secluded by heavy forests. It’s a place where Wifi and cell phones don’t connect, and “where phones are still attached to the walls.” But now this snow-globe pretty place is shattered by a crack, and that crack’s name is murder.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté de Québec is asked to go to Three Pines by a friend to check on an elderly woman who has not shown up for an arranged holiday visit. The septuagenarian, named Constance Pineault, is found dead, head bashed in, on her bedroom floor. But it turns out that Pineault was not always her name, it was Ouellet, and she was the last surviving member of the famous Ouellet quintuplets. The author modeled these quints after the real-life Dionne sisters, who were born in Ontario in the 1930s and who were the first quintuplets known to survive their infancy.

The Dionne quints, like the Ouellet sisters, were made wards of the government, turned into a national tourist attraction and, as soon as they were able, retreated from public life and hid from the media. But once her body is found and her true identify discovered, Constance Ouellet is back in the news, and Gamache has set out to find her killer. In a storyline running parallel, which also is part of an arc from the previous book in the series, most of the Chief Inspector’s top agents have left the Homicide Department, and he finds himself in a hostile work environment. But living a life of all work and no play definitely does not make Gamache a dull boy, and readers will enjoy how he ping pongs from one crime to another.

How the Light Gets In is the ninth book in Penny's Inspector Gamache series; the first was A Still Life, written in 2008.

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