Maybe this book isn't itself perfect (which one is?) but it's surely perfect as the temporary (one more novel is expected within this year) final of this serie. In 350 pages it wraps up the eight previous novels and takes to its natural conclusion all the loose ends that the novelist left back since Gamache appeared. (Well, one more loose end is left back but it will be the main plot of next book). Anyway there is so much emotion, thrilling, fun, poetry, caring in this book that I hardly have found the same in any other novel of a serie. It looks like Penny intentionally scattered previous books with bread crumbs just to make the other characters and all the ducks (we, the readers) to follow the crumbs, book after book, poetry after poetry, drawing after drawing, and eventually meet all together in Three Pines, where it all started and where it all (temporary) ends....Continua
The newest novel in the Chief Inspector Gamache series is perhaps the finest yet, which is high praise indeed. As the book opens, Gamache, head of homicide at the Surete de Quebec, has become increasingly isolated. Now “on the far side of fifty,” after three decades in the department the only one of his original investigators left is Isabel Lacoste, the rest having been either transferred out on their own or moved by Gamache’s nemesis, Chief Superintendent Francoeur, the most senior cop in Queec. But that situation has to take a back seat when he is called by Myrna Landers, the woman who owns the bookstore in the village of Three Pines, concerned when a friend who had just spent a few days there visiting, promising as she left that she would return shortly for the Christmas holidays. The enigmatic woman, Constance Pineault, had not returned, and Myrna, worried about her, asks Gamache to investigate. Therein lie the seeds of the ensuing parallel investigations. The rest of the novel concerns itself with murders and intrigues, both plentiful, going back over decades. Along the way we learn a great deal about lesser-known aspects of Canadian history, some more shameful than one might expect.
Gamache discovers that Constance, 77 years old, was in fact Constance Ouellet, the lone surviving member of quintuplets who had become world-famous upon their birth in the time of the Great Depression. She had for years hidden that identity and lived under her mother’s maiden name to avoid the spotlight that had always followed her. (The author admits to having been “inspired” by the real-life Dionne quintuplets, born in that same era many years ago.)
All the residents of the village are present, and the many fans of the series will welcome them: Myrna, a large black woman who had been a practicing psychologist; Ruth Zardo, an eccentric, award-winning poet, and Rosa, her beloved pet duck; Gabri and Olivier, the lovers who run the bistro and the B&B; Clara Morrow, an artist and portraitist; as well as Henri, Gamache’s German shepherd. Crucial but present only on the fringes of the tale is Jean-Guy Beauvoir, formerly Gamache’s second in command and engaged to his daughter but now in the throes of a terrible addiction to painkillers after the life-threatening wounds sustained during the traumatic events which closed the prior book in the series. Suffice it to say that I found myself literally holding my breath in the final pages.
The writing is never less than elegant. This book is going from my hands into those of my granddaughter, a big fan of Ms. Penny’s writing and a resident of Montreal from the time she started her college career at McGill University in that city as well as since her graduation, which I know will give her an even deeper appreciation of the book than my own.
As usual, the author from time to time includes snippets of poetry (mostly courtesy of Crazy Ruth), one such giving us the title of the novel: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” And the meaning of that couldn’t be clearer by the end of this novel, which can only be called simply terrific. And highly recommended....Continua