Inspector Gamache

I drove to South Carolina last week in the urbane company of Chief Inspector Gamache of the  Sûreté du Québec. My trip to Collection Development Mini-Conference in Columbia was the perfect opportunity to listen to the latest unfortunate incident in Three Pines, Québec, where murder seems to be a cottage industry.

A Trick of the Light is the most recent book in Louise Penny’s series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. For some reason, an awful lot of murders seem to occur in the rather small village of Three Pines, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. So many murders that Gamache and his team have become friends with some of the local residents–even the ones they’ve investigated as suspects.

The “trick of the light” referred to in the title refers to a painting. One of the Three Pines residents, Clara Morrow, is an artist. So is her husband Peter. But it is Clara who has been “discovered” after working in obscurity for almost 30 years. Her one-woman show at the famed Musée in Montreal is a rousing success. But the after-party at her home in Three Pines is ruined by a dead body in the garden. Even worse, the corpse belongs to an old friend turned enemy of Clara’s from childhood.

And the corpse was everyone’s enemy. The dead woman was an art critic. A particularly venomous one. And she was especially good at being venomous–a deadly combination for any budding artist’s career. There was no difficulty in figuring out who wanted to kill the woman. Everyone at the party had a motive. Including the caterers.

Escape Rating: A+ It was an 8 hour trip and an 11 hour book. I kept finding excuses to finish listening to the book. The central mystery is all about the art world, and I did get fooled, so points for that. And, and, and, there is a whole lot of neat, weird, sad and truly angst-ridden stuff going on with the continuing characters and I want to know where that is leading now. Now and not next year, dammit, or whenever the next book will be. I’m really worried about Jean-Guy. And if you’ve read the series, you know exactly what I mean.

In other news, Bury Your Dead, the previous book in the series, was recognized this past weekend with some more well-deserved awards. Mystery Readers International awarded Bury Your Dead their Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel for 2010. And, at Bouchercon 2011, the World Mystery Convention in St. Louis on September 17, Bury Your Dead also won the Anthony Award for Best Novel. In 2010, the previous Inspector Gamache book, The Brutal Telling, won the award.

Also, again, thank you to the person on the Letters of Mary group (Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell) for recommending this series. Which only emphasizes the importance of recommending books to people. I’d never have found the Chief Inspector but for her.