Archive for the ‘Three Pines’ Tag

Past demons resurface in Three Pines   Leave a comment

World of Curiosities cover

A World of Curiosities, Louise Penny’s 18th novel in the Inspector Gamache mystery series, is perhaps the most discomfiting.  It’s due, in part, to the convergence of the past with the present: old demons and new ones creating new threats.  With Gamache even more unwavering to protect his loved ones.

Years ago, when Gamache first took Jean-Guy Beauvoir, now his second-in-command, under his wing, their investigation led them to two young children. Their mother had been murdered. It evolved that the children had been sexually trafficked. Now adults, the two reappear in the inspectors’ lives. Gamache has always been supportive of the young woman and Beauvoir of her brother.

Penny alternates the time frames which provides not only the back story, but allows the reader to question each inspector’s assessment of the traumatized children/adults.

Meanwhile, a letter written more than a hundred years ago is discovered describing a secret room in the attic of the Three Pines Bookstore. Inside is a large, contemporary reproduction of an old painting. As Gamache, his investigators and the townspeople work to unravel hidden meanings in the artwork, another monster from the past emerges. This one determined to kill Gamache and those he holds dear.

In her usual style, Penny injects elements of humor while further fleshing out the regular characters comprising Three Pines and Gamache’s investigative team. The hunt to decipher the painting’s significance, the disconcerting presence of the now-grown troubled children and several recent murders make for a compelling, albeit occasionally disturbing, read.

A World of Curiosities

Four Bookmarks

Minotaur Books, 2022

390 pages, including acknowledgments

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Maddening Crowds   Leave a comment

In my effort not to binge read Louise Penny mysteries, I discovered I’m still not up to date on her oeuvre. The Madness of Crowds gets me closer. Written in the midst of the pandemic,  this novel incorporates an element of timeliness unlike most of Penny’s previous works.

Beginning with the loosening of mask mandates and the availability of vaccinations, the residents of Three Pines are finally comfortable venturing out to enjoy the companionship of family and friends.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is tasked with overseeing security at a nearby university for a controversial speaker. Professor Abigail Robinson believes the pandemic demonstrated the need to euthanize the physically weak and mentally feeble but otherwise healthy human beings. Her thesis slowly gains attention from supporters and detractors.

The usual cast of characters is featured, including Gamache’s family, his closet colleagues Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Isabelle Lacoste, along with the quirky, but endearing residents, of the serene, isolated village of Three Pines. Added to the mix are Robinson, her assistant, the university’s chancellor and a Sudanese refugee being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize.

No Gamache tale would be complete without plenty of intrigue. In this case several issues arise, in addition to that of euthanizing, there’s murder, defending free speech,  family secrets, tortuous mental health treatments and how far one has – or might have –  to go to protect a loved one.

The murder investigation is at the forefront, but everything else is always near the surface.

The Madness of Crowds

Four Bookmarks

Minotaur Books,  2021

436 pages, including acknowledgements