Sunday, October 9, 2011
Publisher Format: Macmillan Audio,11 hrs, 44 min
Narrator: Ralph Cosham
Subject: Murder, Alcoholism
Setting: fictional village of Three Pines outside Quebec
Series: Chief Inspector Gamache novels
Genre: Mystery-police detective
Source: gift from a friend
Louise Penny is so DAMN good that it's impossible to describe how delicious her writing is. I actually went to Google tonight to discover that it's only a 5 1/2 hour drive from here to Quebec. I'm ready to jump into the car and go spend a weekend wondering around looking for the village of Three Pines. Ms. Penny really does spoil the genre for anyone else. I will have to dive into some non-fiction to 'cleanse the reading palette' because trying to read any mystery or even literary fiction is going to be difficult after this one. Maybe a graphic novel....
The entire cast of characters from the Three Pines series is here, continuing to develop. There's a murder in a garden, and every single person in this cast of characters is allowed to rise to the top of the suspect pile for the reader. Her nuanced presentation of the psyches of these characters gives us as much meat as the physical forensic evidence when it comes to solving the crime. She weaves the themes of vengeance and forgiveness into the palette of the workings of the world of art and all the various players in the making and marketing of paintings, and overlays that with a stunning depiction of Alcoholics Anonymous and its workings.
The writing is so gorgeous. There are phrases that have so much descriptive power the reader has to stop to catch a breath. There are no extra words, but at the same time, she allows her characters the luxury of thoughtful contemplations that give us incredible insights into their motivations. Minor characters from earlier books in the series are growing in importance, and crusty, lovable, irascible ones are becoming more so. By this time in the series (this is #7) we feel these people are our friends, our neighbors, and we want life to be good for them. We want to go have a drink in Gabri and Olivier's Bistro. We want to walk around the park. We want Gamache and Beavoir to heal.
Although this is #7, Penny gives us a story that can stand alone, and a mystery that resolves itself only at the very end of the story, while leaving us with enough lingering questions about what's next for several of the characters that we're already panting for #8. Ralph Cosham gives us a melodic and cultured narration that allows us to absorb the unique cadence of Quebeçois.
If you haven't started this series, what on earth are you waiting for? If you're a fan, then grab this one...they just keep getting better.