Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Review: How the Light Gets in - Louise Penny

Louise Penny is so good that I now get scared when she publishes a new book in this series. I find myself worrying that at last she may have stumbled and, as is the case with so many writers of series, she might be losing her touch. FEAR NOT. The latest installment of the exciting, fascinating, and spectacular Chief Inspector Gamache series, How the Light Gets in, is every bit as good as any of the early entries. In fact, in my humble opinion, it's the best one yet. Penny just keeps getting better.

At the end of the previous book The Beautiful Mystery, the reader could be excused for thinking that poor Armand was probably on his way out. Certainly, the carefully built relationships with his team were in shreds, his family devastated, his reputation crumbling. How the Light Gets In picks right up with those issues and expands them. Gamache is actually questioning his own abilities. Has he become impotent against the evil forces at large in his world? Can he no longer be sure that his homicide unit is the best in the country? Do his friends and family still respect him? Will he ever find the answers to the current mystery?

Called to the village of Three Pines to help friends cope with a mysterious death, Armand Gamache soon finds himself involved in another of Penny's twisted plots. Along the way, he continues to act as if none of his troubles exist: he is polite, urbane, studious, thoughtful, and ever the gentleman, all the while he is grieving for his lost friend Jean Guy Beauvoir, his lost reputation, and his unit's lost agents (who have been sent elsewhere in the bureaucracy of the Surète and force fed a story of his demise and degradation.) Gamache is introspective, respectful of everyone he investigates, and takes his time carefully putting all the puzzle pieces together, always aware of when a piece is missing.

Penny does an exquisite job of contrasting goodness with evil, black with white, dark with light and hope with despair. Just when the reader is ready to dissolve into overwhelming grief at the end of a beloved character or the dashing of a hope, Penny takes a turn in the road to lead the story down another path.

This is storytelling at its best.

These are characters so real one expects to walk into a bar or library and find them waiting to share a story or a drink.

Three Pines is a village so well described that when the MMA rail company's runaway trains crashed, exploded and burned the town of Lac-Meguntic in the eastern suburbs of Quebec last month, I immediately saw in those headlines the village of Three Pines going up in flames.

How the Light Gets In is so well written that I had to force myself to hide the book when I finished so I didn't immediately turn back to the beginning to start reading it again. And I will read it again, and again.

Publication date is August 27th, and pre-orders have already pushed this one into its second printing. Don't hesitate--Grab it as soon as it comes out. Many thanks to Louise Penny for the advance copy and opportunity to review it. I wonder if there's a next one?

Title: How the Light Gets In
Author: Louise Penny
Publisher: Minotaur Books, 2013, ARC 406 pages
Genre: Mystery - police procedural
Subject: murder investigation, police corruption
Setting: fictional village of Three Pines - eastern Canada
Series: Chief Inspector Gamache novels
Source: ARC from the author
Why did I read this book now? Louise Penny sent it to me for a review. Who could resist?


  1. Louise Penny is without doubt one of the best mystery writers we have. I know when I see a book that if Louise Penny wrote it, I will love it. I particularly loved The Beautiful Mystery (so far my favorite of hers) and I'm anxious to read this one to see what will happen to Gamache after so many changes in his life and profession.

  2. Hmmm...I so hated the last book of hers I read, The Beautiful Mystery, that I hesitate to read another.

  3. Tutu! You are so lucky! I await each new Gamache book every year--they are so good! Just a couple more weeks to go!


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