A good friend will help you move, but a true friend will help you move a body.”steven J. daniels, from “Weeds in the Garden of Love”
I know… I have a problem! I love a good murder mystery. Keyword: GOOD. I do not care for a fluffy mystery. I want something that’s as well written as the best literary fiction, with twists and turns I can’t figure out, and a protagonist (or two) who inspire me. I’m so lucky, because for the past 11 years, I’ve known about Louise Penny.
Louise is one of the best authors I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. She is so knowledgeable, thoughtful, and thorough. Her characters feel real, and have been developed over many (15 to date) books. It’s important to read this series in order. Louise’s wonderful lead detective, Armand Gamache, is everybody’s favorite mentor, uncle and sleuth rolled into one. He’s complex, and the author doesn’t shy away from complicated issues or characters. Gamache is thoughtful, just like his creator, and that makes the difference in these volumes. The stories take their time. Over the years, the world that Louise draws you into has become very real in my mind. Also, like most people, you don’t always know where your detective is going, and I love that.
The series is set, for the most part, in the imaginary village of Three Pines in Quebec, near the U. S. border. The village is so small it isn’t on most maps. The cast of characters who live there are funny, quirky, and believable. They are flawed and messy. Just like us. I feel, after 15 volumes, as though they are my friends. The books get better as they go along, and you get to know the characters intimately.
Ms. Penny’s latest, A Better Man, just came out last week. And, true to form, it did not disappoint. If you settle into this series, you will find yourself looking up from your reading and wondering, just for a second, where exactly you are. You’ll have to take a beat and re-orient into your world. They’re that engrossing. And, they’re a perfect choice to welcome a change in the seasons. So, I’ll leave you today with a wish for a fall and winter filled with the sights, smells and intrigue that is to be found in Three Pines!
Until next Monday, my friends! Have a great weekend…