It’s Boxing Day and the town villain, CC de Poitiers, dies in front of a crowd of people attending an annual curling tournament. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is quick to declare it a murder but solving the case will prove to be difficult. With so many enemies, de Poitiers could have been knocked off by just about anyone in the idyllic village of Three Pines, Quebec. Can Gamache uncover the truth?
I read my first Louise Penny Inspector Gamache novel roughly a year ago and enjoyed it enough that I looked forward to continuing her critically acclaimed mystery series. Fast forward a year and I finally got around to picking up book two. Seeing as it takes place over the holiday season, what better time to sit down and revisit Three Pines than in December?
Looking back, I rated the first novel, Still Life, four stars and while I rated A Fatal Grace similarly, I enjoyed her second novel over the initial series entry. Having gotten to know the characters before heading into the sequel, I was able to settle in a lot easier as there was a lot less world-building. As in the first novel, Penny’s writing is extraordinary for such a new novelist (although she was a long-time reporter for the CBC, so it is not like she didn’t have a good foundation) with many memorable lines sprinkled throughout like this one in reference to Gamache’s skillset as a detective:
“Gamache was the best of them, the smartest and bravest and strongest because he was willing to go into his own head alone, and open all the doors there, and enter all the dark rooms. And make friends with what he found there.”
I thought the mystery itself was well crafted, although, I had an idea of where it was heading about halfway through the story. That doesn’t take anything away from the set-up and pay-off however – just made me feel smart. Penny built enough suspects and enough possible motives to keep things interesting and moving quickly. She even brought in an unresolved conflict from the first novel that played out in the background as an interesting subplot.
I can’t see me waiting another year to pick up book three and seeing as Penny is still churning these out at a pace of about one per year, I need to move quickly if I ever hope to catch up.
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