Book Reviews

A Fatal Grace (Three Pines #2) by Louise Penny

Sigh…the village of Three Pines…don’t we all want to live there? ‘It has croissants and cafe au lait. It has steak frites and the New York Times. It has a bakery, a bistro, a B. & B., a general store. It has peace and stillness and laughter. It has great joy and great sadness and the ability to accept both and be content. It has companionship and kindness.’

This is the second murder that involves the good folk of Three Pines, and brings Chief Inspector Armand Gamache back to their village to investigate. He is welcomed with warmth and hospitality. And let’s face it, what’s not to like about Gamache? ‘Though he was only in his early fifties there was an old world charm about Gamache, a courtesy and manner that spoke of a time past.’ His second in command, Beauvoir, quietly acknowledges to himself that…

‘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. And he went into the dark, hidden rooms in the minds of others. The minds of killers. And he faced down whatever monsters came at him. He went places Beauvoir had never even dreamed existed.’

CC de Poitiers was not liked, in fact, she was detested. So when she is bizarrely electrocuted at the annual curling tournament, surrounded by the entire village and no one saw it happen, there is no shortage of suspects who would have gladly finished her off! My only quibble with this book is the character of CC: she is grotesque, without any humanity or redeeming features. It’s very hard to care who killed her, as the world is a better place without her!

The setting is Christmas time, and the novel is filled with moments where the reader wishes they could join in; Christmas Eve traditions involving carols, midnight church and lashings of mouthwatering food and wine. Penny’s descriptions of these warm and convivial gatherings of the Three Pines community are in stark contrast to not only the prevailing weather, but the cold and bitter character of the victim. The weather is a character in its own right, impacting on everyone’s lives and movements.

Gamache has a team he trusts and relies upon. However, the return of Agent Yvette Nichol gives Gamache pause. He suspects that she may have been sent by his superiors to cause trouble, or worse. Is it to do with the Arnot case, which haunts Armand and about which we, the readers, know little, apart from its fallout leaving Gamache ostracised by his fellow members of the Surete du Quebec?

The books ends with a satisfying resolution, although several tantalising clues are left for the reader, letting us know that we will see the return of Gamache, but there is a dark cloud on his horizon.

Highly recommended!

Reviewed by Gaby Meares
Murder on a Monday Reading Group

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A Fatal Grace (Three Pines #2) by Louise Penny

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