9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2011
Book 7, in the Chief Inspector Gamache series
In this story we are back on board with Inspectors Gamache and Beauvoir who are still on the mend and recovering from the investigation that went terribly wrong in "Bury Your Dead", this time they are back at a village made famous in previous novels, the fictional and quint village of Three Pines. "A Trick of Light" is more than a murder mystery; it explores the emotions and the inner struggle brought on by success and rejection, something every artistic painter has to deal with in his quest for fame and recognition.
The suspense begins with the violent death of a nasty art critic whose words have crushed the careers of many inspiring artists. The critic was discovered in artist Clara Morrow's garden the morning after celebrating the opening of her first solo exhibition at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. There is no shortage of suspects in this competitive field, the list is endless and is sure to include fellow artists, dealers, curators and critics. The case calls for the Sûreté du Québec's finest and who else but Inspector Gamache and his trusted team are given the challenge...
With subtle and sparse writing, the plot deepens in complexity when Gamache and Beauvoir assisted by Agent Lacoste delve deeply into the art scene and press to uncover its long-hidden secrets. The in depth investigation leads them to the inner circle of the AA just another layer in the mystery they have to deal with....At this point, Ms. Penny's smooth words spin the tale with so many twists and turns, the reader is sure to find himself in a game of intense speculation trying to stay one step ahead and guess who could be the guilty one.
Although the pacing may seem slow at first it slowly draws you in and once the story starts to gel you are hooked and will enjoy every bit of it to the last page. Ms. Penny is a master when it comes to developing warm and charming characters with unique personalities and complex relationships. She builds a strong atmosphere of soft suspense, the hard core details are left to the reader's imagination, however fertile it may be.
This series is an addiction for me; I follow it faithfully and always look forward to read what Inspector Gamache will be up against in his next case.
For any newcomers I suggest starting with "Still Life", that way you will start on the ground floor and develop a rapport with the characters and a better understanding of the culture.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
First Sentence: Oh, no, no, no, thought Clara Morrow as she walked toward the closed doors.
Artist Clara Morrow's first major art show in Montreal was stressful enough, without finding a body in her garden in Three Pines the following morning. Although uninvited to the local after-party, the woman is one Clara and her husband, Peter, had both known. Inspector Armand Gamache and his second, Jean Guy Bouvier transition from being friends of this small community's residents, to being investigators looking for a killer.
Between books, one could wonder whether Ms. Penny is really as good as all the acclaim would indicate. No; she's much better. Each book is a stunning testament to her skill and ability to both create a nuanced mystery while exposing that which makes us human; both our foibles and our capacity for hope. She has created the town of Three Pines; similar to Brigadoon as it doesn't appear on any maps. Yet it has become fictionally real to the point it's hard to believe it's altogether fictitious. Penny's skill at description applies not only to physical settings, but to people's emotions, and is filled with subtly, intelligence and depth of understanding, as well as humor..."It wasn't enough that they were English and had a prayer stick, but now they'd lapsed into pig latin. It was no wonder there were so many murders here."
Penny's characters are real, complex and realistically layered..."They got up his nose, to be sure. But they also got under his skin." One sees the impact of past events on Gamache and Beauvoir through each others eyes, rather than a third-party narrator and the balance of their personalities is so well done. Her characters are people you'd want to know; in some cases, they are people you'd like to be. She also has the ability to show realities in our own experience, albeit past or present and, possibility, help us avoid those things being in our futures.
Cliff-hangers are something I abhor. Yet again, Ms. Penny proves there can be exceptions to the rule as she does include such a one but, rather than with a sense of gimmickry, it is a thread, complete unto itself, providing a lead to a new, future plot.
The danger of reviewing Ms. Penny's writing is that one can tend to sound pandering. This is a series which should be read in order so as to become friends with the characters and immersed in the world of Three Pines. Yet I do feel a lack of words to do this book justice. "A Trick of the Light" is a sad, tragic, hopeful, beautiful book, rather similar to the art described therein--one can either glide along the surface of a good detective story, or plunge into its depths and acknowledge the dark depths while believing that the characters will find the light.
A TRICK OF THE LIGHT (Pol Proc-CI Armand Gamache-Canada-Cont) - Ex
Penny, Louise - 6th in series
Minotaur Books, 2011, ARC - HC ISBN: 9780312655457
on 22 June 2015
I’ve been meaning to read Louise Penny for a while now, a couple of years in fact. Every review of her books I’ve seen has been positive and I am always on the look out for a good murder mystery. I must have added at the least her last three books to my “to read” list but never getting any further. Eventually, I got round to picking a copy up. I am really glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Penny’s main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, is also the main character in her six other books, all written before this one. He is a skilled detective, with a skilled team. Older and wiser than many detectives I have come across he also has a solid home life and no major hang-ups. He is one of the main reasons I enjoyed the story. So many other “police procedurals” have damaged detectives. Gamache is not. As this is the seventh book he appears in, he also felt well-rounded and real, as did his second-in-command, Jean Guy – though he does have his demons.
Something else I liked was that Penny allowed her characters to do more than investigate. They spent times with their families and stopped to eat (some rather delicious sounding food). I also liked that, again unlike a lot of other books, this didn’t end with the murderer being almost indestructible and the police involved in some type of peril. Instead it was very old-school Agatha Christie with the cast of characters together in a room on a stormy night while Gamache reveals “who dunit”.
Definitely worth a read!
I recently chose Canadian author Louise Penny's new book, "The Beautiful Mystery", as a Vine choice. I'd never read her books - never even heard of her! - but was blown away by "Beautiful". The writing was superb and, as the seventh or so in the Armand Gamache series, she was able to introduce her characters to a new reader without seeming to bore readers of her previous book. I decided to read her backlist and I started with "A Trick of the Light", the book published before "Beautiful".
"A Trick of the Light" is set in Montreal where Armand Gamache is the head of homicide department of the Surete service. He and his aide, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, had recently been involved in a shoot-out in a Montreal warehouse where four fellow officers were murdered. The two - Gamache and Beauvoir - are finding their tenuous way back to police work after having been seriously injured. They find themselves investigating a murder-in-a-garden in the small village of Three Pines. Both the victim and the large cast of suspects/potential victims are involved in the art world of Montreal. Clara Morrow, an artist in her 50's, has gained success in a one-woman show in Montreal and the "after-party" at her Three Pines home has ended in the murder of a woman with a murky personal past. Gamache and Beauvoir use their wits and gentle questioning to find the killer.
The best part of the book is Penny's nuanced use of relationships in her story. Almost everyone in the rather large cast of characters has a past or current relationship with everyone else. Since secrets are exposed in the three or so days from murder to denouement, the reader has the chance to "know" a lot of characters. They're all interesting and the end of the book, while not coming as a great surprise, is reached in a very stylish manner by Louise Penny. I'm going back to read even more Louise Penny. Watch this space for future reviews!
on 1 July 2012
Clara Morrow, at age 50, is far beyond the age when most artists are discovered. Yet, on the evening this novel opens, she is about to enter the prestigious Musée d'Art Contemporain in Montreal for a gala solo show of her work. Clara's nerves nearly get the best of her, but she gets through the experience and is soon able to return to her idyllic Eastern Townships home of Three Pines for a celebratory party with her Three Pines friends, and artists, gallery owners and artists' agents from Montreal.
In the "friends" category are Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Québec Sureté and his second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Gamache and Beavoir have become acquainted with Three Pines and its quirky residents during their investigations of several prior murders. (Penny amusingly acknowledges the incongruity of Three Pines being simultaneously a place of art, friendship and warm hospitality, and a locale with a frighteningly high murder rate, by having bookseller Myrna describe Three Pines as "a shelter[, t]hough, clearly, not a no-kill shelter.")
The celebratory mood of Clara's Three Pines party doesn't last. Early the next morning, it is brought to an abrupt end by the discovery of the murdered corpse of a woman in Clara's garden. The woman is identified as Lillian Dyson, Clara's childhood friend who cruelly betrayed her while they were in art college. Clara claims she hadn't seen or heard from Lillian in over 20 years.
Looking at means and opportunity leaves Gamache and Beauvoir with a wide field of suspects. They must focus on motive, which reveals a huge gap between the type of person Lillian is widely reported to have been 20 years earlier and how she is seen contemporarily by her new circle of acquaintance. Gamache asks, over and over: "can people change?"
The search for Lillian's true identity is the key to the mystery, because only through understanding her nature can the investigators learn how she inspired murderous hatred and in whom. In the course of the investigation, Gamache and Beauvoir also confront the horrors they still live with as survivors of a deadly attack on their team the year before. The experience has affected Gamache profoundly, but it has not shaken his fundamental belief in people. By contrast, Beauvoir thinks: "The Chief believed if you sift through evil, at the very bottom you'll find good. He believed that evil has its limits. Beauvoir didn't. He believed that if you sift through good, you'll find evil. Without borders, without brakes, without limit." Though Beauvoir's name can be translated, literally, to mean "beautiful view," his actual view of people has become increasingly dark and embittered.
Clara's new-found success and Lillian's murder also bring to a boil the problems of envy and lack of understanding that have plagued her marriage for several years. In fact, envy is one of the deadly sins that is a persistent theme in this book, as greed was a theme in Penny's prior book, The Brutal Telling (A Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery). This is what Penny does best. Her mysteries are not about forensics, timetables, alibis or violent action. They are about the human heart and spirit; about envy, resentment and fear eating away at people, threatening friendships, marriages, partnerships and even lives. But they are also about love, forgiveness and redemption offering hope for change and a forging of new, stronger bonds.
In A Trick of the Light, we see Louise Penny at the height of her powers. She is a master of characterization; a genius at creating a world that we enter into and fully live in, and want to return to. This is the finest book I've read this year and I have no doubt it will deservedly win many awards. Highly recommended.
on 5 May 2014
Once again Louise Penny has written a fantastic book; Inspector Gamashe and the team are called back to Three Pines once more, this time to solve the strange murder of a young woman found dead in the garden of Clara and Peter Morrow. It is after Clara's solo show of her paintings in Montreal and she has asked many friends, family and emminent critics and art dealers back to Thrre Pines for a BBQ celebration. The deceased is or was an old friend which brings back some not very welcome memories for Clara or indeed for many of the gathered guests. Running alongside is the ongoing worry for Gamashe of the effect the factory raid is still having on some of his team, Beauvouir particularly and with such a public murder of this young woman, it seems that someone at the party had cause to rid themselves of her before she did them some damage. Lots of suspects, many clues and again, beautiful prose from this author. This is truely a wonderful series and I am so glad I came across it when I did. The trouble is it could almost spoil me for other books, almost, not quite!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2012
Three Pines - a hidden idyllic Canadian village, self-contained with a B&B, Spa, Bistro, general store, a second-hand bookshop ....and murder galore. If you enjoy Agatha Christie type whodunnits - this series is for you.
Chief Inspector Gamache is a patrician, gentlemanly detective with a motivated team (and some black-sheep) who comes to love the town and befriend the inhabitants. Apart from solving the crimes, he has his own problems back at base with professional jealousies threatening to discredit him and end his career.
Despite the idyllic surroundings, all of the characters have flaws: this makes them quite human and also provides lots of motives and opportunities for wrongdoing. I like this also because Penny doesn't have to ship in a "stray" character to be the murderer: it will undoubtedly be someone you know and probably like. I would strongly recommend that you read the novels in order - (1) - to build up relationships with the inhabitants of Three Pines and get some sense of who they are and how they have been shaped and(2) - not to spoil earlier novels if you go backwards as one particular plot line does cover the last three books.
I don't see a lot of stuff about Louise Penny in the press and I think most people still haven't really discovered her books. It's a real shame as I think she ranks very highly in the list of crimemwriters, and unlike many at the moment, has maintained an excellent series without resorting to "fictionalised" public news stories, changing the characters beyond recognition or making the plots ever more incredible.
In this novel, a woman is found dead in the garden of one of the Village's best known and loved characters: how did she get there and who is she? Is there any significance to the small Alcoholics Anonymous badge buried near the body? As Gamache launches the enquiry, the lofty world of Art and Artists is opened up and petty (and not-so-petty)jealousies come to the surface.
A satisfying read - with a couple of unresolved personal issues that will have you stalking Amazon pages for the release of the next book.
on 28 November 2013
I discovered Louise Penny and Inspector Gamache a few months ago and have now read all of her books in sequence. The characters develop and you really feel as if they are your own circle of much loved friends.
This latest and I hope not the last book is the best in my opinion. It brings together the culmination of the sub-plot that has been running through all the previous books. And what a climax! I wanted to know what happened next but I also did not want the book to come to its end because then I would have no more to read from this talented author.I recommend anyone who enjoys this genre to get into these books. They are written with such skill. The details and colour bring everything to life in sharp focus and the 'who-dunnit?' element never fails to surprise. A fantastic read.
on 17 June 2012
This is a marvellous book, number seven in the series, which enables us to renew old aquaintances. It reminds me of a trip home to see old friends. I join with others in urging new readers to start with the first book so that you get to know and appreciate the finely drawn cast of characters.
The murder is almost incidental to the exploration of the psyches of those involved, and the wonderful world of Three Pines. Without giving the plot away, Inspector Gamache finds the killer as competently as ever, and we are drawn in to the problems of everyone concerned in many different forms, but never definitively - we are left to decide for ourselves about someone's true nature.
This writer is very special.
I will be joining the queue of those hungry for the next instalment.
on 13 September 2015
Of all the books in the series this has been my least favourite - I still enjoyed it just not so much as the others. The reason being that so much of the storyline revolves around the art world which personally I found a bit boring not being an arty person! That said intertwined with this thread was a thought provoking insight into the world of alcoholism and the the workings of AA.
I do feel a little bad not giving this book a more glowing review having read the author's words in her acknowledgements at the end as it is clear that it is a very personal book.
I would still recommend this book especially if you have read any of the others in the series as it continues the ongoing storylines from previous books and it is a good read - as ever.