A fellow bookseller “sold” me on the thirteen novels (thus far) in your Inspector Gamache series, at a quiet moment when we were both on the cash registers. She mentioned looking forward to cracking the latest one- Glass Houses- and had an expectant smile on her face and a gleam in her eyes that I reserve for, well, croissants. Later, at a dance studio that also boasts shelves for community book swapping, your name came up again, this time on the spine of a hardcover book, The Great Reckoning. “Louise Penny. Hunh-” I am not one that enjoys the adrenaline rush from books where unknown things jump out of the bushes, crime novel plots so twisty as to make one car sick. Once I started the literary mystery A Great Reckoning, though, I was riveted. And amazed! When I finished it and reached for Still Life, the first in that series, (and your debut novel) you had set up in Still Life for plot details that would not unfold until A Great Reckoning, #12 in the series. What??? What genius, what sorcery is this?? In addition to the ingenious plots, I’ve loved the characters of the Quebecois village of Three Pines. Flawed, nuanced, layered human beings, right there, on the page… people who know the value of community, who have such depth and complexity, who accept each other because of and in spite of it all, and who eat a lot of good food. Together.
Of course, there is also Inspector Gamache himself, whom you patterned after your own husband. He and his wife Reine-Marie love each other. Ahhhhhhh. As an added bonus, when the characters are in a jam or uncover some incroyable new clue, I learn a lot of French Canadian swear words. Merci, Madame, pour tout.
It is such a pleasure to go home after a long day and into the village of Three Pines, to mingle with the villagers and to see what the village, um, turns up. Thank you, Madame Louise Penny, for the hours and hours of quiet enjoyment you have brought into my life, the delighted, surprised bursts of laughter, and the feeling that in spite of all the not-good that can go on in the world, that people are, essentially, trustworthy and good.
À la prochaine, madame,