Thursday, October 22, 2020

A Trick of the Light: Louise Penny

The books in the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny often focus on murders and activities in the fictional town of Three Pines in Quebec. Two of the characters in that town are Clara and Peter Morrow, both artists. Penny has focused on their relationship in several of the mysteries prior to this one, and they are the main focus in this one.

In A Trick of the Light, a murder takes place in the Morrow's back yard, while they entertain neighbors and people from the art scene following Clara's show at the Musee d’Art Contemporain in Montreal. In the Morrow family, Peter has always been the prominent artist, well-known and appreciated. Clara has been in his shadow but now she is getting more attention than he is, and he doesn't react well.

The body of a dead woman is found the following day and Inspector Gamache is called in to investigate the death.  He is a friend of the Morrows and many other people in Three Pines, thus working on the murder is a bit awkward for him. Another element of the story, intertwined with the mystery plot, is the increasing strain on Clara's relationship with Peter.  

In previous posts on this series, I have noted that Inspector Gamache is almost too perfect, with no flaws. He is a likable character, a dedicated policeman yet compassionate. As the series progresses we learn more about Gamache; he has had some traumatic experiences to deal with. And he becomes more interesting.

Louise Penny is very good at creating characters we want to read about, and she has some new ones in this book that are very compelling, even if most of them are devious. She also continues to develop the main characters, both in Three Pines and in Inspector Gamache's team. This was a good entry in the series, and I enjoyed returning to Three Pines.

This book is #7 in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. There are now 16 books in the series, which means I still have quite a few of them to read. I recommend reading them in order.

See other reviews at Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan and Mysteries in Paradise.

Publisher:   Minotaur Books, 2012 (orig. publ. 2011)
Length:      351 pages
Format:      Trade paper
Series:        Inspector Gamache, #7
Setting:      Three Pines, Quebec,  Canada
Genre:        Police Procedural
Source:      I purchased this book.


Rick Robinson said...

Yes, this series absolutely must be read in order!

I liked this one a lot, and recommend it, but please, anyone who decides to read the series begin at the beginning. Yes, the first couple of books are slower, but necessary to meet the major characters.

I have, but have not yet started, the new one.

TracyK said...

Rick, I agree. It took me a couple of starts and stops to get into the series, but once you get into it, the stories are very rewarding. I have the next two in the series to read soon.

Cath said...

Yes, I know a couple of people who don't read these LP books because Gamache is too perfect. For some odd reason this perfection doesn't bother me. Possibly because I think he's 'too' tolerant and that annoys me a bit and thus he's not perfect at all. If that makes any sense. The next two books you'll be reading are the best so far in my opinion. Enjoy.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am amazed at she has written so many in around a decade. They are long book and intricate. She must be very focused.

Margot Kinberg said...

I couldn't possibly agree more that this series really needs to be read in order, Tracy. It's best appreciated that way. And Gamache is a terrific character, isn't he? As the series has gone on, Penny has added depths to his character that I think add much.

John Kerry said...

I have read the first one and am reading the fourth one, order often takes a back seat to availability in my case. One of the things I love is the setting, probably because I lived at one point in a small town in the Eastern Townships.

TracyK said...

Cath, I do know what you mean. At times Gamache is too compassionate, doesn't often get mad or irritated. And then I don't like badly damaged policemen in fiction either. I do like that there is more depth in all of the characters as the series progresses. And I am looking forward to the next books.

TracyK said...

Patti, I am also surprised that she has kept up that pace of writing, especially with the complex plots. Sometimes I wish they were a bit shorter. I like books more in the 250 - 300 page range. And they appear to be getting longer in later books.

TracyK said...

Margot, it is a combination of Louise Penny's writing skills and Inspector Gamache's character that keeps bringing me back to the books. In the last few books she has also included some minor unresolved issues open, that I look forward to hearing about in the next book.

TracyK said...

John, I sympathize with the need to read out of order, due to availability of books. In the first few books, I don't know that it makes much difference. This book is connected in some ways to books 5 and 6 in the series, and books 5 and 6 are almost one long story. So that is mainly why I recommend reading in order. However, with any of them, the central mystery can be read and enjoyed regardless of order. And I have noticed in reviews that many people read these in no order and still enjoy them.

How interesting that you lived in the Eastern Townships area. I don't know much about geography in general, or locations in Canada or Quebec, so I looked that up and I see how Three Pines fits into the area. I loved the setting in Book 4, A Rule Against Murder.

Katrina said...

This is a series that I've managed to keep up with, I'm always impatient for the next one to be published. I enjoy being in the company of the quirky characters and re-visiting the charming village of Three Pines, despite it obviously being quite a dangerous place to live in!

TracyK said...

I wish I had done that, Katrina, but I really did not like the series when I first read it. It took a few books to get hooked, and now I have to catch up.

col2910 said...

Not a series I'll contemplate reading start to finish, but I hope to try at least one of them one day.

TracyK said...

You should read one of the Louise Penny books one of these days, Col. A lot of people read them out of order, so I don't think it matters which one.