Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Long Way Home: Louise Penny

This is the 10th book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. At this point in the series, I have a hard time reviewing the books because going into much detail can spoil plot points of earlier books in the series. So if this review sounds vague in some areas, it was probably intentional.

Three Pines, a fictional town in Quebec, Canada, is the focal point for many of the books in this series. Gamache has retired to Three Pines. He and his wife, Reine-Marie, have purchased a home and acquired a dog and are living a peaceful, happy life. And yet, even though Gamache is not seeking more mysteries or investigations in his quiet life, one comes to him. Clara, a friend in Three Pines, wants him to find her husband. 

Clara and her husband Peter agreed on a one year separation, and after one year apart, they planned to meet at their home in Three Pines and have a dinner together  and decide what to do next. Peter did not show up for the dinner and she has been unable to locate him. She wants help from Gamache. So in effect this is a missing persons case. It should be simple enough but it doesn't turn out that way.

Gamache gets help from Jean-Guy Beauvoir, his former colleague. They keep running into brick walls when they try to find out where Peter has been and what he has been doing. Peter is the son of a wealthy family, but it is a very dysfunctional family, and Gamache gets no help in that area. 

Gamache does spend a good amount of time in other parts of Canada in this book, accompanied by Jean-Guy Beauvoir, his former colleague, and Clara and her friend Myrna Landers. At one point even Ruth Zardo, one of the strangest inhabitants of Three Pines, accompanies them. Clara and Peter are both talented, well-known artists; they met at the art school they went to. Thus art and its impact on people is a major theme in this book. 

It took me a long time to like this series. It was not until I read the 5th and 6th books, The Brutal Telling and Bury Your Dead, in April of 2020, that I became a confirmed fan. Since then I have loved all of the books. The writing grabs me and won't let me go, and I feel immersed in the story as I read it. 

I like the close-knit group of friends in Three Pines. When I first started the series I thought that they were all just quirky and sometimes obnoxious; now I enjoy reading about them. And the mysteries are always rewarding. Usually very complex and sometimes circuitous and perplexing, they keep me guessing.  

I have to repeat what many other reviewers say about this book. Don't start with this one; read the series from the beginning in order. Get to know the characters. Otherwise the plot of this one won't have as much impact.

Publisher:   Minotaur Books, 2015 (orig. publ. 2014)
Length:      368 pages
Format:      Trade paper
Series:        Inspector Gamache, #10
Setting:      Canada
Genre:        Mystery
Source:      I purchased this book.


Bill Selnes said...

Thanks for the post. I am glad you enjoyed it. I liked the Long Way Home. I found its exploration of what inspires artists fascinating. I found in writing about the series that I would just accept some comments would affect those reading the series out of order. What I did do for this book because of its close connection to the previous book was to put a warning of spoilers. I believe you will continue to enjoy reading the series.

Cath said...

Thanks for a spoilerless review, Tracy as this is my next Gamache book. I haven't read one in a while, maybe a couple of years, but you make this sound good so I must pop to the library and see if they have it. I was like you and didn't really get into this series until it was four or five books in. To my mind that was when it really turned excellent and I became properly attached to it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I really wish her plots allowed me to jump in and out of the books. I have read two and neither pulled me in enough to read the entire series--something I rarely do. But I think she is a terrific writer with an excellent sense of place especially. Back in the day I would have read them all but now I just don't have the energy. I am waiting for the series though.

Lark said...

Glad to know you're still enjoying this series. It's my goal to finally read the first Gamache book this year!

Margot Kinberg said...

I 100% agree with you, Tracy, about not starting the series with this book. In my opinion, too much of what happens relies on the way the characters have interacted over the course of the series, and what's happened to them. If you know have that background information, I think it's very hard to be drawn in. At any rate, this, to me, is such an excellent series that I'm very glad you've come to like it.

TracyK said...

Bill, I am sure I will continue to enjoy the series. I had wondered how Penny would handle Gamache's retirement, and I liked what she did. Now I am curious what the next book will hold.

TracyK said...

Cath, I remember now that you and I are at the same point in the series. I was surprised to find that it had been a year and a half since I read the last book, How the Light Gets In. In 2020, I read four books in the series, then took a break. I will be looking for a copy of the next book in the series at the book sale which starts in 2 weeks. If I have no luck there, I will check out online sellers.

TracyK said...

Patti, There are several series that I read all of the books that were available (and in order) in the years between 2005ish and 2010. Jane Haddam's Gregor Demarkian series, Jill McGown's police procedural series, the Inspector Barnaby books by Carolyn Graham, Deborah Crombie's series (although I don't care for the later books so much). But in the last ten years, I rarely read more than 2 or 3 books in a series. Don't know why.

TracyK said...

Lark, I hope you will like the first Gamache book when you read it. I thought the 2nd book was better than the first, and each book got better after that. But the characters in the town of Three Pines are strange; some people love that. Others don't.

TracyK said...

Margot, I really hate to suggest that books should not be read out of order in a series, because that severely limits getting into the series. But there are some series that just don't make sense without the background. I just read a Bill Pronzini book, the 26th, and you certainly don't have to have the background in that series, but it adds to the enjoyment for me to see characters changing and how their relationships develop.

CLM said...

Very skillful to have written this review without revealing too much! I think I have mentioned that I found the first book somewhat twee so although a friend had sent me the first two I did not have any interest in continuing until I drove to Quebec to meet my sister for a long weekend three years ago. I listened to David McCullough's book about Theodore Roosevelt on the way and had wanted a book set in Canada for the drive home. All I could find was the second Louise Penny and Armand captured my heart as I drove through Canada. But what a pity it didn't happen in time for me to visit some of the towns that inspired Three Pines!

Anyway, since then I have read the entire series and it cheered me up during the pandemic. This is my very least favorite, however, I guess because I never liked Peter much!

TracyK said...

Constance, I never felt very sympathetic to Peter either, and felt that Penny did a good job with this one because I was still invested in the story.

I am glad you discovered the series after not liking the first one. My experience was similar except that I am still working on the series. It is a shame that you did not get to visit the towns that inspired Three Pines, they sound very charming.

Kay said...

Yes, you did a good job with the review of this one, Tracy. I will admit that it's not one of my favorites in the series, but I've read each and every book and I do have my sweet spots. I totally agree with your advice that this is a series to read in order. I know that there are a lot of books now, but Louise Penny is so very skillful about building the story arcs and having her characters grow and change. It's still my favorite series ever. Cannot wait for the new one this year at the end of November.

TracyK said...

Kay, I am so glad I persevered with this series. It has good characters and plots. I especially like that it is set in Canada. Three Pines is a great setting, but I also like it when they go to other parts of the area. I already have four more books in the series, and looking to get a copy of The Nature of the Beast soon.