Today, November 27, is circled in bright red on my calendar. It has been for months. You see, today is the release date for Kingdom of the Dead, book number 14 in Louise Penny’s series of Armand Gamache mysteries.
Here’s how addicted I am to these books. I slept with my iPad on my nightstand last night. Immediately on waking up, I checked and found the ebook downloaded to my Kindle app, ready for my reading pleasure.
Before going any further, I have a disclaimer: I wrote this yesterday and posted it this morning. At this moment, I’m curled up reading the book, as many, many other fans surely are.
I am a relatively new fan, having read the first book, Still Life, a year or so ago. My friend, Sue, deserves credit for getting me started. And once I entered the world of Inspector Gamache, head of Quebec’s famous crime-fighting Surété, I never wanted to leave it. I devoured books 2 through 13, finishing the last a couple of weeks ago.
If you have never read Louise Penney, you are missing out on so much. To borrow from several reviewers, she creates intricately-plotted mysteries written in elegant prose. She is a master at intertwining the personal lives of her characters with the crimes being investigated. Each book can stand alone, but the series features strong character development lines that make it advisable to read them in order. The reader continues learning more about a handful of fully-drawn recurring characters, who are surrounded by other fascinating characters who come and go. One of them will end up being the murderer, but good luck guessing who it will be. I am never able to figure it out until he or she is revealed, and then it all makes perfect sense.
This is how Ms. Penny describes the books on her website:
My books are about terror. That brooding terror curled deep down inside us. But more than that, more than murder, more than all the rancid emotions and actions, my books are about goodness. And kindness. About choices. About friendship and belonging. And love. Enduring love.
If you only take one thing away from any of my books I’d like it to be this: Goodness exists.
In this series, the setting is equally important as the plot and characters. More than anything, it is the setting that stays with me and keeps drawing me back. Three Pines is a fictional, almost a mythical, village. We are told it is in rural Quebec, not too far from the border with Vermont. Yet Three Pines itself is a mystery. It appears on no map; GPS cannot find it. Characters have to stumble upon it, or, occasionally, follow a resident to find it. Here is what the author says about it:
Some might argue that Three Pines itself isn’t real, and they’d be right, but limited in their view. The village does not exist, physically. But I think of it as existing in ways that are far more important and powerful. Three Pines is a state of mind. When we choose tolerance over hate. Kindness over cruelty. Goodness over bullying. When we choose to be hopeful, not cynical. Then we live in Three pines.
Today I am so incredibly happy to be back in Three Pines. I’ll be in touch again soon… but not until I finish the book.