The Book Goddess Recommends: The Inspector Gamache Series by Louise Penny

May 03, 2021 3:01 PM | Tina Maura (Administrator)

Do you love mysteries?  I have been a devotee ever since I was twelve and my mother recommended Agatha Christie. 

These days, one of my favorite mystery writers is Louise Penny.  Several installments of her Inspector Gamache series have been a most welcome diversion during my pandemic house arrest.

The first novel in the series, Still Life, was published to critical acclaim and several awards, and subsequent entries in the series have lived up to the first.  Her hero, Inspector Gamache of the Surete du Quebec, is a deeply sympathetic character – gifted at his job, happily married, with a strong sense of integrity and concern for humanity – which one can detect in his deep brown eyes. 

There are many reasons I am enthusiastic about these novels – they are beautifully written; Penny is especially good at communicating emotional states and moral ambiguity; and they have fantastic settings.  Many of the books are set in Three Pines, the world’s most charming village if you don’t mind the occasional murder.  But others are set in Montreal, which apparently has a pretty gritty side; Paris, featuring sculpture gardens, patisseries, and major white-collar crime; or a remote monastery with some of the most beautiful singing on the planet.  It’s not just the settings that are varied.  The plot lines are quite different as well, and often very twisty indeed.

Another reason to love the novels is the way they balance intense with cozy and a touch of humor.  You will encounter lovely food and drink, especially in Three Pines, but the struggle between good and evil is real and may involve appalling tradeoffs.  And there’s a really foul-mouthed duck.

I should mention that there is a long narrative arc about the personal and professional lives of the characters which carries through the whole series.  Ideally, you would read them in order.  I am notorious for not doing this, though I did read Still Life first.  As in real life, if you walk into the middle of something, you just do your best to catch up.

Here’s a link to the various editions owned by the Mandel Public Library (click here).  Or you can call the Reference Department at 561-868-7701 to place a hold or for even more reading recommendations.

I hope you will love these books as much as I do.

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

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