11 January 2012

Review: A TRICK OF THE LIGHT, Louise Penny

  • Published by Sphere 2011
  • 404 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-84744-426-4
  • source: my local library
  • #7 in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series
Synopsis (author's site)

“Hearts are broken,” Lillian Dyson carefully underlined in a book. “Sweet relationships are dead.”
But now Lillian herself is dead. Found among the bleeding hearts and lilacs of Clara Morrow's garden in Three Pines, shattering the celebrations of Clara's solo show at the famed Musée in Montreal. Chief Inspector Gamache, the head of homicide at the Sûreté du Québec, is called to the tiny Quebec village and there he finds the art world gathered, and with it a world of shading and nuance, a world of shadow and light. Where nothing is as it seems. Behind every smile there lurks a sneer. Inside every sweet relationship there hides a broken heart. And even when facts are slowly exposed, it is no longer clear to Gamache and his team if what they've found is the truth, or simply a trick of the light.

My take

The tranquillity of the little Canadian village of Three Pines is again shattered by murder. The artist Clara Morrow is celebrating her successful art exhibition with a party but others in the village and the investigative team are recovering from cataclysmic events, detailed in earlier books, that have changed their relationships forever. The threads of continuity that come from earlier titles in the series do mean that, if you are new to the series, you should read them in order. But if someone gave you A TRICK OF THE LIGHT for Christmas do read it now. But I guarantee you'll want to go looking for the first in the series and then read them in order.

What I love about the Penny books is the way that while the murder mystery central to the story is being explored and investigated, background material and evidence researched and assembled, other questions are posed for us to think about. There is the meaning of the title for example, but I won't discuss that here because it is introduced quite early in the book. Another question is whether someone can change in character or is a nasty vindictive person always nasty and vindictive?

The brilliantly drawn characters are part of what attracts me to this series too, and the nature of the relationships between them. As you read the series different characters are explored and embellished novel by novel. Six months have elapsed since BURY YOUR DEAD in which both Armand Gamache and his assistant Jean Guy Beauvoir were critically wounded and lost four young colleagues. Gamache appears to have made a complete recovery but Jean Guy is not doing so well.  The relationships between Gamache and his team and the residents of Three Pines provide great tension points in the novels too. Gamache has visited the village of Three Pines so often that he regards most of them as friends, and they him, and so when another murder occurs the issue of whether friendship will obscure good judgement in a police investigation comes to the surface again.

You can probably gather that I really enjoyed A TRICK OF THE LIGHT.
My rating 5.0

Other reviews to follow up:
A TRICK OF THE LIGHT was recently shortlisted in the Mystery category of the Indie Literary Awards.

Other reviews on MiP of Louise Penny books
4.8, THE CRUELLEST MONTH
4.9, A RULE AGAINST MURDER
4.9, THE BRUTAL TELLING
5.0, BURY YOUR DEAD 

Chief Inspector Gamache (list per Fantastic Fiction)
1. Still Life (2005)
2. Dead Cold (2006)
     aka A Fatal Grace
3. The Cruellest Month (2007)
4. The Murder Stone (2008)
     aka A Rule Against Murder
5. The Brutal Telling (2009)
6. Bury Your Dead (2010)
7. A Trick of the Light (2011)
The Hangman (2011) 

Louise Penny's blog 

6 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for an excellent review. I have to say that I'm a Penny fan, too, and I agree 100% that the evolving relationships are really appealing. It's a great series.

Bill Selnes said...

Kerrie: I thought it was a very good book. I thought Bury Your Dead was her best.

Kay said...

This was my top book of 2011. Each time a book in this series is published I think, this is my favorite. And then when the next is published I think, no, this is my favorite. I love Gamache and always will, but I am discovering a great fondness of Jean Guy that may one surpass or at least equal my love for his superior. Hmmm....

Shonna said...

Great book. Every time I think I've read her best book she comes out with another one.

carol said...

I have to admit I'm listening to it now and was hoping for a spoiler or two. I do love this series, and I agree that it's mostly because of the characters.

Kerrie said...

I try to avoid giving too much away in my reviews Carol

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