Thursday, January 1, 2015

Chief Inspector Gamache Series by Louise Penny

Everyone once and a while I run across a new-to-me author who has a substantial body of work.  That means I start at the beginning and read!  (And why I can be quiet for so long on this blog.)  I picked up Louise Penny's books because of coverage on NPR.  I'm delighted I did.

Penny's detective novels are richly written.  In each she brings in themes connecting to art, history, literature, and nature.  The solutions to the mysteries typically are nuanced and subtle portraits of communities, families, and minor psychological problems.  She does not typically include "mass-murderer" psychopaths as the antagonist.  Instead, they are the flawed human beings we run across in our lives who have just gone a step further than do most.

Gamache himself is a fascinating character.  He is physically imposing, loving toward his wife and family, but with some weaknesses and flaws that make him believable and admirable.  The approaches he uses to solving the murders are patient, methodical, and thoughtful.  Penny also uses a device in which the characters discover something, but she does not reveal the discovery until later in the book.

I have not visited Quebec, the settings of her novels, but will as soon as life permits.  In fact, I believe my first retirement trip will be to Quebec with books in hand.  Of course I will plan the trip for fall so that I may continue southward through the fall colors in New England and to Boston to visit Reverend, Doctor Nancy Taylor at Boston's Old South Church.

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