The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #11) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: August 25, 2015

Hardly a day goes by when nine-year-old Laurent Lepage doesn’t cry wolf. From alien invasions, to walking trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him. But when the boy disappears, the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true. And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal. A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, it is back.

Review –

A boy of nine who cried “wolf” one too many times is killed because someone DID believe his story about the “gun bigger than a house with a monster on it”. Suspicion falls on the father, who  turns out to be a deserter who fled to Canada to escape his involvement in a massacre the Vietnam War is a damaging factor in the credibility of the family. His wife, Evie, knowing nothing about his past, believed him to be a draft dodger. After he is arrested by authorities in the US, she goes to live with Ruth, the old poet, and her duck, Rosa.

As in all of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache books, there are multiple focal points and another in this story is a  local argument over an amateur play being staged in the village, with the intriguing name “She sat down and wept.”Gamache  is one of the few who is chilled when he recognizes the play as the work of John Fleming, a monster whose hideous killings led to his life imprisonment in the grimmest prison in the country and he urges that the play never be produced. Around this time, the body of the boy is found in a large cave that had been covered with camouflage netting for decades.

It is Gamache  who realizes what it all means after a metal monster resembling the biblical whore of Babylon is found curled around a huge artillery gun that has been buried for years in the dense undergrowth and that was meant to become a global weapon of destruction in Canada and the United States. What makes that more fascinating is that Ms. Penny notes that such a “super gun” did exist at one time and her account of its origin and invention is based on fictionalized fact. But the super gun discovery means that Gamache  is no longer retired and terror has come to the lovely village. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Bull

Members of the Canadian intelligence service arrive as well as a mysterious professor who knows more about the gun than he admits, and suddenly the sinister shadow of John Fleming darkens the happy little village.

The strange play written by Fleming assumes major importance when it is discovered that not only the firing mechanism but the plans for the gun are missing, and only Fleming knows where they are. Gamache  is willing to cut a strange deal with the killer in return for that knowledge and the murders in Three Pines take on massive importance. As usual, Gamache is the controlling figure of the book, leading readers to suspect that he is indeed far from retired and I suspect that if the next book he will take a job that will lead in back in the direction of law enforcement while still maintaining a quiet life in Three Pines.

I had the audio version and the last several chapters had me on the edge of my seat.  Fantastic book!

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The Long Way Home (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #10) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: August 26, 2014

Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec, has found a peace he’d only imagined possible. On warm summer mornings he sits on a bench holding a small book, The Balm in Gilead, in his large hands. “There is a balm in Gilead,” his neighbor Clara Morrow reads from the dust jacket, “to make the wounded whole.”

While Gamache doesn’t talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache’s help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. “There’s power enough in Heaven,” he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, “to cure a sin-sick soul.” And then he gets up. And joins her.

Together with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and Myrna Landers, they journey deeper and deeper into Québec. And deeper and deeper into the soul of Peter Morrow. A man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist, he would sell that soul. And may have. The journey takes them further and further from Three Pines, to the very mouth of the great St. Lawrence river. To an area so desolate, so damned, the first mariners called it The land God gave to Cain. And there they discover the terrible damage done by a sin-sick soul.

Review –

Five-star-feedback-on-oDesk

I thought as I read this installment of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series that I would rate it four stars but  that all changes within the last ten to fifteen minutes of the story. I had the audio version and it allows me to see how much of a chapter I have listened to or how much is left, it’s just one of the Audible apps’ features that I love.

Within the last minutes of the book a character from the village of Three Pines died, a character that I never really liked that much or became invested in, but when he died I cried, like big tears rolling down my face cried. It was a heart-wrenching moment and it will affect the entire village and especially the spouse, whose character I love. I applaud the author, Louise Penny, for her decision to kill off a person of the beloved village to make the series grow and expand.

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How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #9) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: August 27, 2013

A DETECTIVE
As a fierce, unrelenting winter grips Quebec, shadows are closing in on Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department and hostile forces are lining up against him.

A DISAPPEARANCE
When Gamache receives a message about a mysterious case in Three Pines, he is compelled to investigate — a woman who was once one of the most famous people in the world has vanished.

A DEADLY CONCLUSION
As he begins to shed light on the investigation, he is drawn into a web of murder, lies and unimaginable corruption at the heart of the city. Facing his most challenging, and personal, case to date, can Gamache save the reputation of the Sûreté, those he holds dear and himself?

Evocative, gripping and atmospheric, this magnificent work of crime fiction from international bestselling author Louise Penny will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

Review –

Five-star-feedback-on-oDesk

First I’m going to RANT – I wrote a LONG, INVOLVED  and WONDERFUL (if I do say so myself) review about ten minutes ago and was about to hit the “publish” button when my screen froze. In the past, the post auto-saved, but not THIS  time. Now my mind is a blank and I’m fuming. I’m going to have to calm down before tackling this again. #ihatecomputerssometime

OMG, this has to be the best of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series to date because it is  nail-biting suspenseful, plot driven and the back story that has been building in the last several books comes to a harrowing end.

The murder that occurs in this book doesn’t happen in Three Pines but does involve some of the beloved villagers. The last of five quintuplets  that was born seventy-seven years ago was killed and Gamache welcomes the chance to go back to Three Pines to solve it.

His Homicide Division has been gutted by his nemesis, the Superintendent and Inspector Beauvoir is a full-fledged drug addict now and works for the “bad guy”. His brain is so messed up that he doesn’t realize that he is being manipulated to hate his friend, Gamache, and also to become dependant on pain pills.  Annie broke up with him because he doesn’t think he has a problem and he thinks  that her father, Gamache, told her to break up with him.(paranoid much!)

The crime that sends Chief Inspector Armand Gamache to Three Pines is the murder of the last of the Famous Quintuplets born seventy-seven years ago. I’m sure the author was inspired by the real life story of the famous Dionne Quintuplets born in Canada in 1934. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionne_quintuplets  I love it when history is incorporated into fiction, it’s like getting a bonus.

Along side the murder investigation, there is the story of the evil Superintendent and his more evil boss(read the book to find out who he is) and their plan to bring down on the most traveled bridges in Canada. This storyline come to a harrowing conclusion when Jean-Guy Beauvoir has to shot the Chief Inspector in the back to stop him from opening the door to the schoolhouse and getting killed in an explosion set by the Superintendent.

The end of the story is more upbeat but I won’t give it away because it has been a long time coming in this series and you’ll just have to read the book  to see what I mean.

Fantastic book!!!!!

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The Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: July 2, 2013

No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”

But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.

Review –

This is the first book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series where a murder occurred elsewhere than Three Pines. The villagers of Three Pines played no part in this story what so ever. 

I liked that we were taken inside the monastery of Saint Gilbert -Entre-les-Loups and shown hidden rooms and secret gardens. The characters of the twenty-four monks came to life in their daily prayers and chores.

Jean-Guy Beauvoir was there to help the Chief Inspector and we find out that he and Annie, the Chief Inspector’s daughter, have been dating for the last three months but keeping it a secret. He is also off the pain pills and I was so relieved to read that. Jean-Guy is a great character and I hate to see the person he becomes when he’s popping pills.

A day or so into the investigation, the Chief Inspector’s boss (who is a real a**hole and hates Gamache) shows up at the very remote monastery saying that’s he wants to help. HA! He is there to mind f**k Beauvoir and see what he can find out about Gamache that can be used to take him down.

Unbeknownst to Jean-Guy he plays right into his hands and is tricked into taking Oxycontin  and almost overdose and Gamache has to take his gun and badge away  and suspends him because he is argumentative and refuses to go to rehab when they get back to Montreal. The Chief Superintendent overrides Gamache and returns the gun and badge to Jean-Guy and they leave together. I hated when that happened because Jean -Guy, in his condition, can’t see that he is being horribly manipulated. He has turned his back on his friendship with Gamache and that’s the worse thing he could do.

We find out the killer of the monk near the end of the story and it wasn’t who I thought it was so that was good, because I really hated predictable story lines.

I love this series and have started number nine and by the blurb I can see that things are going to get a lot worse for the Chief Inspector before they get better.

Five stars *****

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A Trick of the Light (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #7) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: August 30, 3011

“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.

Review – 

Another crime has been committed in Three Pines and the body winds up in the garden of Clara Morrow, no less.

It happens at a reception held at Clara’s house the evening after the solo showing of her art work. The dead woman is someone from Clara’s long ago past, a best friend who was really a jealous vindictive person. Clara is never under serious suspicion because there are too many other people who had more motive to get rid of the victim.

Along side of the murder story, we learn that Inspector Beauvoir is leaning heavily on pain killers to function while his body still heals from the shooting six months earlier. We also find out that he is resentful of the Chief Inspector for leaving him during the gun fight at the vacant warehouse. If he was thinking clearly he would realize that the Chief Inspector saved his life and then went on to capture one of the terrorists and then get shot too. Beauvoir has also separated/divorced his wife and now is wanting to approach Annie, the Chief Inspector’s daughter, because he has had a crush on her for years.

The crime is solved and all is well. The Chief Inspector orders Beauvoir to get counseling and at the end of the story Beauvoir calls Annie, but we are left with our imaginations as to their conservation. (I forgot to mention that Annie and her husband, David, are having trouble and are separating)

Five stars *****

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The Hangman (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #6.5) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: 2010

Louise Penny wrote:

l’ve been meaning to mention THE HANGMAN for a while. Some of you wonder if it’s part of the Gamache books. A very good question. In fact, I wrote THE HANGMAN a couple of years ago as part of GoodReads Canada – an initiative for adult emerging readers. The idea is to give adults who are improving their literacy skills adult books to read – so they don’t have to read children’s books. It’s a wonderful idea – one that started, I believe, in the UK and has since spread. THE HANGMAN is in fact a novella – written intentionally at a grade 3 level…simple words and sentences, but adult themes. It’s set in Three Pines and is a mystery featuring Gamache. But, it doesn’t really fit into the actual arc of the characters….sort of a ‘one off’. Hope I’m making sense. It’s also a fundraiser for literacy, and there are lots of wonderful writers contributing novellas to GoodReads and similar projects. It’s also good, I’ve since learned, for people learning English as second language – or after a stroke and needing to re-learn the language. So pleased to be a small part of this terrific initiative. I think your local bookstore can order a copy of THE HANGMAN, or other books in the literacy series, if you know someone who might like them.

On a cold November morning, a jogger runs through the woods in the peaceful Quebec village of Three Pines. On his run, he finds a dead man hanging from a tree.
The dead man was a guest at the local Inn and Spa. He might have been looking for peace and quiet, but something else found him. Something horrible.
Did the man take his own life? Or was he murdered? Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called to the crime scene. As Gamache follows the trail of clues, he opens a door into the past. And he learns the true reason why the man came to Three Pines.

Review-

This is just a very short story involving a hanging man in the village of Three Pines and it is written on a third grade level (see above)

Even though it is short, it still has the same “who-dun-it” air that all of the Inspector Gamache has and I enjoyed it very much.

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Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #6) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: September 28, 2010

It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society— where an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

Although he is supposed to be on leave, Gamache cannot walk away from a crime that threatens to ignite long-smouldering tensions between the English and the French. Meanwhile, he is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. ‘It doesn’t make sense,’ Olivier’s partner writes every day. ‘He didn’t do it, you know.’ As past and present collide in this novel, Gamache must relive the terrible event of his own past before he can bury his dead.

 

Review –

There are actually three story lines going on in this installment of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series and make for a roller coaster of a ride.

The Chief Inspector is in Quebec City on leave recuperating from a horrific event where agents he knew were killed, including one that we met in The Brutal Telling, Agent Moran. He was young, engaged, red-headed and could play the fiddle and Gamache left very closed to him. The author uses flashbacks in order for us to see how the kidnapping and murders occurred and it is heart wrenching. (I cried, of course).

The second story line is the murder in the  basement of the Literary and Historical Society of a man obsessed with finding the body of the Father of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain. 

And the final story line is a revisit to the murder in Three Pines that was told in The Brutal Telling. Gamache  is receiving disquieting letters from the Gabri in the  village of Three Pines where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. “It doesn’t make sense,” Olivier’s partner writes every day. “He didn’t do it, you know.”

As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive the terrible event of his own past before he can bury his dead.

All I can say is that this is the best of the series so far and if I could give it 10 stars, I would. It is a phenomenal piece of writing.

Five Stars *****

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A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #4) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: January 20, 2009

It is the height of summer, and Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are celebrating their wedding anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse, an isolated, luxurious inn not far from the village of Three Pines. But they’re not alone. The Finney family — rich, cultured, and respectable — has also arrived for a celebration of their own.


The beautiful Manoir Bellechasse might be surrounded by nature, but there is something unnatural looming. As the heat rises and the humidity closes in, some surprising guests turn up at the family reunion, and a terrible summer storm leaves behind a dead body. It is up to Chief Inspector Gamache to unearth secrets long buried and hatreds hidden behind polite smiles. The chase takes him to Three Pines, into the dark corners of his own life, and finally to a harrowing climax.

Review –

Another great installment of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series and again I had the audio version, thankfully, because there was a lot more French used in this story line.

We find out the back story of Peter Morrow, a beloved villager that makes his home in Three Pines and we can see why he is the way he is. His parents and siblings have to be the most dysfunctional people I have ever come across. We also learn more about the Chief Inspector and his father, who was reportedly a coward in the war (not true) but it shows the hurts that comes when people judge you and yours without knowing the whole story.

There is a strange child named Bean in the story and we never find out if “it”  is a boy or a girl, I thought that strange, but it doesn’t affect the story one way or the other. 

There is a murder of one the Morrow Family Reunion members and the who and how are a complete surprise.

I love this series and  it makes a very pleasant read or listen when the real world and it’s problems seem too dark.

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A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #2) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: May 15, 2007

Welcome to winter in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Quebec, where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas, and someone is preparing for murder.


No one liked CC de Poitiers. Not her quiet husband, not her spineless lover, not her pathetic daughter—and certainly none of the residents of Three Pines. CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone, right up until the moment of her death.
When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté du Québec, is called to investigate, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with someone quite extraordinary. CC de Poitiers was electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake, in front of the entire village, as she watched the annual curling tournament. And yet no one saw anything. Who could have been insane enough to try such a macabre method of murder—or brilliant enough to succeed?


With his trademark compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find the dangerous secrets long buried there. For a Quebec winter is not only staggeringly beautiful but deadly, and the people of Three Pines know better than to reveal too much of themselves. But other dangers are becoming clear to Gamache. As a bitter wind blows into the village, something even more chilling is coming for Gamache himself.

Review –

Five stars *****

Again, I was lucky enough to find the audio version so I didn’t have to butcher all the French names and places.

This is only the second book in the series but I LOVE it.

I love the chemistry between all the villagers of Three Pines and the area itself is described as “quaint”. It makes me what to be there.

I don’t like how behind the scenes a supposely best friend of Chief Inspector Gamache is putting a mole in his team to spy on him and try to bring him down and get him to resign.  I have my fingers crossed that he won’t get his way.

The murderer turns out to be someone unexpected and made a a great end to the story,

Currently looking for the audio version of the next book…

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Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: May 1, 2007

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

With this award-winning first novel, Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces–and this series–with power, ingenuity, and charm.

Review- 

 I stumbled upon this series one day when the most recent book was offered as a choice of the day on one site that I follow. It sounded like something I’d like but I thought maybe I should start at the beginning of the series so I did.

The village of Three Pines  in Quebec is the  quaint picturesque  home to people who have been there for generators as well as newcomers. There is a Commons area, a small business district and shop keepers, bakers,bistro owners and a B&B that serves brunch.

Jane Neal was an elderly retired school teacher who hadn’t an enemy in the world, or so everyone in the village thought. She was a warm generous person who also liked to paint (like an artist) but had never shown anyone her work until one day when she decided to enter one painting into a competition. At first everyone thought is was horrible and childish but the more they  studied it the more they came to like it.  Any way long story short, it’s because of this painting that she is killed, although we don’t know that at first.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is in his mid 50’s. Married to Reine-Marie Gamache. They have a daughter named Annie and a son named Daniel. He is  called in from Montreal and with help from the towns people the mystery is solved. He has a reputation for being kind and always doing the right thing and it’s that very fact that hurt his career the most. We don’t know the whole story but we know that he will go no higher in rank because of a past case. His co-workers, for the most part, idolize him.

I truly loved this story and it’s characters and I was blessed to have the audio version so I didn’t have to stumble across all the French names. The narrator does a fantastic job and I can’t wait to chase down the next book in the series.

If you can’t find an audio version and read a print or e-book form, there is a pronunciation guide that can be found at http://www.louisepenny.com/

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