"There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in." (Leonard Cohen)
Christmas is approaching, and in Québec it’s a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. But shadows are falling on the usually festive season for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department, his old friend and lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir hasn’t spoken to him in months, and hostile forces are lining up against him.
When Gamache receives a message from Myrna Landers that a longtime friend has failed to arrive for Christmas in the village of Three Pines, he welcomes the chance to get away from the city. Mystified by Myrna's reluctance to reveal her friend's name, Gamache soon discovers the missing woman was once one of the most famous people not just in North America, but in the world, and now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone except the mad, brilliant poet Ruth Zardo.
As events come to a head, Gamache is drawn ever deeper into the world of Three Pines. Increasingly, he is not only investigating the disappearance of Myrna’s friend but also seeking a safe place for himself and his still-loyal colleagues. Is there peace to be found even in Three Pines? And at what cost to Gamache and the people he holds dear?
©2013 Three Pines Creations, Inc. (P)2013 Macmillan Audio
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
There are so many glowing reviews of this book that I wasn't going to write one, but I just can't help it: I have to write it. I so LOVE this book and this series. I love Armand Gamache and his wife Reine Marie and their wonderful understanding relationship. I love the village of Three Pines and its wonderful, flawed, loving residents.
When you begin an Inspector Gamache novel, you are drawn into his world. And when the story moves to Three Pines, the village embraces you like a huge, loving, comforting hug from Myrna, bookseller extraordinaire.
To my mind, How the Light Gets In is one of the best of the Gamache series, and is a welcome return to Three Pines. While investigating the death of a character clearly based on the Dionne quintuplets, Gamache is also preparing, with the few allies he has left, for a decisive confrontation with his enemies in the Force. As a result, the reader gets a healthy dose of all that's wonderful about Three Pines and its denizens, along with a suspense which grows steadily and inexorably toward the confrontation. Many questions are answered and many puzzles are solved while Gamache maintains his courage and integrity.
Ralph Cosham's narration brings it all to sparkling life, with never the slightest waver or misstep. I particularly enjoyed the conversation between Penny and Cosham at the end of the recording.
I agree with previous reviewers that the Gamache books should be read in order, beginning with Still Life. While you might enjoy the story without the previous details, Louise Penny's characters are so like real people, who have grown, made mistakes, learned things, and hopefully improved as people, that you will miss the full emotional richness if you don't have all that background.
I realize that if you're considering this book, like myself, you've already read every other Gamache novel. And, like me, you're a solid Penny fan. So I KNOW I'm going to take heat for this review. I'll try to make it as quick as ripping a bandaid off.
Let's start off with this: You're going to read this book. You will. You'll do it because there are a lot of plots from previous books that get tied up here and you want to know what path Jean-Guy ultimately chooses, how Clara and Peter are getting on, and whatever happened to Agent Nicole.
And going into this book, you'll be expecting the same fantastic writing that we've always gotten in this series, peppered with poetry and humor.
You're not going to get it.
Well, yes, you'll get the plot closures. In many ways, this book feels like the last of the series. You'll even get poetry and humor, albeit the poetry isn't new, we've heard it before in previous books.
The issue with this book is that you'll have to actually forget MAJOR events in the series to make this one fit. For example, remember in The Cruelest Month when Agent Nicole was getting phone calls all throughout the investigation from a mysterious person who wanted to know everything she and Gamache were doing? And how, at one point, Jean Guy attempts to take the phone from her because he suspects she's spying on the Chief Inspector? It was a fairly important part of the plot, it defined Agent Nicole and gave you some insight into why she behaves as she does.
In the same book, do you remember when a certain agent uses the bistro's laptop to go online to research the drug ephedra? He then leaves the page up on the screen on purpose to tip off the community about the drug they're looking for...?
Of course you remember all of that! It was critical to the story!
Well Penny forgot about it.
Now, as she writes it, Three Pines is a complete "dead zone." You can't get on the internet to research ephedra, and you can't use your cell phone while spying on your boss. And it's always been this way. Those previous books were all in your imagination. Yes they were. Don't argue.
And while in previous works we've seen our Chief Inspector use his ability to read and understand the motivations of people to solve crime, in this book we get something entirely different. Gamache is going to put together a team of hackers to break into the archives of the Sûreté du Québec. No, really. Gamache is going cyber-stalking.
And look. You're listening to this as an audio book, right? So you might not be a programming genius, but you at least know how to download a file and put it on an ipod or smart phone, right? You are likely not baffled by the mysteries of downloading.
Unfortunately, Gamache's team of computer experts don't appear to understand this concept. Nor does it occur to them to copy/ paste a file that they're currently reading.
The entire hacking plot-line required more than a slight suspension in belief. I hate saying this, I really, really do. But it was kind of ridiculous. I found myself wishing that Penny had written more about what she knows (characters, community, art, and poetry) and had left off the computer stuff for other writers.
So is this Penny's best? Her most brilliant writing ever? Well, with all respect to the previous reviewers, I don't think so. While I've listened to her other books multiple times (Still Life is my favorite) - sometimes just for Ruth's poetry - this book clearly doesn't have the same draw the others had.
I love ALL of Louise Penny's books and Ralph Cosham's narrations. I usually give 5 stars, but this is the first one where I thought --without a spoiler-- that the murder plot line wasn't probable (murderer's motivation) and that Beauvoir's private relationship, developed in some depth in The Beautiful Mystery, got wrapped up head-spinningly fast with a bow on top at the end. Such an important part of B's life deserved more handling, such as a plot line in a next book, rather than throwing it away by giving it such short shrift in this book and tacking the resolution into the ending.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
I really love this book! We're back in Three Pines for much of the action, there's an intriguing and touching mystery relating to legendary Canadian quintuplets, and the background plot line which has continued through most of the series progresses nicely.
Louise Penny has a great bag of tricks. She varies her locations, gives us more than one side to each character, and thus keeps us a little off balance with each new book. Who knew she could pull off a longish episode of cyber suspense so well? There's a lot of action (computer and real time) in this addition to the series. The wonderful cast of characters and the humor are front and center - add this to the usual spot-on narration of Ralph Cosham, and you have a very satisfying addition to the Inspector Gamache series. If you haven't read them, I'd advise starting at the beginning with "Still Life" and going through them in order.
You'll laugh and cry and want to move to Three Pines.
Louise Penny has the remarkable gift of intertwining a true mystery (and in this case two mysteries) with real characters whom she allows you to know deeply. I don't know how she does it, but instead of being an observer you feel as though you are there with them. You feel the brutal cold and smell the acrid sweat and taste the café au lait.
I absolutely love her writing style and cannot get enough.
Can't help myself - as much as I adore Gamache, Three Pines would be incomplete without the demented poet, Ruth.
I found myself laughing out loud during the very first chapter, and was deeply moved by the love Gamache feels for his agents - especially rude Nicole (whom I suspect is partially autistic)
Please give us more.
I have never before written a review of a book. What compels me to do so now? Simply put, this book is so glorious that I can’t help myself.
Because my work requires so much reading, I no longer read for pleasure. Instead, I listen for pleasure. And I have found no greater pleasure than listening to Ralph Cosham’s delightfully cadenced and evocative narration of “How the Light Gets In,” the ninth (and final?) book in Louise Penny’s expertly-crafted Inspector Gamache series.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon Ms. Penny’s first book, “Still Life,” and I was instantly hooked. With a wonderful economy of words, Ms. Penny consistently manages to construct a compelling murder mystery while creating sharply-defined characters and developing an ominous subtext that builds to a terrifying crescendo in her ninth book.
And yet, Ms. Penny is much more than a brilliant craftsman; she is a champion of the noblest aspects of the human spirit. Her books are permeated with a deep appreciation of art, poetry, music, and history. Her characters reflect our finest aspirations for friendship, kindness, love, and, most importantly, courage. Ms. Penny unabashedly believes in goodness, but she is not naive – monstrous evil lurks in the hidden recesses of the human soul, feeding in the darkness . . . until the light gets in.
This book was downloaded to my Kindle the same day it was available. I couldn't wait and am always sorry when they end. The setting is charming, the characters are realistic, story enthralling and Ralph Cosham is fantastic. I must add my agreement to other readers, listen to the series in order. This series is a gift you can give to yourself. I loved it!
Have re-discovered "quality time." Evenings listening to good books have replaced mindless tv watching. What a difference!
I was not overwhelmed by the last Inspector Gamache book (took place in the monastery), but whatever that one may have lacked, this made up for in spades! This was simply a blockbuster!
This book involves a complicated plot in which Gamache is apparently (and seriously) working on a tragic case involving the last of the famed Ouellet quintuplets (obviously modeled on the Dionne quints of Canadian history), seeking an answer to the murder of the last surviving of them. This is a compelling and poignant part of the book, in itself.
But Gamache is also simultaneously quietly working on a far bigger case: keeping intact the integrity of the entire Quebec Sûreté and preventing a huge disaster from happening. He knows that he is in personal danger as well--from his superiors that want him gone. By any means. He is never sure whom he can trust, and is always racing against time.
All of the qualites (race against time, the angst of feeling the raw hatred being expressed toward Gamache, the sense of trust and distrust, connections among the Three Pines residents, even the freezing cold of wintry Quebec) are so well characterized that, while my stomach was in a clench for much of the book, I could also almost feel the cold snow that provided the background, and even the fear and kindness that appeared among the characters--keeping the village of Three Pines the central anchor of the whole book.
A very important aspect of the story, is the relationship between Inspector Gamache and his beloved Jean-Guy Beauvoir, from whom he is estranged after a tragedy in a previous book. This theme is interspersed throughout the book, and evokes such emotional feelings in imagining the enormous disaster that has encompassed their closeness, that I found myself almost as concerned about this as the more prominent plot lines in the book.
Louise Penney is just an amazing writer. She has the ability to combine so many elements--of mystery, character development, spirituality, atmosphere, historical interest...I wish I had her ability to use words to praise her work!
And Ralph Cosham! Words fail again to try to describe the magnificent job of narration that he performs. His voice alone evokes the atmosphere of all the books. I've never read one in print--so if the narrator were changed, I would feel the entire work was injured. There is no Inspector Gamache (and for that matter, all the other characters) except that given us by Cosham! I wish I could offer more stars than 5 for his contributions. Penney and Chosham are a perfect team. Highly, highly, highly recommend this book!
Retired Ex-Pat living Near San Jose, Costa Rica.
Louise Penny may well be the best writer of modern detective novels... Ever. I have read all of her work... Incredible.
Don't hesitate for a second to jump in with number one and work your way up.
I am not thrilled with the reader, but the quality of the writing overcomes all... Even him.
Brilliant. The best one yet. Couldn't stop listening. Ralph Cosham IS Gamache. Couldn't believe it when I heard that he reads the books cold - no preparation, no rehearsals, no reading ahead to find out how the books end. Amazing!
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