"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 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 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 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.
I am new to this series, so I read this book as a novel in its own right with no previous knowledge of the rest of the series. It was a mistake. From the reviews, I had the impression that each of the books could stand on its own, that the characters are truly amazing and unique, and that the plots are witty and intelligent. Although I saw a glimmer of these qualities, I have to say that it was unwise to read this novel on its own. Half the time I could not sort out who all the various characters were and had to consult online book reviews to get them all straight. The book frequently referenced past events which I was obviously not privy to, and so there were many times when I felt that I was fundamentally missing something. And although these factors definitely hampered my listening experience, they are not responsible for my 3 star rating because it was my own fault for listening to Book 9 in the series first. Mea culpa.
The publisher's description of this book is misleading. The major plot concerns a police conspiracy, and the story of the murdered woman is a subplot. The police conspiracy bit was dull, predictable, and and at odds with the subplot in nature and tone - they did not go well together.
The subplot about the murdered woman was engaging, unique, fun, witty, and inspired. I kept listening partly because I so much wanted to know how that storyline would unfold. Had more space been devoted to that story, I think the rest of the book would have been so much more enjoyable.
I had read in the reviews that the supporting cast of characters were unique and fun - and indeed they seemed to be. The problem (from my perspective at least) was that they barely featured in either of the story lines. I did not get a good sense of them, except to glimpse their potential.
Despite my criticisms, I did enjoy aspects of the book. I grew up near the Quebec/Vermont border and the geography and warmth of the story pulled me in and made me sick for home. Ralph Coshom's voice - while clearly aging and halting - reminded me of hearing stories from my grandfather. In spite of my disappointments, this book really touched my sentimental side.
I have just begun listening to the first book in the series, Still Life, as I should have done from the start. Perhaps by the time I work my way up to How the Light Gets In and get more information and a better sense of the characters, my 3 star rating will improve to 4.
I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.
The entire story was well woven and the mystery remained a mystery for a long time.
The characters were people I knew from Louise Penny's previous books and altogether, this was a fabulous listen.
I had no books to compare this other than Louise Penny's previous books, as her writing style and material are uniquely Canadian. I found this the best listen yet of her books, though I loved the one about the monks.
I hate picking favourite scenes- just buy the book and listen.
No, I actually relished coming back to it over and over again.
This author is very talented and I am hooked on her! Inspector Gamache is someone I feel I know. I love Rosa the duck and crazy Ruth.
Addicted to books, both print and audio-.
I hesitated in buying this, because I didn't finish the last Gamache mystery; it just didn't interest me. This one, though, is gripping and nearly impossible to stop listening to. Louise Penny has done a beautiful job of plotting, weaving the two plots together, and cutting back and forth between them. She has struck a great balance of Gamache, the mysteries, and the Three Pines people. I love that Penny continues to develop the Three Pines characters. Going deeper into their pasts, as well as into the characters of Gamache and his team, is a major strength of the series.
This is the first Louise Penny mystery I've listened to; I read the rest of them, except for the last. Ralph Cosham is as close to a perfect narrator for these books as I can imagine. Now, of course, I need to see what else he has done. I love finding a great narrator!
The only bad thing about an Inspector Gamache mystery is that writing this good takes time! I bought this the day it came out, started it a day or two later, stayed up half the night, finished it in about 24 hours. Now I have wait just about forever for another Louise Penny book.
A one-sentence summary of the entire series:
On her website, Louise Penny says that the one thing she wants readers to take away is this: "Goodness exists."
WARNING: You absolutely MUST read this series in order, or the characters and situations will not make sense. One reason readers keep coming back for more is that the books are built around "real" people who grow and change, suffer serious consequences for bad decisions, enter and break relationships, develop some very odd eccetricities.
This volume finds Inspector Gamache involved with a death in Montreal that takes him back to Three Pines in the Christmas season. His carefully built detective division has been dismantled, cutting him off from his usual cade of hand-picked associates. Conspiracty, frustration, sadness and anxiety pile up as Gamache tries to untangle historical threads on several fronts.
As for the narration, it is unthinkable that anyone but Raoph Cosham could read a Three Pnes story -- he IS Inspector Gamache!
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