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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2007 Agatha Award for Best Novel!

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 Quebec, 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.

©2006 Louise Penny (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Time to get lost and find yourself in Three Pines.

This is another great story set in Three Pines. It involves the murder of truly horrible woman, which wouldn't interest me had it not been for the villagers of 3 pines and Gamache himself. It's funny and just great story telling.

Here's a snippet from my first review of the first book in the series.
Let me tell you why I have fallen in love with the series.

Inspector Gamache is a smart and extremely humane hero. He doesn't have flaws or demons like Robicheaux or Hole, but he does share their extreme sensitivity in crime solving. And unlike those two great detectives, he doesn't resort to violence, or at least he hasn't been forced to yet. What sets him apart is the absolute devotion he receives from his peers and everyone he meets. His squad loves him, the community loves him and even his enemies respect and fear him.

The second feature I love is the setting. the village of Three Pines is quite literally a real life version of Narnia. It's filled with young and old living in cottages nestled in hillsides with one church, a general store and tavern. It is described on several occasions as a village no one finds until they are lost. It is never a destination, but once you've found it you'll never forget it. There's even a rundown mansion of sorts. The villagers are more like a family, in that they get along because they have too. They are rude, cantankerous, funny, diverse, talented and charismatic. There are poets, artists, drunks, gurus, Christians and atheists. In much the same way I felt when I read the Chronicles of Narnia, I find myself engrossed in the community of Three Pines.


21 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The Least Suspected is the Best Suspect.....

I really enjoyed most all of Louise Penny's Three Pines novels. I believe that I have read them all. This one was really intriguing. Maybe it's because I like the style of Chief Inspector Gamache. Maybe it's because I like all of the characters of the Three Pines village. It is difficult to write a review on this one without giving away too much. The synopsis written by audible is a good description. A despicable woman has been murdered in front of many potential witnesses but nobody saw a thing or they saw but are not telling! If you like a story that is more mystery/suspense and some thriller aspects, then the Three Pines novels might be of interest to you. The narrator, Ralph Cosham, is an excellent performer. He is the voice of Gamache for me.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kay in DC
  • Washington, DC United States
  • 10-05-14

A Lovely Other World

When I read the first Three Pines book, I found it a bit slow. I'm more accustomed to the noir of the Scandinavian thriller writers, the convoluted grunge of Tana French, and the literary stylings of Elizabeth George. I didn't know how to take the village of Three Pines.

But as I settled into the second offering, I began to see the village as a type of Eden, so perfect that it takes a while for the snake to be recognized. There are spiritual references in both, but they are more apparent in "A Fatal Grace" than in the first book of the series. I love the world that Penny creates where even the most benign and attractive apple has a worm burrowed somewhere inside. To counter balance that, the most disagreeable characters have something worthwhile peeking through the cracks.

I was able to figure out the whodunit part of this story before the end. But I enjoyed the journey, being led by the voice of Ralph Cosham, so much that I didn't mind.

I will do listen to more of these.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Everything Makes Sense

Like her first Chief Inspector Gamache novel, Still Life (2005), Louise Penny's second, A Fatal Grace (2006), takes place mostly in Three Pines, the idyllic little village which can be found only by chance or destiny (not appearing on any maps of Quebec). Also like the first, the second begins with a catchy first line: "Had CC de Poitiers known she was going to be murdered she might have bought her husband, Richard, a Christmas gift." But whereas Still Life opens with the murder of a universally loved local Three Pines woman, Jane Neal, this second book begins with the impending murder of a universally disliked outsider, CC de Poitiers.

CC is an outwardly cold, inwardly seething 48-year-old businesswoman, a cruel and insensitive person who believes that everyone is cruel and insensitive. The kind of woman who wears boots made from the skins of baby seals. She's just self-published a bogus self-help book called Be Calm, which will teach people how to find happiness by repressing all their emotions--if only the fools will realize the truth and value of her enlightened philosophy. But why did she buy the old Hadley mansion in Three Pines?

CC's lover Saul Petrov, her bought photographer, detests her for having frozen his vision of himself and the world, and is planning to escape her control. In addition to this unpleasant couple, we meet again the appealing Three Pines locals from the first book: Clara and Peter Morrow, wife and husband artists (he successful, she unknown); Myrna Landers, the only black person in town, an ex-Montreal psychologist who runs a used book store; Ruth Zardo, the prickly poetess who's just won an award for her latest book I'm FINE; Olivier and Gabri, the witty gay couple who run a bistrot/B&B/antique shop. And an intriguing new trio of old local lady friends, Kaye, Em, and Mother Bea, AKA the Three Graces.

Taking place about a year after the events of the first book, which the locals are still marked by, the second novel delays the entrance of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec, until Chapter 8. Gamache is a fine detective character: in his fifties, he is well-read, vice-free, happily married, and able venture into the minds of other people (even murderers) as well as his own. In addition to loving his work and his team of agents, he is always appalled by death and especially senseless killing. He imparts precepts to his trainees like: always ask when you don't know; never lie to me; listen so hard it hurts; and everything makes sense. Gamache is observant, experienced, wise, empathetic, and intelligent. He is also capable of mistakes, and his debonair man-of-reason second-in-command Jean Guy Beauvoir worries that Gamache is prone to trusting untested young officers (like the disastrous Agent Yvette Nichol in the first novel) to a potentially fatal fault--and he seems to be doing the same thing with young Agent Robert Lemieux in this book.

--As the first book turns on a Canadian outdoor activity/sport--hunting/archery--so this one turns on curling.
--As the first book is organized thematically around a single motif, stillness, this one is organized around calm (and its opposite).
--As the first book is replete with Quebecois culture, so is this one, like eating smoked salmon on X-mas Eve or fresh oysters on New Year's Day or managing extraordinarily cold winters or wondering about how uptight Anglophones are.
--As the first book is well-stocked with likely murder suspects and an unexpected culprit, so too is this one.
--As the first book deals with a self-contained murder mystery while introducing an over-arching back story concerning the Arnot case that nearly destroyed Gamache's career, so this one deals with a self-contained murder mystery while providing more details about the Arnot case, which is still not over for Gamache and lures readers to read future books in the series.
--As the first book is read by Ralph Cosham with his appealing, unassuming, and perfect voice and manner, so too is this one.

Penny is good at getting into the heads of her varied people (male, female, old, young, straight, gay, likeable, loathsome, Francophone, Anglophone, big city, small town, wealthy, poor, etc.), and rotates among many of her characters for point of view narration. Going by her first two novels, she does feel most comfortable (or want to spend most time with) creative people: artists, poets, designers, photographers, and so on.

If I were to find flaws in Penny's detective and community it would be that perhaps they are too good to be true. Gamache's mistakes tend to be errors of trust rather than of ethics or detective work, he is almost too good at coming up with apt quotations, and he even plays a rather heroic volunteer fireman at one point, while Three Pines might be too idyllic a mystery-genre town, too full of interesting, witty, and creative people, too apt to host murders. . . And really I suspect that in life as in murder, sometimes some things don't make sense. But Penny is a fine writer and mystery genre fans (especially those interested in Quebecois culture and the arts) should like this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A graceful entry into the Three Pines series

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

An excellent mystery with excellent characters. I was thoroughly invested in the entire plot.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely. In fact, I practically did. One of the best modern mysteries I have read.

Any additional comments?

To date, I have read or listened to four of the Three Pines mysteries. So far, this one is my favorite. I would, however, recommend checking out the first book, Still Life, first. There are spoilers.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

Loved each story. The characters came to life for me. I have been touched by each story and find it difficult to pause them.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 09-20-15

Gentle, Poetic, MURDER Case, Book 2

Chief Inspector Gamache just keeps growing on you . . . as does the little town of Three Pines in Quebec . . . with its quirky, artsy, grumpy, loyal-to-a-fault people . . . so wihen self-absorbed, cheating-on-her-husband, CC de Poitiers moves to the little village, along with her beaten-down husband and forlorn daughter, she isn't well received . . . and she's not long for this world . . . but who on earth would murder this woman in such a public fashion? In the middle of town for all to see? Just doesn't add up . . . with his usual polish and poetic thoughtfulness, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team set out on the search for a killer . . . I've become a fan . . . of the whole kit and kaboodle . . . the lyrical writing, the mystery, the townsfolk, and the inner workings of Insspector Gamache's head . . .

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 02-10-17

Second novel in the Gamache/Three Pines series

I love this wonderful twelve novel modern detective mystery series and hope that Louise Penny will continue writing them for a long time. The plots are always excellent and the character development is second to none. One comes to feel he/she knows every person in Three Pines. Ralph Cosham is literally the perfect narrator for the Chief Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series. Unfortunately Cosham died after narrating the tenth novel. Robert Bathurst has done a nice job since.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Why is God suddenly a Three Pines resident?

What did you like best about A Fatal Grace? What did you like least?

Best: Narrator's soothing voice and effortless French pronunciations. Least: So many unanswered questions! And suddenly God is appearing in multiple minor character roles.

What could Louise Penny have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Explain Elle's comment to Clara about having always loved her art. And explained the whole Agent Nichol reappearance.

Have you listened to any of Ralph Cosham’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, loved his performance in Still Life.

Did A Fatal Grace inspire you to do anything?

Visit Quebec again!

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

engaging read!

love the narrator, found the mystery interesting as the characters try to solve, and love the descriptions of life in Three Pines.