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"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?
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.
37 of 42 people found this review helpful
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.
28 of 34 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up How the Light Gets In in three words, what would they be?
You'll laugh and cry and want to move to Three Pines.
Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?
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.<br/>I absolutely love her writing style and cannot get enough.
Which character – as performed by Ralph Cosham – was your favorite?
Can't help myself - as much as I adore Gamache, Three Pines would be incomplete without the demented poet, Ruth.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
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)
Any additional comments?
Please give us more.
16 of 20 people found this review helpful
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.
26 of 33 people found this review helpful
I was late discovering Louise Penny. I flew threw the first 8 novels,, giving every one of them a sterling review. So when I began this one, I realized I was completely burned out with Inspector Gamache and the village of 3 Pines. So I put it a side for a couple of months and it proved to be a wise decision.
How the Light Gets In is the smartest, most complicated story in the series. The depth of character development is simply remarkable. Gamache is vulnerable, humble, brilliant and scheming.
Ralph Cosham delivers another great performance. From an interview with the author and Cosham, he revealed that he never reads ahead while recording. He is the choice of Penny, who also tagged him in the first movie, presumably coming out soon.
This is a great read!
21 of 27 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about this story?
When the stories started moving in and out of Three Pines I felt the plots grew to be more complex and more interesting. Really how many murders can one small community have?
What does Ralph Cosham bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Ralph Cosham has been an amazing reader. He had become the real voice of Armand Gamache. Ralph will be greatly missed.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I wanted to love this book and kept listening hoping that things would improve as the 15 hours progressed. I agree with other reviewers that the mysteries were wrapped up too quickly without the much needed careful closure and final detail. Too much suspension of disbelief was required for me. Further, I agree with another reviewer that the "dead zone" and computer issues presented in the story seemed off and contradicted storylines from previous books.
I hate to say anything negative about the narration because I have really enjoyed Cosham's reading in the past. I wonder if he was unwell when this recording was done. His voice sounded thin and weak.
This series is becoming hit or miss for me. When Penny is "on" the books are fantastic. I hesitate to say this--but to me this entry missed the mark. My best advice is that this installment is only for die-hard village of Three Pines fans.
20 of 28 people found this review helpful
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.
12 of 17 people found this review helpful
If you are unfamiliar with this series, stop NOW and start with the first book "Still Life." You must read these books in order.
The Chief Inspector Gamache novels are police mysteries that take place in or near a small village in Quebec. (There is a bit of French tossed in, but knowledge of the French language is absolutely not required.) A murder will be solved by the end of the book, and I always enjoy the "mystery" aspect of these books.
But the characters and the complex plots are just as important.
Louise Penny has created a world with characters I know well and care deeply about. She has developed a main character (Armand Gamache) who has quickly become one of my favorites, ever, and I am a life-long reader. And she has woven the intricacies of storyline from book one to book nine (book 10 is about to be released) in such a way that I have to believe she saw the entire tapestry right from the beginning.
Add to these accolades the perfect narrator (Ralph Cosham), and you can see why this series is so special.
These books have EVERYTHING! Excellent writing, humor, drama, fascinating characters, mystery ... Start this series today.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
So your in traffic, barely moving but a guy in a pick-up is tailgaiting you. Thank you audible! This book fits nicely in to that category of nice option to nervous breakdown with desire to slam on my breaks with hopes that he comes out worse (these are just thoughts, wouldn't/haven't acted on them). This is like spending time with the quirky part of your family that is fun, occasionally funny, but dependable without too many needs placed upon you. No life changing moments here, just good, solid, likeableness. I do like to make-up words. I like the series mystery where you know everyone, there are the somewhat stock characters,(i'm partial to the curmuggeonly Ruth) whose personality flaws can be overlooked due to their intense loyalty or aptitude with cooking or electronics or other unpleasantness, and the group combined seem to embody all that is needed to cope reasonably successfully with current unforeseen drama. This story is good, like the others, interesting, but no need to stay in the car to see what happens next. I must give high marks for the reader. His voice is an excellent match for the material. Disclosure: I give very few 5 stars, so my 3 could be someone else's 4.5.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful