A Trick of the Light: Book summary and reviews of A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

A Trick of the Light

Armand Gamache Series #7

By Louise Penny

A Trick of the Light
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2011,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

"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. 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie [but] it sells her short. Her characters are too rich, her grasp of nuance and human psychology too firm...." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Penny, elevating herself to the pantheon that houses P.D. James, Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters, demonstrates an exquisite touch with characterization, plotting and artistic sensitivity." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. With her usual subtle touch and timely injections of humor, Penny effectively employs the recurring motif of the chairoscuro, the interplay of light and dark, which distinguishes Morrow's artwork and which resonates symbolically in the souls of the author's characters." - Publishers Weekly

"The superbly gifted Louise Penny is on my secret shortlist of must-read authors, and A Trick of the Light proves why. Artist Clara Morrow is about to have a prestigious show of her paintings when her childhood friend is found murdered, and the finger of suspicion points to Clara. Chief Inspector Gamache is called to investigate, and using his trademark powers of deduction and his intuitive knack for the right question at the right time, he exposes the darkness that underlies the bright stars of Montreal's art world, where competition between friends, and even between husband and wife, can turn lethal. Ultimately, of course, it's Louise Penny who steals the show, and A Trick of the Light will not only keep you engrossed from start to finish, it will teach you something new about love, truth, and the human heart." - Lisa Scottoline

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by diwolter
Louise's BEST yet!
I longingly wait months and months for Louise Penny's newest release of her Inspector Gamache and Three Pines series....and this edition was very much worth the wait! She continues to explore the complexities of each of her enduring characters and the culture of the small town in which they live and connect on every level. I feel, with each novel, that I gain a closer relationship with each of these people and am always sad when the books comes to an end --- missing them until the next book! Along with the rich story and hard-to-figure-out mystery plot, I feel that I learn a good deal about the history and culture of Quebec and it's people. Fascinating! Highly recommended.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Diane S.
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
Three Pines is a village in Canada that can not be found n any map, yet reading her mysteries is like coming home and revisiting friends you have not seen for a while. Penny mixes regular people and their human failings with humor, love and insight. Her story lines explore the mystery needing to be solved with psychological insights into their motives and personalities. Just love her writing.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Fran T. (San Diego, CA)
A Trick of the Light--not your typical "Cozy"
A Trick of the Light is the first of Louise Penny's mysteries which I have read. I selected this book because I love mysteries and I was well aware of all the awards and accolades which Louise Penny has received. Now I understand indeed why she has garnered such high praise. Her stories rise to a much higher level than simply a cozy mystery. Her characters are complex mixtures of light and dark
as all real human beings are--but many characters in novels are not. In addition to being so conscious of human psychology, Louise Penny writes in an appealing and yet cerebral style. She and the best of her characters, particularly Chief Inspector Gamache, are deeply introspective and philosophical. The denouement of this novel, in my opinion, is amazing. As Hercule Poirot did in Christie's stories, Gamache assembles all the major players and reveals the murderer. But Gamache is far more broadly intelligent and humane than Poirot ever was. As he reveals the solutions of the mysteries, he also reveals his knowledge of and compassion for all the major characters in this novel--their strengths and weaknesses. Louise Penny, through Gamache, shows us some of her thoughts about life--the giving and receiving of forgiveness, wanting peace more than pain and never giving up on hope.

I now intend to go back, so to speak, and read all of Penny's previous mystery novels with the consciousness that her writing is superb and that the questions she raises about life are deep.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Carolyn D. (Chico, CA)
Murder (again) in Three Pines!
A good read! Penny's fans know what to expect from the series and all moving parts are well-oiled and performing as they should. The book is well plotted and the clues are all well (and deftly) planted. I did not find the victim as compelling as others in the series have been. Penny has given herself a real challenge keeping a tiny town with a minute population fresh and new. We know the usual suspects so well that we can kind of finish their sentences for them by now. But I still love them and there is certainly plenty going on to move the book and the series along smartly.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Karen M. (Great Falls, VA)
Excellent Mystery in the Agatha Christie Tradition
We have a cozy village tucked away where it cannot be found on any map and where murder is always afoot. We have the Chief Inspector Gamache, a loveable, brilliant, renaissance man, with keen insight into the hearts of people. And we have a village full of eccentrics who return to enchant in nearly every novel. Trick of the Light is the seventh book in Louise Penny’s award-winning series. I’d plan on sitting down and reading this book in one sitting. It’s quick-paced, well-plotted and clever in its’ twists and turns. It’s rare that I solve the “who-done-it” puzzle before the Chief Inspector and his team.

I have to admit that I am always a bit sad when the book is finished and I have to leave the world that Penny has created. Strong, original and fully developed characters are her strong suit. She also writes with great intelligence and passion. Her books contain alot of research and information. Often when solving the murder, we may also learn about the indigenous tribes of Canada, the stolen artworks of Eastern Europe, or the importance in Quebec’s history of Samuel de Champlain and his missing body. In this book, the struggles, jealousies, and triumphs of the tight art community in Quebec are our education.

If you are new to this author, I’d start with the first book, the award-winning Still Life. In addition to the murder plot central to the novel, in each subsequent book Penny continues story lines from previous books. Starting at the beginning helps put certain revelations about a character in context.

For more on her awards, kudos, and book tour, visit www.louisepenny.com.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Kristina G. (Aiken, SC)
A Trick of the Light
Wow! What a great surprise - in addition to being a well-written murder mystery, this book has humor, information on the art world, and a bit of French. The characters are real, flawed, and believable. The author ties the ending together neatly in a way that made sense. Very readable!

...16 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Louise Penny Author Biography

Photo: Gary Matthews

Louise Penny's first novel, Still Life, won the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards. Her second book, A Fatal Grace, won the 2007 Agatha Award for Best Novel, as did her third, The Cruelest Month. Her next, A Rule Against Murder, was a New York Times bestseller, followed by The Brutal Telling, which was a New York Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and National Indie bestseller. Louise lives in a small village south of Montreal.

Pronunciation Guide: Louise Penny's website provides a wealth of interesting information about her and her books including a pronunciation guide to the characters and places referenced in her books.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series (to 2011)

  1. Still Life (2005)
  2. Dead Cold (2006) aka A Fatal Grace
  3. The ...

... Full Biography
Link to Louise Penny's Website

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