Winner of the BookBrowse 2013 Best Fiction Book Award
"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?
Audrey Villeneuve knew what she imagined could not possibly be happening. She was a grown woman and could tell the difference between real and imagined. But each morning as she drove through the Ville-Marie Tunnel from her home in east-end Montréal to her office, she could see it. Hear it. Feel it happening.
The first sign would be a blast of red as drivers hit their brakes. The truck ahead would veer, skidding, slamming sideways. An unholy shriek would bounce off the hard walls and race toward her, all-consuming. Horns, alarms, brakes, people screaming.
And then Audrey would see huge blocks of concrete peeling from the ceiling, dragging with them a tangle of metal veins and sinews. The tunnel spilling its guts. That held the structure up. That held the city of Montréal up.
And then, and then the oval of daylight, the end of the tunnel, would close. Like an eye.
And then, darkness.
And the long, long wait. To be crushed.
Every morning and each evening, ...
I usually gauge my reading in days. For Penny's How the Light Gets In it was hours! The characters and plot of this story are as intricate, mesmerizing and complex as ever; Penny, once again, transports us to where we all want to live - Three Pines - for another visit (and compelling mystery to solve) with our "family" (Kathleen D).
(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Full Review (1209 words).
In her review of How The Light Gets In for The Washington Post, Maureen Corrigan writes: "Penny's voice - occasionally amused, yet curiously formal - is what makes the world of her novels plausible. I can think of few other writers who could sidestep cuteness in a scene that features an elderly female poet and her pet duck."
Here is a scene from the novel that features that poet, Ruth, and her pet duck, Rosa:
[Ruth] lifted Rosa from her lap, feeling it warm where the duck had been. She carefully placed Rosa on Jean-Guy's lap.
He seemed not to notice, but after a few moments he brought his hand up and stroked Rosa. Softly, softly.
"I could wring her neck, you know," he said.
"I know," said Ruth. "Please don't."
She watched Rosa, ...
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