Winner of the BookBrowse 2013 Best Fiction Award
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny is an enormous hit with BookBrowse readers. Out of the over 400 First Impressions books BookBrowse has offered to date only one other has ever gotten a 4.9 rating! Here is a glimpse of why readers have fallen in love with the latest Inspector Gamache mystery:
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). In the outstanding Inspector Gamache series, Louise Penny's latest book shines brightly. The dark presence that has been lurking throughout the books, threatening Gamache at every turn finally reveals itself (Doris B-C). I started reading as soon as this book arrived. It was hard to have to stop to work, eat and sleep! (Deborah D) Penny does an excellent job of drawing you in and allowing you to watch a great, investigative mind at work. The only thing missing was the occasional wise-beyond-their-years children, but I forgive Penny this lapse because there was Rosa the Duck (see Beyond the Book and who could ask for more? I highly recommend this book and can't wait to go back and reread Penny's eight other offerings. Thank you BookBrowse for bringing enjoyment to my life! (Carolyn G) Of all the mysteries Louise Penny has written, this was by far the most intense. It was riveting, one of those can't-put-it-down books. If 5 stars = very good, this book deserves even more (Sandra G).
Our readers suggest that you read the previous books in this series to get the most out of How the Light Gets In, but they are also very quick to point out that that you can thoroughly appreciate it as a stand-alone novel as well:
This was the first time I had read a Chief Inspector Gamache novel. Mystery, action, suspense. I'm hooked. The success of a series such as this is determined by the affinity you develop with the main characters. I will be reading another Gamache novel very very soon (Alice R). Each book is complete in its own right and has a continuing story that involves a small cast of characters. You will get caught up in the story in the first few pages and then you can't read the last pages fast enough (Annette S). Each book builds on the previous one and I highly suggest reading them in order to fully appreciate the author's almost magical way of making the characters seem real and making the reader wish that they were (Loren B). This is the first Louise Penny novel that I have read, and I enjoyed it very much. The various mystery threads move at their own pace and are pleasantly unhurried. The writing is terrific. There is real character development, you can readily feel the characters' emotions, and you can just picture the cold winter scenes coupled with the holiday warmth of the people living in Three Pines. I would recommend this even as a stand-alone novel (Jeff M).
Louise Penny not only spins a brilliant and suspenseful mystery but she also creates characters that are so complex and multi-dimensional our readers speak of them as friends:
The characters are very well developed and I grew to really like the "good guys." I wanted to reach through the pages and give them a hug and say It's OK, it will all turn out right...Which it did! (Donna T) Louise Penny shows how a classical mystery can be structured to show emotion and drama. Her characters are so believable that you would like to sit with them or in some cases not (Constance C). The language, the beloved characters, the town of Three Pines, and the nuances of the plot make the book superb (Carolyn S). This is my first experience with Louise Penny and her Inspector Gamache series. I had long heard whispers about how good the series was but did not take it seriously. What a fool I am! What seems like a straightforward plot is filled with twists and turns and surprises that left my mouth agape. Even more special is how I really came to care for many of the characters, each of whom had a very distinctive voice. This book is not simply a wonderful mystery, but a wonderful saga of a group of people, a town and a land whose beauty shines throughout the pages. I know I am one of those who are now going to go back and read the whole series. I dare anyone to not like this book (Lani S).
Be advised though, as a couple of readers point out, this is not your typical fast-paced mystery:
The story is tightly plotted, but Penny writes from a very emotional place. The pacing feels slow, almost contemplative at times, and she lavishes a great deal of attention on small details. This had the effect for me of dissipating any real buildup of suspense, which is why I gave the book four stars instead of five. It was still a very rewarding read (Jeanne B). This is not a fast-paced mystery with lots of action, but anyone who enjoys good writing and fascinating characters will love this book (Deborah C).
In the end, readers commented again and again on the emotional resonance of How the Light Gets In; on the accessibility of the characters and even of the fictional small town of Three Pines many even wanted to go visit!
I find Penny's writing absolutely hypnotic. One almost feels like a resident of this mythic village as she so excellently describes its locale. Penny catches so well the feelings, passions and eccentricities of its residents (Kathleen S). The eccentric characters we've come to love are given even more room to grow and move in this book (Vicki H). I know in my heart that Three Pines exists. I want to sit before the fire sipping hot chocolate in Olivier's Bistro, sink into crisp white sheets at Gabri's B&B, peruse Myrna's Bookstore, and even sit on the bench with Ruth and Rosa. More please! (Judith M) Draw up a chair...offer Ruth a Scotch settle before the fireplace at the Bistro...you are in for a treat (Lydia M).
This review was originally published in September 2013, and has been updated for the July 2014 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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