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How the Light Gets In

A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, #9

by Louise Penny

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny X
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2013, 416 pages
    Jul 2014, 416 pages

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Susan S. (Lafayette, CA) (07/19/13)

A page-turner (mostly)
It's hard to review any Louise Penny mystery without reviewing the whole series. One could read her latest book as a stand-alone mystery, but I think it suffers if you do because there is so much in it that refers to people and events from previous books and so much of the plot is dependent on events for which the groundwork was laid many books ago. So, to discuss this book as part of the series: If you love Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series, you will love this one. One of the major plot threads that has been simmering in the background for many of the previous books is finally resolved here, in what I found to be a satisfying, if not particularly believable way. But the book also contains the same flaws that have always prevented me, at least, from loving her books. For me, the village of Three Pines and its inhabitants are a little bit precious and annoyingly melodramatic. And I thought the actual murder mystery part of the plot was somewhat thin, with a motive that I did not find credible (and I generally feel that the motives for the murders in her books are not credible). But in this book solving the murder kept seeming like kind of an afterthought in the midst of what was really the major story relating to corruption in the Quebec government and police department, and even with my less than total devotion to this series, that part of the plot made this a page turner.
Andrea B. (Clinton, WA) (07/19/13)

Excellent mystery
This well written mystery has much to recommend it. The main character of Inspector Gamache appears here in the 9th of this series. His character is well developed and I really cared about what was happening to him. Although I had read only the 1st book of this series, I was able to follow the story line due to the explanations of previous circumstances. All of the characters were interesting, some sympathetic and some quirky. The layering of two mysteries gave this story some complexity, which kept me fully engaged. The conclusion of one of the two mysteries was dramatic as this mystery was a story of big dimensions. The final wrap up of this story was a bit convoluted. There were a couple of circumstances that affected the outcome of this situation that were surprising. They were surprising as there had been no hint that these advantageous circumstances were in place. That made the final explanation just a bit too convenient and undermined somewhat the careful construction of this story line.
That fairly minor quibble kept me from giving this book a rating of 5.
Alan K. (Westport, MA) (07/19/13)

Another hit for Penny
Although this is number nine in the Gamache series and does answer many unanswered questions from past books, it can certainly be read as a stand alone. Penny's characters are well-developed with Gamache as the moral gauge. The plot and mystery is complex, subtle and quite memorable. Highly recommended especially for mystery fans who like something a bit different.
Judith M. (San Diego, CA) (07/18/13)

How The Light Gets In
This long awaited and much anticipated sequel in Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series does not disappoint. Chief Inspector Gamache of the Surete du Quebec embodies the Surete motto, "Service, Integrity, Justice", as well as possessing intelligence, kindness and compassion. Unfortunately, there is evil among the higher echelon of the Surete. In this stand alone story, Gamache is confronting that evil as well as trying the solve the murder of the last remaining Ouellet Quint. The Ouellt Quints are patterned after the original Canadian quints, and the story of what their life must have been like is interesting and thought provoking.

While How The Light Gets In is a standalone story, it relies heavily on previous books, particularly The Beautiful Mystery. Most of the stories have in some way a connection to the village of Three Pines. I know in my heart that it 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. Ruth quotes her poem "Who hurt you once/ so far beyond repair/ that you would greet each overture/ with curling lip?" to Gamache's former second in command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Their estrangement is heartbreaking and at the heart of this wonderful book. More please!
Vicki H. (Greenwood Village, CO) (07/18/13)

This 9th installment of the Inspector Gamache series is Penny's best yet, and I could not put it down. We are back in the magical Quebec village of Three Pines, and the eccentric characters we've come to love there are given even more room to grow and move in this book. We're given a clue early on in the book from Matthew 10:36 -- "And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" and the brilliant Penny plays it nimbly for both of her running plots. While the mystery of a murdered quintuplet rivets us, the on-going machinations of Gamache's enemies within his own Surete de Quebec comes to a compelling conclusion.

This book is satisfying on every level, but readers new to the Inspector Gamache series should start at the beginning (or at least with her last three books) before diving into this 9th episode. You will be the richer for it!
Billy T. (Austin, TX) (07/18/13)

Yes, YES
There are a few authors that I looked longingly to their next offering. Louise Penny is one such. Her latest work brings to light again that beloved cast of characters from Three Pines and Quebec. It was delightful to see how she weaved a couple of subplots in and around the main story line. Her use of poetry--Ancient Mariner and Ruth's--added to the mystery. The story had, I felt, more of an intense and frightening nature as one drew nearer to the conclusion. It builds over several chapters and a complete surprise at the end. The concluding revelation of various "cracks" and the title of the book was clever and satisfying. Creatively and pleasingly well done.
Donna T. (Tacoma, WA) (07/17/13)

Good Mystery Series
Louise Penny is a new author for me, so I am very pleased to find her and her series of mystery novels with Chief Inspector Gamache. The plot at first appears simple with seemingly unconnected crimes. But it moves quickly to a fast paced and intricate story line. The characters are very well developed and I grew to really like the "good guys". It was like I wanted to reach thru the pages and give them a hug and say "It's OK, it will all turn out right." Which it did, and I took away a warm feeling for that lasted for several days. There are great moral questions presented here that will make for fascinating conversations at book club meetings.
Randi H. (Bronx, NY) (07/17/13)

How the Light Gets In -- highly recommended
Author Louise Penny just keeps getting better and better. In this, the 9th book in the Inspector Gamache series, she weaves a tale of suspense that left me on the edge of my seat. The characters are richly drawn and the story drew me right in. I was unable to put the book down.

Although it would be fine to read How the Light Gets In without having read the previous books in the series, I would strongly recommend starting with book 1, Still Life. There are many sub-plots woven into the books that will deepen your appreciation of the characters and the choices they face if read from in order.

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