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Jane D. (Boulder, CO)
a gentle mystery
One of the strongest impressions I got from this book was that it was civilized, mannerly, even genteel. The art that is at the heart of the plot is described as being hopeful and optimistic, and Chief Inspector Gamache’s manner seems to embody these feelings. Although this is a murder mystery, there are also many more layers to this book. It explores addiction, secrets, contrasts, and the power of hope. It was the first Inspector Gamache novel I’d read, but I want to read more. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Judy (Marysville, OH)
A new Chief Inspector Gamache book: always intriguing
I love a good mystery, and Louise Penny’s A Touch of the Light has everything I look for in a good mystery. (1) Wonderful writing. (2) Characters, both major and minor, who have depth, quirks, and their own element of mystery. For example, a recurring character in these books, Ruth, who is “an embittered old poet,” is superbly drawn, unlike any other character I’ve encountered. (3) A complex puzzle and surprising denouement. In this case, the question of whether the murder victim, Lillian Dyson, could have changed from being a very bad person to being a good person is central to solving the case. (4) Interesting issues that crop up as an integral part of the investigation, like the question of whether a person can truly change, and also in this book, what distinguishes the art of genius from the art of the predictable. (5) And did I mention excellent writing? I have not yet read all of Penny’s Inspector Gamache books where bad things happen in Three Pines, a community too small to be on any maps, crimes that keep drawing Gamache out of Montreal to investigate. He solves the crimes but the ensuing intrigues of the human heart and mind are not so easily tied up. I will be reading all of these books and eagerly anticipating the next new one from Penny.
Liz GG (South Pasadena, CA)
A delight, not your usual murder mystery
Louis Penny’s, A Trick of the Light, is the seventh in her series set in Three Pines a fictitious small town near Montreal. This is a new author for me and I loved the book. Penny is a skilled writer and has crafted her story so that it can stand alone. Unlike many mystery series that depend on a major detective, in this case Chief Inspector Gamache of the Surete du Quebec, this writer has created a montage of several characters as part of the investigative staff and the members of a small Canadian town. Indeed, I was more interested in the psychological development of Clara and her husband as well as Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir, Gamache’s assistant than in the actual murder. When the book ended, I wanted more. I am now going to read the rest of the series.
Linda L. (Saint Louis, Missouri)
My thoughts on Louise Penny's A Trick of the Light
This is my first time reading a Louise Penny book so I came to it with no preconceived expectations. Overall I found her to be quite good at writing, certainly a master of nuance, innuendo, and subtlety with this particular book. Maybe the subject/theme was a little esoteric, but still the characters were well drawn and interesting. I enjoyed the fact that so many of the characters were suspects of the murder, the perpetrator could have been anyone of several persons. The book is intelligently written, Ms. Penny did an excellent job of research on this story and provided a good eye into the world of art dealers and artists in general. My small quibble with this book comes from the fact that I have not read previous books in this series, and there is an abundance of references to, what I presume to be, the prior book in the series. The events in the previous book seemed to be critical to an underlying part of this book. I felt like I was not in on it because I did not read that book. There is an issue between Inspector Gamache and Inspector Beauvois that is directly related to what took place in the prior book. I realize that series books will usually relate back to previous books just to make a first time reader get a little history of the main characters but what happened in a prior book is often not a crux of the current story. Anyway, it's a small thing and might only bother me. I want to know more about what happened in the last book, so I will go out and buy the book. Hummm, maybe that is the point.
Cecilia Z. (Montclair, New Jersey)
Returning to Three Pines
I was excited to read the latest installment in this mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Gamache - it felt like going back to a special place and catching up on the lives of the unique people who live there. The fact that it was a mystery was almost secondary to finding out what has happened in Three Pines since the last book in the series. In that regard, the book does not disappoint, although in the end it does raise more questions than answers, with uncertainty for several of the characters. The mystery itself was not as interesting as some of the earlier books, but still entertaining, although you begin to wonder how many people can be murdered in one small village!
Not Penny's best work.
This mystery gets off to a clunky start, with the author awkwardly presenting background from the previous book in this series. Penny's hallmark is the emotional luminosity of her writing, but that was only spottily in evidence here and there in the book, particularly in the ending. I had a hard time believing that jealousies and feelings in the art world are as murderous as portrayed in this book, but I still feel drawn to her village of Three Pines and the characters who appear throughout her series.