Summary and book reviews of The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

The Nature of the Beast

A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, #11

by Louise Penny

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2015, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2016, 400 pages

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Book Summary

A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, Ruth knows, it is back...

Hardly a day goes by when nine year old Laurent Lepage doesn't cry wolf. From alien invasions, to walking trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him. Including Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache, who now live in the little Quebec village.

But when the boy disappears, the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true.

And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal. Leads right to the door of an old poet.

And now it is now, writes Ruth Zardo. And the dark thing is here.

A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, Ruth knows, it is back.

Armand Gamache, the former head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec, must face the possibility that, in not believing the boy, he himself played a terrible part in what happens next.

Chapter 1

Running, running, stumbling, running.

Arm up against the wiry branches whipping his face. He didn't see the root. He fell, hands splayed into the moss and mud. His assault rifle dropped and bounced and rolled from sight. Eyes wide, frantic now, Laurent Lepage scanned the forest floor and swept his hands through the dead and decaying leaves.

He could hear the footsteps behind him. Boots on the ground. Pounding. He could almost feel the earth heaving as they got closer, closer, while he, on all fours, plowed the leaves aside.

"Come on, come on," he pleaded.

And then his bloodied and filthy hands clasped the barrel of the assault rifle and he was up and running. Bent over. Gasping for breath.

It felt as though he'd been on the run for weeks, months. A lifetime. And even as he sprinted through the forest, dodging the tree trunks, he knew the running would end soon.

But for now he ran, so great was his will to survive. So great was ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

People

Penny sustains her high-wire act, creating characters of remarkable depth in an exhilarating whodunit.

Salem Macknee, The News & Observer

Louise Penny is unsurpassed at building a sense of heart-stopping urgency. Sometimes the stakes are personal: a marriage, a character's sanity. Sometimes the threat is to the village, a culture or even to the province of Quebec. This time Penny manages to create a threat that could truly be worldwide, and to place its future in the hands of our friends in Three Pines.

Booklist

A few too many coincidences may be required here to link Three Pines to Gerald Bull's bizarre, shocking career, but the overarching metaphor - the presence of a very large serpent in paradise - will resonate powerfully for devotees of this compelling series.

Kirkus

Starred Review. Penny is an expert at pulling away the surface of her characters to expose their deeper - and often ugly - layers, always doing so with a direct but compassionate hand.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this typically engaging and fairly clued installment, Gamache wrestles with whether he can truly be content with the quiet life Three Pines offers, a struggle that echoes the choices, past and present, others have made about their responsibility to confront the evil the human spirit is capable of.

Library Journal

Starred Review. A strong sense of place, a multilayered plot, and well-crafted (and for Penny's fans, familiar) characters combine for a thoughtful, intriguing tale. More than a simple mystery, Penny's novel peels away the emotional and psychological layers ofthe inhabitants of Three Pines. Although this book may stand alone, reading the previous titles will give readers context to truly understand and enjoy this latest in the series.

Reader Reviews

stacerbase

Best of Series!
I have read all of Louise Penny's novels, and this ranks at the top!

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Beyond the Book

Make Room for Ducklings?

We did not write a featured review or beyond the book article of The Nature of The Beast so here is an earlier "Beyond the Book" written for How The Light Gets In. We also have an informative article about why Quebec speaks French written for Bury Your Dead (#9).

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 ...

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