Prather’s Pick: An Inspector Gamache novel
Author Louise Penny, who lives in Montreal, has written 11 previous Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. “A Great Reckoning,” the 12th in this series, is this week’s featured book. It’s published by Minotaur Books (2016).
As the novel opens, Armand Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie are at home in the tiny village of Three Pines. They have moved here with their dog Henri after Armand’s early retirement from the Surete where he was head of the most successful homicide department in the country.
Three Pines is a charming little village where Armand and Reine-Marie enjoy their charming while eccentric neighbors. There’s Olivier who, with partner Gabri, own the village bistro. The residents of the village spend much of their time there.
Then there’s Ruth Zardo, an elderly woman who takes her pet duck, Rosa, wherever she goes. Ruth doesn’t care what she says, but nobody seems to mind. Clara is a painter, and Myrna runs the New and Used Bookstore next to the bistro.
Armand is not yet 60. During the time he spent at the Surete, he discovered there was a lot of corruption within, but when he tried to do something about it, he nearly died. It involved Michel Brebeuf, superintendent of the Surete at the time.
Reine-Marie notices that the scar near Armand’s temple isn’t as deep anymore, and he only limps when he’s tired. She has known that the day would come when he wants to go back to work, and it has. Armand has had plenty of offers, but he has decided to take on the task of cleaning up the brutality and corruption at the Surete Academy — after all, that’s where the training begins.
So on a November day, as the snow falls, Armand is going over some cadet files, assessing the red and green dots put there by the man who was in charge. He decides on all but one. Amelia has spiked hair and piercings in her nose, brows, and cheeks. Armand has reason to decline her entry to the Academy, but something bothers him. In the end he changes the red dot on her file for green.
Although there are a number of cadets at the Academy, the novel’s plot centers around four of them: Huifen, Nathaniel, Jacques and Amelia.
Then Armand hires Serge Leduc (the Duke), who was previously the commander, and Michel Brebeuf as professors. Armand’s son-in-law, Jean Guy Beauvoir, becomes second-in-command.
So, with Armand as commander of the Surete Academy, classes begin. However, it isn’t long until the Duke is found dead — murdered. An investigation begins.
Back at Three Pines, an old map is found within the walls of the bistro. It’s not just any map. It’s been illustrated. Among other things are the three pines, a cow, a snowman and a pyramid. The village of Three Pines is not found on any official maps. What is the significance of the illustrations? Everyone tries to guess.
Oliver has a copy of the map framed as a gift for Armand. He takes it to school, and the cadets notice it. Armand has copies made of the map and since the skills in investigating the map are the same as those for solving crimes, Armand puts the four cadets in charge of solving the mystery.
The cadets end up in Three Pines where the residents also get into solving the map’s history.
Murder, map mystery, and more keep the reader turning the pages! I really enjoyed this novel.
“A Great Reckoning” costs $28.99 in hardcover. You can also find it at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Library, with new books.
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A fire being dubbed “Skull Creek” is active north of U.S Highway 40 about 70 miles west of Craig along the highway, or 60 miles west-southwest as the crow flies.