Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Louise Penny is a force unto herself in crime fiction.  She presents her characters and describes them with psychological insights seldom found in this oeuvre.  Thus, they are quite human, very much alive.  Such is the case with Armand Gamache, a former chief inspector who undertakes a task that very nearly causes his undoing.

    Gamache is determined to rid the Surete of corruption, and in order to do this he believes he should begin with the Surete Academy, investigate it thoroughly, clean house if necessary to make sure that the malleable minds of the cadet trainees receive the finest instruction.  However, Gamache goes about this in a puzzling manner - first of all by choosing to keep the most corrupt staff member, Serge “the Duke” Leduc, and hiring the questionable Michel Brebeuf.  Gamache believes that kindness overcomes cruelty, good defeats evil.  But, is that so?

    When the Duke is found murdered in his room it is evident that the murderer is from the Academy.  A copy of an old map is found at the crime scene, it is the same map that Gamache has used in tutoring four cadets in whom he has taken a special interest, going so far as to take them into his home and his trust.

    It is soon clear that Leduc’s influence on the Academy and the cadets .is greater than Gamache could have imagined.  Is the Academy that he sought to care for less safe than when he arrived?  As Gamache ponders his theories for the murder he uncovers the fearful truth of what is happening at the Academy.

    Penny has given us a compelling mystery and as is her wont leavens evil with forgiveness and hope.  She is a writer with rare understanding and we are the beneficiaries.

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