Tuesday, August 1, 2017
GLASS HOUSES BY LOUISE PENNY
It’s difficult for me to believe that after years of reviewing this is my first Gamache mystery novel. Little did I know what I’ve been missing. Louise Penny is an amazing author, reeling readers in with the opening sentences then following with a gripping scenario that is impossible to put down. She has, of course, received numerous awards and countless accolades - all deservedly so. Her Quebec village of Three Pines becomes an actual destination as its sights, sounds and texture are richly described. And the characters - what can one say? They’re totally original and absolutely unforgettable as we find ourselves drawn into their lives.
With Glass Houses we find Gamache is now the Chief Superintendent du Quebec. He has reorganized the office, solved many crimes yet is faced with what appears to be an insurmountable problem - the increasing drug traffic, drugs crossing the Montreal border into the United States. He well knows the mounting toll their consumption is taking on young people as drug cartels become greedier and even more clever. Catching their leaders seems to be an impossibility until Gamache comes up with an extraordinary scheme. The chances of it succeeding appear slim and failure means death. He needs help to even try - help from a man who hates him.
The story begins with the mysterious appearance of a figure in black who stands in the center of the village green on a chill November day. Obviously the villagers are curious and then nervous as the figure stands unmoving, apparently staring straight ahead through rain and sleet, day and night. When Gamache approaches and questions him the creature says nothing. When villagers beseech Gamache to get rid of the creature he says he can do nothing as the creature is not breaking any laws, yet Gamache becomes certain that the black hooded figure has a sinister purpose.
Then the creature disappears as suddenly as he came and a body is discovered in the church. Who could have killed a beloved villager and why? Some months later on a hot day in July an accused man is on trial for the killing and Gamache is on the witness stand. Everything, the very future of Montreal and the lives of countless people depend on how Gamache will answer questions posed to him.
Glass Houses is such a taut, engrossing thriller that one is tempted to race through it yet does not do so for fear of missing a revealing word. Simply put it is fiction at its finest.