I'm so glad you've discovered the Armand Gamache books. I hope you're enjoying reading them as much as I'm loving writing about the Chief Inspector, and the village of Three Pines, in Quebec.
And - the big news is - the next in the series is on the way!
THE LONG WAY HOME features Gamache and will be out August 26th. You can pre-order it, if you'd like. Here's a link that might help.
For those of you who want a taste of the new book, just click here to read how it begins. I'll be posting excerpts from the first chapter for the next few weeks. Enjoy!
Here is a brief description of what happens in the book - without giving anything away, I promise!
Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of the Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec, has found a peace he'd only imagined possible. On warm summer mornings he sits on a bench holding a small book, THE BALM OF GILEAD, in his large hands. "There is a balm of Gilead," his neighbor Clara Morrow reads from the dust jacket, "to make the wounded whole."
While Gamache doesn't talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache's help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamche feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. "There's power enough in Heaven," he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, "to cure a sin-sick soul." And then he gets up. And joins her.
Together with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and Myrna Landers, they journey deeper and deeper into Quebec. And deeper and deeper into the soul of Peter Morrow. A man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist, he would sell that soul. And may have. The journey takes them further and further from Three Pines, to the very mouth of the great St. Lawrence river. To an area so desolate, so damned, the first mariners called it The land God gave to Cain. And there they discover the terrible damage done by a sin-sick soul.
I can hardly wait for you to read THE LONG WAY HOME
The pre-publication reviews are coming in for THE LONG WAY HOME
Booklist (starred review)
'As always, Penny dexterously combines suspense with psychological drama, overlaying the whole with an all-powerful sense of landscape as a conduit to meaning…. Another gem from the endlessly astonishing Penny….
Penny appears to have reserved a lifetime seat atop best-seller lists
everywhere, and, with the appearance of her latest, she will take her place once again.'
Perceptive… perfectly paced…The prose is remarkably fresh, filled with illuminating and delightful turns of phrase.
Library Journal (starred review)
'Penny wraps her mystery around the history and personality of the people involved. By this point in the series, each inhabitant of Three Pines is a distinct individual, and the humor that lights the dark places of the investigation is firmly rooted in their long friendships, or, in some cases, frenemyships. The heartbreaking conclusion will leave series readers blinking back tears.'
In other exciting news, we've started the Chief Inspector Gamache Virtual Book Club! The idea is to re-read (or read for the first time) the entire series, from the beginning. If you haven't joined yet, and want to, you can hop in anytime. Here's the link. We'd love to have you there..
In the meantime, there's exciting news on the personal front. Thanks to the books, to you, to Michael and to many friends, I've been awarded the Order of Canada - the nation's highest civilian honour. I can't begin to tell you how overwhelmed, overjoyed, emotional I was when told. And still I. I keep thinking of my parents, and grandparents, and wishing they were alive to see this. It's a singular feeling, to be recognized by my own country.
On the professional front, some more thrilling news -HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN has been nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for the Edgar Award, for Best Novel. The winner will be announced May 1st in New York City. Michael and I (in our party frocks) will be there. So exciting. Who'd have thought it, years ago, when STILL LIFE came out? Well, I dreamed of it, but never expected it would happen. Wow. Here's the link to all the nominees (who are disconcertingly brilliant). Congratulations to everyone!
More terrific news for HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN. It has been nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. As well - HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN has also been nominated for the Agatha Award, for Best Novel! And the award given by Left Coast Crime in the US for Best Crime Novel set outside the USA. That prize will be announced at Left Coast Crime in Monterey, March 19th to 23rd. I'll be there as one of the Guests of Honor, along with the astonishingly talented Cara Black, Marcia Muller, Sue Grafton, and Bill Pronzini. If you'd like to go, here's the link to that. What did we do before links?
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN is the current Chief Inspector Gamache book. It came out in Aug 2013, and debuted at #1 on the New York Times list, and made bestseller lists, and Best of 2013 lists internationally.
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN, the ninth in the series, is really the culmination of so many issues, so many threads, that have been woven through all the Chief Inspector Gamache books.
In the book, winter has arrived in the Quebec village of Three Pines, and while the village is preparing for Christmas Myrna Landers is awaiting a guest who will never arrive. An elderly woman. A former client of the now retired psychologist. And a woman whose real identity few knew.
Myrna knew. She helped protect her elderly friend against prying eyes. But someone else found out this woman's shocking secret. Someone else found her. As the hours stretch on and the woman does not arrive, Myrna calls her old friend Chief Inspector Gamache, of the Sûreté du Québec, for a favour. For help.
And while the Chief agrees to trying to find Myrna's friend, he has growing troubles of his own. His homicide department has been gutted. His best agents transferred out. His second-in-command now works for Gamache's rival in the Sûreté.
It becomes clear, as the nights draw in and the temperatures plummet, that this is more than a mere personal vendetta. Something old and rancid is stirring. Some vile plan has been put into action and is rushing toward a terrible conclusion.
A conclusion that plays out in the little village of Three Pines. Hidden from the world.
But the world has finally found it.
On top of the wonderful things I've already mentioned for HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN, there has been other recognition:
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN has been named by the Washington Post one of the top 5 Fiction Books of the Year and has been chosen an IndieNext pick by the Independent Booksellers Association in the US.
Named by The Globe Books 100: Best Crime by the Globe & Mail
Amazon.com has named HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN to their BEST OF 2013 list
Named to Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year list
Barnes and Noble has put HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN on its Best Fiction of 2013 list
Named to Goodreads Best Mystery-Thriller Books 2013 list
Library Journal has named HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN one of the best audiobooks of 2013
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN has been named BEST FICTION BOOK OF 2013 by Book Browse in the US.
The American Library Association made it a top ten pick for best book published in the entire nation in September.
AudioFile Magazine has named HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN one of the year's Best Crime Novels, and has also named the remarkable Ralph Cosham one of the year's top narrators.
The reviews for HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN have been extraordinary.
insights into trust and friendship, that will
hook readers and keep them hooked."
"Penny has always used setting to support
theme brilliantly, but here she outdoes herself,
contrasting light and dark, innocence and experience,
goodness and evil both in the emotional lives
of her characters and in the way those characters
leave their footprints on the landscape. Another
bravura performance from an author who has reinvented
the village mystery as profoundly as Dashiell
Hammett transformed the detective novel."
with subtlety and intelligence. Once again, Penny
impressively balances personal courage and faith
with heartbreaking choices and monstrous evil."
"Penny's mysteries are really character studies.
There is police procedure being followed, but
the forensics take second place to Gamache's absolutely
fascinating probe into the characters of every
single person involved in the investigation: the
police, the witnesses, and especially the suspects.
He cares passionately about each person and makes
the reader care. Highly recommended."
The Washington Post
....extraordinary. In How the Light Gets In, Penny has written a magnificent mystery novel that appeals not only to the head, but also to the heart and soul."
"A New and Noteworthy Book - Four out of Four Stars: ....sophisticated and complex...Penny immerses the reader in a high-suspense cyber-hacking drama emanating from the off-the-grid Three Pines that proves not only pivotal but memorable....At the center of everything is Gamache — a modest, smart, kind-hearted man whose empathy and warmth may be his fatal flaw and certainly defy that of stereotypic crime-thriller detectives....You buy into it…because, if it were true, this would somehow be a better world. And you want it to be true, even if only in fiction. Sometimes that's how the light gets in."
And People Magazine in the US gave it four out of four stars and concluded the review by saying:
"Once again, Penny delivers a masterful, nuanced suspense novel in which tone and setting are just as riveting as the murderer's who and why."
Daily Express (UK)
"Louise Penny twists and turns the plot, expertly tripping the reader up just at the moment you think you might have solved the mystery. She excels with the characterisation of Armand Gamache. Creating through him a story of human perseverance in the face of personal turmoil. He is a deeply complex character....Unrelentingly fast-paced, it powers through its narrative with the force of a high-speed train."
Richmond Times Dispatch
"With the grace of a master prose stylist and the generosity born of a kind heart, Penny again explores the mysteries of humanity in a novel that builds to a nerve-burning climax, engages the mind in an examination of sin and redemption....Suffused with brilliance on all levels, "How the Light Gets In" displays Penny at her beautiful and bountiful best."
....How the Light Gets In is a story about crime (against nature and against the rules of society), corruption (personal and political), and murder (both actual and metaphysical). Hope and fear, good and evil, friendship and betrayal, love and hate, innocence and corruption: Penny explores the battling dualities that exist in all of us, and the necessity of battle (and even failure) to create resilience. Her novel about death and decay becomes a book about how to live: everything broken has a crack, but that is how the light gets in.
Having started as a voracious reader (and I still am), I know that reading is as creative as writing. The writer suggests. Creates a character, a setting, an atmosphere. But it's the reader who brings it alive. Walks with the characters. Sees the world, smells the woodsmoke, tastes the café au lait. Feels the biting cold on the tender cheek.
And feels the joy, and the dread.
Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering.
There's a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen "Anthem"
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN is about time running out. Bells tolling. Worlds falling apart. Shattering. But it's also about belonging, about friendship. About loyalty. And light.
I'm often asked two questions: should
the books be read in order? And, what is the order?
excellent questions. At the risk of appearing to want
you to buy more books let me say that while it's not
necessary to read them in any particular order (they're
designed to be self-standing) there is quite a strong
character development arc. I think you'd enjoy the books
even more if read in order.
here's the order, from the first to the most recent:
A FATAL GRACE / DEAD COLD
THE CRUELEST MONTH
A RULE AGAINST MURDER / THE MURDER STONE
THE BRUTAL TELLING
BURY YOUR DEAD
A TRICK OF THE LIGHT
THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN
Some of the books have different titles, as you might
have noticed. The publishers did this not, as you might
suspect, to be annoying but because they genuinely feel
their readers respond to different titles. I hope it's
not too confusing.
And finally, a small note about
the themes in my books. They're inspired by two lines
from a poem by WH Auden, in his elegy to Melville. Goodness
existed, that was the new knowledge/his terror had to
blow itself quite out to let him see it.
How powerful is that?
My books are about terror. That brooding terror curled
deep down inside us. But more than that, more than murder,
more than all the rancid emotions and actions, my books
are about goodness. And kindness. About choices. About
friendship and belonging. And love. Enduring love.
you take only one thing away from any of my books I'd
like it to be this: