Monday, 4 September 2017

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache novels frequently pick up crime fiction prizes, including six Agatha awards. The Long Way Home is the tenth in a series now numbering thirteen, and having read only two before and in no particular order, I wondered how I’d get on.

The series is set in Quebec and in this book, Gamache has recently retired to the village of Three Pines where most of the crimes from previous novels have taken place. There are the usual characters we’ve met before: Olivier and Gabri who run the antique shop/café; the prickly old poet, Ruth, whose only friend is her pet duck, etc.

Portrait artist Clara Morrow is worried about her husband Peter who has failed to arrive home as expected. Peter has been plagued by jealousy over his wife’s successful career, while his seems to have stalled. He has spent a year away, in search of inspiration, but now Clara wants to know why he hasn’t returned.

Gamache and his detective son-in-law Jean-Guy, Clara and Myrna, the bookshop owner, study Peter’s terrible pictures and dig into the past for clues, before embarking on a journey to the mouth of the St Lawrence River. It's a wild place as well as the home of a former art teacher with a potentially dangerous philosophy.

The Long Way Home starts out as a cosy mystery, but things take a sinister turn as Gamache and co. fear the worst and discover how artistic envy can drive someone to plan a very unpleasant and unusual murder. It’s a brilliant read; Penny has a real knack for throwing out interesting clues and enough action for things to seem desperate just when they need to be.

I loved the quirky characters who have philosophical discussions over delectable meals, and the settings are enough for you to want to plan a holiday to Quebec. And while it didn’t seem to matter that I hadn’t read all the previous books in the series, I will be putting them all on my must-read list.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: The Long Way Home

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