Louise Penny started out with a fresh mix of police and village mystery in her debut, Still Life. As the Inspector Gamache series continued, the books got more complex, with its lead investigator slowly revealing himself as much as the the mysteries he looks into. Her latest, How The Light Gets In, is a game changer in the series and a culmination of the past eight books.
We find Gamache both personally and professionally alone. Police politics have stripped his unit of many of the top members and his nemesis, Chief Superintendent Francoer, is trying to out him. As a favor, and maybe for a bit of relief, he goes back to Twin Pines to help bookseller Myrna Landers find a missing friend.
The search leads to a dark web of political and family history. Much of it involves a set of quintuplets who were famous in Quebec during the Fifties and Sixties. It also leads to a series of cover ups that tie into Gamache’s troubles in the Surete.
Both plots dovetail elegantly. There is one of those classic but rare moments where you’ll gasp at a major reveal. So much of this has to do with Penny’s sense of craft and understanding of character, particularly of her protagonist. She give echoes of Still Life that reverberate through the book.
How The Light Gets In is an important book in a series that shows a master storyteller’s sense of balance. Gamache’s simple virtues and professionalism cut through the complexity of the plot. It’s a darker book that deals with the corruption of institution, yet shows the hope that the individual provides. While it continues many things from this series, it poses further questions for and about the inspector.
Louise Penny will be here at BookPeople Tuesday, September 3rd at 7PM to speak about & sign How The Light Gets In. The talk is free and open to the public. If you’d like a signed copy of the book, you can order one over on the BookPeople website.