Sunday, January 8, 2023

A World Of Curiosities by Louise Penny


Something is not right in the small village of Three Pines.  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache can feel it in the air but can't put his finger on it.  He feels that whatever it is has its roots in the past and reexamines his past cases, including the one in which he met and saw what no one else could in Jean-Guy Beauvoir.  They met over the case of a murdered woman and Beauvoir was well on his way to being fired at the start of his career.  Gamache saw through the resentment and rebellion of Beauvoir and assigned him to the team.

The case was a brutal one.  The woman had two children, a girl and a boy.  As the case progressed, it turned out that from an early age, the mother had prostituted her children to the men of the area and saw in them only the value that abuse and degradation could bring her.  Gamache saw through the veil and realized that the children were damaged for life and had committed the murder.  The girl, who was the older, was imprisoned for many years while the boy was put into the foster system.  Now, the girl turned woman's term is over, she has earned an engineering degree and Gamache has taken her under his wing, trying to make up for her childhood.  But can such abuse ever be healed?

Strange things start to happen.  A bricked up room, sealed for a century and a half, is found.  It contains a mockup of the famous art piece, the Paston Curiosities.  While that work catalogues the worldly goods and discoveries of a rich family, this one seems to contain clues about a coming disaster, and it seems to be targeted at Gamache and his family.  Who hates him that much?  Who has the patience and cunning to set up a plot that takes years to develop and can Gamache and his staff find the mind behind it in time to forestall disaster?

This is the eighteenth novel in the Three Pines series and it is the best one I've read.  Chief Inspector Gamache can sometimes come off as a too perfect character to me but in this one his inner thoughts and motivations are more fully explored.  It is a very suspenseful novel with a climatic ending and fans will be excited to see a series with so many novels newly showing another side to the characters they have come to love.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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