This Canadian novel is Louise Penny´s debut, and the first in the cozy Armand Gamache series.
The story takes place in the village of Three Pines. “Three Pines wasn´t on any tourist map, being too far off any main or even secondary road. Like Narnia, it was generally found unexpectedly and with a degree of surprise that such an elderly village should have been hiding in this valley all along. Anyone fortunate enough to find it once usually found their way back.”
But one day evil strikes in this little paradise, first when young hoodlums assault the queer owners of the local Bistro, later when 76-year-old Jane Neal, retired teacher and amateur painter, is killed. The villagers are shocked, and even more so when they realized their dear friend must have been murdered because she had decided to invite them all into her home for the first time ever.
No more about the plot, but Penny deserves much praise for a well-arranged plot teeming with old secrets and a number of rather convincing villagers, for better or worse.
The protagonist is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, happily married, very successful in his career and a great judge of character. And here comes my only problem with Penny´s series: Gamache is simply too good, kind and forgiving to be true, and his nasty little piece of an agent, Yvette Nichols, is too stupid, unpleasant and persistently loathsome.
Will I read more? Yes, certainly – keeping my fingers crossed that one day Louise Penny will make Gamache as credible as her other characters.
See my review of the third in the series, The Cruellest Month.