Rating – 4 stars
Date Finished – June 21, 2017
55/120 in 2017
#2 in the Chief Inspector Gamache Series
This is #2 of 12 Chief Inspector Gamache novels, pastoral mysteries set in in the Quebec village of Three Pines. This installment follows the investigation of CC de Poitiers’ murder. CC is a widely reviled social climber, and when she is electrocuted at a curling competition (so Quebec!) on Christmas, there is no shortage of suspects.
The central mystery of the novel is intertwined with another murder – that of a homeless woman in Montreal – and with the emotional pasts of several Three Pines residents. We meet the “Three Graces,” Mother, Kaye, and Em, who serve as town matriarchs and who are somehow connected to CC’s murder.
The most intriguing character in the novel is Crie de Poitiers, CC’s daughter. She is the opposite of her mother; CC is sharp, angular, and believes that lightness (literally, everything being white) is the key to success, and Crie is overweight and wears bright pink, yellow, and orange. Crie is hugely damaged by her mother’s overbearing presence, and Penny dives into mother/daughter relationships in a way that adds depth to the story.
The characters that we met in Still Life are back – both the townspeople and Inspector Gamache and his crew, and I really enjoyed getting to know them better. I love the tension and adoration between Peter and Clara Morrow, and the sweet relationship that Gabri and Olivier share. My favorite relationship (and one that I hope gets a lot more time in future novels) is Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie. We see more of Agent Yvette Nichols (thank GOD), but there’s still a lot left to be explored with her character, too.
I enjoyed this second installment in the series so much – Penny’s twist on the “cozy mystery” genre is warm and inviting, and I love the small tongue-in-cheek moments that make Three Pines (and all its murder) seem plausible. (There’s no cell phone service! People only arrive there when they’re lost!) I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one – I’m plowing through all of these snowy Quebecois mysteries while it’s 95 degrees this summer. I can almost feel a chill in the air.