Cover image of "A Fatal Grace," a novel by Louise Penny

Do you enjoy detective fiction? Check out this one by Louse Penny. An unpopular woman, a newcomer to town, is murdered in the middle of the day at a popular sports event in rural Quebec. She was mysteriously electrocuted sitting in a lawn chair on the sidelines. The local constable is clueless.

Enter the celebrated homicide detective, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec, with a retinue of subordinates. Gamache plunges into the investigation with his usual quiet intensity, deploying his team with great skill. Suspects abound — of course: your job is to guess whodunit — and the Inspector methodically eliminates them, one by one. Meanwhile, his boss in Montreal is scheming to end Gamache’s career as chief of homicide because he exposed corruption at the highest level in the Surete in a previous case. The boss has planted a spy on Gamache’s team.

A Fatal Grace (Armand Gamache #2) by Louise Penny ★★★★☆

Now picture this setting: an isolated village in Quebec, not found on any maps, often snow-bound, but populated by a blend of long-time residents and cultural refugees from the hustle of Montreal, located an hour away. Among the late-comers are:

  • a misanthropic old woman who is one of Canada’s leading poets,
  • a world-class painter struggling because he can only produce one or two paintings a year,
  • his wife who is probably a better artist than he is but can’t catch a break,
  • a bantering gay couple who own the bistro and the B&B,
  • and a jumbo-sized black woman who bought the local bookstore after leaving a successful career as a clinical psychologist in the city.

We met this cast of fascinating but lovable characters in a previous novel (Still Life) in the venerable Inspector Gamache series. They’re back playing their assigned roles as foils to Gamache’s brilliance in this first-class followup.

If you enjoy fluid and evocative writing, three-dimensional characters, well-crafted suspense, and a complex puzzle, you’ll love A Fatal Grace.

I’ve also reviewed How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Gamache #9) by Louise Penny (A brilliant detective novel from Louise Penny).

For the more recent novel Louise Penny coauthored with Hillary Clinton, see State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny (The new Hillary Clinton novel is a page-turner).

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