Saturday, August 26, 2017

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache # 13
Louise Penny
St. Martin's Minotaur
August 29, 2017

Glass Houses begins with Armand Gamache on the witness stand. No doubt he has been there many times, but never have we seen him give testimony. It quickly becomes apparent that this is no ordinary trial but one that Gamache takes personally. Additionally, the Crown Prosecutor is taking a very adversarial tone with Gamache, oddly because they are supposed to be on the same side. The murder in question is personal for Gamache since it took place in Three Pines. It all began on the day after Halloween of the previous year when the adults of Three Pines have their Halloween party; the night before being reserved for the children. An apparition clad in a robe, black gloves, a hood, and mask appears at the gathering, unmoving and silent. The party breaks up, and the figure takes his place on the green, where he remains for more than two days and nights. No one sees him move and the village is thoroughly unnerved. Why is he there, and more importantly, for whom? When he is finally absent one morning all of Three Pines is relieved, but perhaps one or more inhabitants are especially relieved.

There is always more than one story being told in Louise Penny's long running series, and Glass Houses is no exception.Gamache is a year into his new position as Chief Superintendent of the Quebec Sureté and fighting a losing battle with the opioid epidemic. Drugs are coming into Canada in vast quantities as well as being smuggled across the border into the US. He has had little success and not only the Sureté but the general public is taking notice. Gamache, however, has a plan, one that is shocking in its audacity, setting up a moral dilemma for Gamache and his subordinates. They are gambling literally everything on the plan's success. Louise Penny does a masterful job of tying together the two disparate stories. She uses misdirection but all the pieces are there. When it becomes clear how the events come together and who the responsible party is, I was surprised that I didn't see it sooner. Then I realized that I just didn't want to see it.

Our familiar friends in Three Pines are somewhat peripheral to the investigation in Glass Houses, at least until the explosive end. They are not the focus of the story but as always provide much of the heart. Gamache's colleagues in the Sureté play a much larger part especially Beauvoir and Isabelle Lacoste. Both have risen to higher levels of responsibility and are, on the whole, loyal to Gamache and the plan. A new Gamache novel is always a red-letter event and Glass Houses is one of her best.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Minotaur for an advance digital copy. The opinions above are my own.

RATING- 5 Stars

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