Today’s book birthday is Louise Penny’s The Long Way Home. This is actually the 10th book in Penny’s mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Two of the most consistent comments I see in reviews of Penny’s books are that her characters seem as familiar as your friends and that her setting is so intimate it becomes a character itself. Penny created a village called Three Pines in Quebec for these stories, and the village is based on Penny’s home town. This past Sunday, NPR’s Linda Wertheimer interviewed Penny about her series, and Penny calls her books “great big thank you letters to a place that made me feel at home when I needed it.” If you’re interested in the rest of the interview, there is a full transcript available on NPR’s website.
I’ve only read Still Life, the first book of the series, but I enjoyed it and will definitely continue it when my TBR pile is less outrageous! I’m also going to hear Penny speak at Fearrington Village tomorrow, so that’s exciting.
Here is what Minotaur has to say about The Long Way Home:
Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec, has found a peace he’d only imagined possible. On warm summer mornings he sits on a bench holding a small book, The Balm in Gilead, in his large hands. “There is a balm in Gilead,” his neighbor Clara Morrow reads from the dust jacket, “to make the wounded whole.”
While Gamache doesn’t talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache’s help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. “There’s power enough in Heaven,” he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, “to cure a sin-sick soul.” And then he gets up. And joins her.
Together with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and Myrna Landers, they journey deeper and deeper into Québec. And deeper and deeper into the soul of Peter Morrow. A man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist, he would sell that soul. And may have. The journey takes them further and further from Three Pines, to the very mouth of the great St. Lawrence river. To an area so desolate, so damned, the first mariners called it The land God gave to Cain. And there they discover the terrible damage done by a sin-sick soul.
If you like cozy mysteries, you should give Still Life a try.