Today I’m sharing my latest addiction: the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny.
I lay the blame for this obsession at the feet of Sarah Bessey, who gave a raving recommendation for the series in this blog post this summer.
There are already twelve books in the series, so I know I’m late to the game. I’m reading the fifth book in the series now and have books six and seven waiting in the wings. I’ve learned the hard way that it saves a lot of angst to just have the next book close at hand. In some ways, then, by joining late I’m avoiding those pesky delays involved in the writing and publishing of these little masterpieces… at least until I hit book twelve. I imagine that’s the point where there will be a great reckoning (ahem).
Before this, it’d been forever since I’d read a murder mystery, although I’ve loved them for a long time. It started in early elementary school, when I spent my entire summer’s allowance at a single garage sale; the woman running the sale was selling a monstrous collection of Agatha Christie paperbacks, and I cleaned her out. A few months later I knocked on her door and asked if she had any others she hadn’t sold in the first batch (she did). By the end of sixth grade I’d read every mystery book written by Christie, no mean feat. I was an expert on the typical plot devices (although Christie’s known for her clever twists), and I had the best radar for picking up on hidden clues.
But… it’s been awhile. So far I’ve been surprised by the killer in each of the four Penny books I’ve read. I expect this is in keeping with the series, since Gamache himself is perpetually surprised by murder. In my defense, I will also say that sometimes, short of making a very good guess, the reader really doesn’t seem to have the chance to fully piece the mystery together on their own (singular “their” for the win!). Often key clues are kept hidden until the big reveal at the end. Sherlock Holmes stories are almost always this way. I’m ok with this, as it lets me off the hook for solving the mystery—but it doesn’t keep me from trying. Paying attention to little details is rather ingrained at this point.
This series has also made me realize that—besides lots and lots of Margaret Atwood—I’ve read little to no Canadian literature. This is embarrassing, but it’s also making Canada feel inordinately exotic as a setting. Haha! I’m slowly planning a future trip to Quebec, and I’m picking up a good variety of French swear words, too. So there’s that.
Have I convinced you to read the series yet? 🙂
Let me know in the comments: have you read the series? Which character is your favorite?