A Chief Inspector
By Louise Penny
I hadn't enjoyed a "good ole' fashion" mystery for a long time--you know the kind that goes through the crime step-by-step and then winds up in some central setting where the lead investigator--in this case, Chief Inspector Gamache--solves the crime and points out the perpetrator who is there and then that individual shares his side of the "why" of the whodunit! This type of novel certainly allows we readers the wonderful chance of working along in solving the crime, even if we aren't successful in solving the case before the end! Only one thing dampened my enjoyment of Louise Penny's latest Gamache mystery. For those of you like me, who doesn't have an ear for languages, the audio version is beautifully read by Ralph Cosham and while his pronunciation of characters names in French was excellent, for me it was hard to follow who was who, especially when a first-name was used. Nevertheless, I highly recommend that mystery lovers either read or listen to A Trick of the Light! It is first-class in the more traditional mystery from which many of us first came to love mysteries and their writers!
Penny takes us deep into the art world in Montreal where Clara Morrow, an older artist, has had her first, somewhat unexpected, solo show at Musee, receiving many rave reviews... The concept of her show was intriguing to me--painting portraits using the women in her village. One was especially interesting in using one woman as the older Virgin Mother...made me wish I could see the painting! Still, there were some that didn't understand her work, or perhaps were jealous. This included her husband...
In celebration a town-wide party hav been arranged back in her home town, Three Pines, which was attended by nearly everybody in town and including many invited guests from the art world. But one woman showed up unexpectedly. She had been a childhood friend of Clara, but their friendship had been broken for many years.
Now that friend, Lillian Dyson, was dead. Found behind Clara's home, in the garden flowers...
They found a small coin-like circle under her body later. In was the type of token given to members of AA...
Of course, there were many potential witnesses to be interviewed and we are privy to each one. During that time we learn that Lillian was also an artist now, but that she had been a literary critic in the past. What Gamache found most interesting was the difference between descriptions from Clara and others who had known her in the past and most remembered her for how cruelly she could treat others, including in her writings. But those who had met and known her as a struggling and somewhat successful member of AA had quite a different version. One in particular was her sponsor there, also an artist, who had witnessed how she was improving.
Her sponsor thought that Lillian might even had been trying to make amends for her past...so the investigation turned more toward that time. At the same time, however, they had discovered her present work as an artist--would it be worth more with that artist dead? There were so many plausible reasons for Lillian to have been murdered! Had she really changed via AA? Can people really change at all? This underlying theme weaves through many lives, past and present, and allows readers to ponder just how much people, including us(s), can really change?
Brilliantly presented for us as we work through the steps that the victim had walked in her life--affecting some personally, others professionally. As a reviewer, I was especially intrigued by how those in the art world quoted, memorized, and referred often to comments by critics...and their affect on the "victims" of those reviews!
Intriguing story! Investigating skills exhibited at their best. Do consider Louise Penny's A Trick of the Light!