Book Review: GLASS HOUSES


DETAILS

Title: GLASS HOUSES
Author: Louise Penny
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN: 9781250066190
Genre: Crime | Mystery

BACK COVER BLURB

When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.

From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montreal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back. More than the accused is on trial. Gamache’s own conscience is standing in judgment.

WHAT I THOUGHT

Gripping, suspenseful, powerful and, by the end, shocking!

This is, by far, the most powerful novel I’ve read in years. And I know from what others have said, that GLASS HOUSES has also affected them too. Because, for us, dedicated fans of Louise Penny’s series these people are as ‘real’ to us as our neighbours. And the tiny village of Three Pines is somewhere we know, not just between the pages of a book, but as if we go there every summer, for our holidays.

I know, for me at least, Armand Gamache has become as real to me, as if calling up a memory of my father, or grandfather. So good is Penny as creating her characters, at bringing them to life, that we feel we know these people, and not just in passing. We’ve lived and breathed with them. We’ve followed with them across the village green. We’ve sat listening in on their conversations at the bistro. Or stayed at the B&B and are on a first name basis with Oliver and Gabri. We’ve popped into Myrna’s shop for a book and eavesdropped while she’s chatted with Clara or Reine-Marie.

We’ve sat in the back seat of an unmarked police car, racing through the Québec countryside in the middle of the night, with Gamache and Beauvior, heart pounding. And ducked for cover at the sight of Ruth striding across the green towards the Bistro, duck in hand, with a crazed look on her face. That, or she needed to pass gas.

We’ve laughed and cried, been shocked, and surprised, and become close to these people. As close as you can, to a character in a book.

All this to say, that Louise Penny has made us believe. Believe in this place, and believe in these people and their lives. So much so, that GLASS HOUSES is a reading experience that will leave a mark on your heart. I’ve laughed, chuckled (a lot), raised an eyebrow, stared at a page, eyes wide open in disbelief. And yes, at one point, when it all started to makes sense, when all the strands carefully woven by Louise Penny started to show themselves as a very clever, written tapestry, of facts and misdirects: I cried, because I knew what was coming. It was inevitable. It was necessary. It was shocking.

And even now, as I write this knowing what I know, I’m still reeling from the emotional jolt my system has taken.

Why? Oh, indeed, why. How I would love to tell you and in detail, the why, the whereof, but in doing so, in telling you I would undermine everything Penny has strived for in writing GLASS HOUSES the way she has. And I, for one, will not destroy the trust she silently asks of us. You will just have to find out for yourselves.

GLASS HOUSES is at once a murder mystery, courtroom drama and a thriller, but it’s also so much more. It’s a character study in and of itself, and a masterclass in how to write characters. Characters, who, on doing something you never thought possible, have you staring at the page in disbelief and yelling at the character, NO! DON’T DO IT!

Tense, tangled, elusive, twisted, clever, heart-pounding and, at one point, gut wrenching, GLASS HOUSES is everything you could want in a read that has such a deep, moral, compass at the heart of every story: Armand Gamache. A man you wish with every fibre of your being, was real, so compelling is his mystique.

I don’t think the reading of this novel will ever be eclipsed, for so many reasons. So for me, I’m going to give it the highest rating possible. Louise Penny, for me at least, is the undisputed master of suspense.

Rating: 10 / 10

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8 Comments

  1. January 15, 2019
    Reply

    Thanks, Vera, it would spoil the moment for you, and Norrie, if I let slip! I really didn’t want to do any kind of spoiler because this is a book people need to read for themselves and to find out what it is I’m talking about, on their own.

    And yes, it’s probably the only book I might ever give a complete 10 too. Though, Penny has just had published, KINGDOM OF THE BLIND, which is next up on my TBR … so I will just have to see if she manages to top this one, or not!

  2. January 14, 2019
    Reply

    I’m with Norrie, I also NEED TO KNOW that why!! What a wonderful review Alexandra, I can feel how much you enjoyed Glass Houses – 10/10 is as good as it gets and I’m so happy this book gained that 10 from you.

    It does sound like a wonderful thiller and I am making a note to read it. Carefully woven stories & amazing characterisation appeals to me too. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. January 14, 2019
    Reply

    Oh, damn! I want to know why! 😀
    You put me on the edge of my seat just with your review!

    • January 14, 2019
      Reply

      Ha! Exactly! Which is what the author’s intent is. She really plays the twisted card on this one, with all the different little threads leading up to … pow! 😉

  4. January 14, 2019
    Reply

    Wow wow wow! It seems that author is pretty talented at telling a tale and making you believe you are living it! Fantastic review Alexandra!

    • Alexandra
      January 14, 2019
      Reply

      Thanks, Sophie. Louise Penny has spent almost a decade writing these characters and with each book, there’s something new. And always, the characters grow. It’s like a long term character study at its best.

  5. I love it when people are so passionate about a novel they read! Fabulous review, I already read one of her novels before and I’ll have to add this one too!

    • January 14, 2019
      Reply

      Oh, I’m a big Louise Penny fan, Inge. And Glass Houses is an outstanding read on so many levels. It left me speechless, it was so goo.

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