So this weeks’ Top 5 Tuesday is an interesting one. Shanah over at Bionic Book Worm wants us to talk about our top 5 books set in the country where we live. Which, in my case, is Canada.
Which means, for me at least, Louise Penny. All her books are set in the fictional village of Three Pines, here, in the province of Québec, which should make it obvious why I picked up the series to begin with. But this isn’t just your average series, this series is something special. From the setting, to the plots, to the over-all character growth from book to book. Louise Penny has crafted a series and characters that are, quite simply, outstanding.
Let me stress that while each novel can be read as a standalone, to full appreciate the character growth it’s best to start with book one. It just means you don’t miss out on these continuing arcs and threads seeded in previous books.
So, let’s talk favourites here:
- GLASS HOUSES (book 13) — 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.
- A GREAT RECKONING (book 12) — When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes. Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must. And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map.
- THE NATURE OF THE BEAST (book 11) — Hardly a day goes by when nine-year-old Laurent Lepage doesn’t cry wolf. From alien invasions, to walking trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him. But when the boy disappears, the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true. And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal. A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, it is back.
- BURY YOUR DEAD (book 6) — It is Winter Carnival in Québec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society – where an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Québec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?
- HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN (book 9) — Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life in Three Pines, finding long buried secrets–and facing a few of his own ghosts.
A stunning series that I highly recommend, especially to anyone who loves a really good murder-mystery, lots of character growth, and cleverly twisted plots.