From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Complex characterizations and sophisticated plotting distinguish Agatha-winner Penny's masterful ninth novel (after 2012's The Beautiful Mystery). The devastating conclusion to the previous book saw Jean-Guy Beauvoir abandon his mentor, Chief Insp. Armand Gamache of the Quebec S?ret?, and return to substance abuse. Things have never looked bleaker for the unassuming and empathic Gamache. A corrupt superior has gutted his homicide department, and the agents he now supervises treat their cases with blatant indifference. Amid all this personal and professional turmoil, Gamache lands a strange murder case. There's no obvious motive for why somebody killed elderly Constance Ouellet?the only living member of a set of quintuplets who were national celebrities in their youth?by striking her in the head with a lamp. Fair-play clues lead to a surprising solution to the murder, while Gamache's battle to save his career unfolds with subtlety and intelligence. Once again, Penny impressively balances personal courage and faith with heartbreaking choices and monstrous evil. First printing of 300,000; author tour. Agent: Patty Moosbrugger, Teresa Chris Literary Agency. (Aug.) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. Read more From Booklist *Starred Review* When we last saw Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the S?ret? du Qu?bec, he was solving the murder of a cloistered monk (The Beautiful Mystery, 2012). No problem there, but in the process, his relationship with his deputy, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, imploded, leaving Jean-Guy back on prescription drugs and in league with Gamache?s enemies within the police force. That situation has only worsened, as Gamache?s attempts to expose corruption and evil-doing at the highest levels of the force have prompted a vicious counterattack, leaving the chief inspector vulnerable professionally and personally. Into that cauldron comes a new murder case involving the death of the last surviving sister of quintuplets, whose birth and early life prompted a Canadian media frenzy in the mid-twentieth century. The dead woman has ties to a resident of Three Pines, the idyllic, off-the-grid village outside Montreal where several of Gamache?s previous adventures have been set. Penny does something very clever here, something that heightens the tension and the emotional intensity of the novel: she not only puts Gamache in harm?s way but also exposes Three Pines itself to defilement, forcing the reader to face the realization that a place too good for its time may cease to exist as we know it?a cozy setting under attack from a decidedly hard-boiled world. Penny has always used setting to support theme brilliantly, but here she outdoes herself, contrasting light and dark, innocence and experience, goodness and evil both in the emotional lives of her characters and in the way those characters leave their footprints on the landscape. Another bravura performance from an author who has reinvented the village mystery as profoundly as Dashiell Hammett transformed the detective novel. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Penny?s last novel received a 100,000-copy first printing. This one triples that, only one indication that, in Penny?s case, literary quality and commercial success are feeding one another. --Bill Ott --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. Read more See all Editorial Reviews
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