Louise Penny’s second book, A Fatal Grace (2006), is convincing me to jump on the Three Pines Mystery band wagon.
Spiritualist author CC de Poitiers and her family have moved into the dreaded Hadley house, scene of Inspector Armand Gamache’s last Three Pines case, and her hateful ways are perfectly suited to that location. She has stolen business ideas (her “Be Calm” book title is also the name of the spirituality center of Three Pines’ Mother Bea), verbally eviscerated her own daughter on Christmas Eve, had an affair with a photographer to get him to take the cover photo for her book, cobbled together a fake philosophy called Li Bien that claims people would be happier without emotions, and offended pretty much everyone over something. So it’s not surprising when she dies.
The method of CC’s death is more unexpected: she’s electrocuted at a village curling match. As Gamache and his team get a better understanding of how this might have been accomplished, they begin to see how complex the plot must have been, and their investigation allows them to get to know many of the villagers on a deeper level than in the previous book.
A secondary story line involves the Quebec Sûreté and Gamache’s team itself — who’s on it and why. There are more cryptic references to the Arnot case, first mentioned in Still Life, and this story arc is the biggest reason that the books should be read in order (I’m not making a prediction, it’s just that I’m so far behind on writing reviews that I’ve already finished the third book in the series).
Perhaps the one thing I don’t like about the series so far is that Gamache is so perfectly perfect. His team adores him, he always does the right thing, his style of policing is better than everyone else’s, and he always catches the killer. He could use with a little of the humanization that Penny brings to the witnesses and suspects in Three Pines.
Nonetheless, this is a series that I’m going to run through in no time and then sit around waiting for the next book to be released.