Louise Penny’s last book, How the Light Gets In, ended with the resignation of the homicide chief of the Sûreté du Québec, but also with the hint that he wasn’t really finished with investigation.
The Long Way Home runs with that notion.
A number of characters were killed or injured at the conclusion of that last book, but by the time this one picks up, all the main characters are healthy and happy where they should be. All but one: Peter Morrow.
Morrow’s wife Clara is a successful artist whose career suddenly and surprisingly surpassed that of her husband. His inability to enjoy or even appreciate her success led her to ask him to leave, but they decided he’d come back in a year so that they could decide what to do about their marriage. A year later, he’s failed to come back, and so she asks Armand Gamache to help her find him.
The fact that he’s no longer an inspector doesn’t really cause any problems; Gamache’s new son-in-law Jean-Guy is an officer and can access databases and so forth without any trouble. In addition, his replacement at the Sûreté is one of his most loyal officers, one who can be relied upon to help. So Gamache, Jean-Guy, Clara and her best friend/Armand’s therapist Myrna leave Three Pines in search of Peter.
As with earlier books, some of the clues lie within art and on an artist’s (or poet’s) inability to interpret clues the rest of us might miss. At times that’s a little annoying to me, someone with no artistic ability whatsoever, because I can’t see how they could deduce as much as they do from someone’s art, but maybe I’m just jealous.
The Long Way Home lacks the punch of some of Penny’s earlier books, but I suppose that’s to be expected since the last book provided the grand finale of a multiple-book story arc. I ordered the audiobook from Amazon.com prior to a long road trip to Alabama, and it sure made the drive a lot more entertaining.