Book Review: A Fatal Grace

A FATAL GRACE | Louise Penny
(Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #2)
02.15.2011 | Minotaur Books
Rating: 4/5 stars

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Winter has blown in to Three Pines, leaving the Quebec village to look like the inside of a snow globe. While the days near closer to the joys of Christmas, the countdown to murder is also fast approaching. Three Pines has recently gained some new residents, the unlikable shrewd business woman CC de Poitiers, her mousy husband Richard, and their verbally abused daughter Crie. CC has surrounded herself with a family that doesn’t enjoy her company, a lover who hates her, and now a town that wants her gone.

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Had CC de Poitiers known she was going to be murdered she might have bought her husband, Richard, a Christmas gift. She might even have gone to her daughter’s end of term pageant at Miss Edward’s School for Girls, or ‘girths’ as CC liked to tease her expansive daughter. Had CC de Poitiers known the end was near she might have been at work instead of in the cheapest room the Ritz in Montreal had to offer.

The day of the town’s big Christmas celebration has arrived and villagers are gathering for breakfast and a curling match on their frozen pond. CC and her family have made an unlikely appearance at the event. As the tournament carries on a murderer springs to action and CC de Poitiers is suddenly dead. Despite the villagers dislike of CC they band together to attempt to save her life. In order to get to the bottom of what has happened Inspector Gamache makes his return to Three Pines with his crew of detectives. Gamache must uncover how CC could have been electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake with every pair of eyes in the village on her. Every resident of this village is a suspect as Gamache hunts for a killer. Who could be brave enough to commit a murder with everyone watching?

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“You need to know this. Everything makes sense. Everything. We just don’t know how yet. You have to see through the murder’s eyes. That’s the trick, Agent Lemieux, and that’s why not everyone’s cut out for homicide. You need to know that it seemed like a good idea, a reasonable action, to the person who did it. Believe me, not a single murderer ever thought, ‘Wow, this is stupid, but I’m going to do it anyway.’ No, Agent Lemieux, our job is to find the sense.”

Louise Penny immediately builds a case for hating CC de Poitiers, which places the reader on the same team as the rest of the Three Pines community and unsure if they’re in fact sad about her fate. The ever lovable and intriguing Gamache is back on the case stringing readers along with subtle clues that make you wonder at the end of the book, how did I not catch that? Penny has the ultimate knack for a slow build towards the unveiling of a murderer. Once again in this series the reader is given a cozy setting with likable characters while also working through a killer’s motivation. Light-hearted mixed with murder is something rarely pulled off successfully and Louise Penny is proof it can be done!

If you’re looking to chat with other Louise Penny fans about the Inspector Gamache series, head over to the Penny Pushers Goodreads group and join in!

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