About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

49. – 738.) How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny – The clash between Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Superintendent Sylvain Francouer of the Surete for the province of Quebec is reaching its climax. Gamache, weary from the conflict, receives a call from Myrna Landers, the bookstore owner in the village of Three Pines that her friend, Constance Pineault, has not arrived for a scheduled pre-Christmas visit.

The book develops the character of Myrna. The former psychologist is a skilled listener. While retired she is always willing to listen.

Gamache and his trusted agent, Isabelle Lacoste, go to Pineault’s modest Montreal home where they find her dead. While a case in the jurisdiction of the Montreal police they are quite ready to turn over the investigation to Gamache and the Surete.

There is no forensic evidence pointing towards a killer. Gamache is grateful to have a reason to travel to Three Pines to renew his friendships with the villagers. I am glad that the series returned to Three Pines. The books are at their best in the village. Three Pines and its residents provide a haven from the trials and troubles of the big city.

While Myrna is the closest to Pineault all are surprised that the flinty abrasive foul mouthed poet, Ruth Zardo, and her pet duck, Rosa, have a good relationship with Pineault.

The murder investigation threatens to become a public sensation when Gamache learns that Pineault is the surname of the mother of the murdered woman. She is actually the last member of the famed Ouellet quintuplets. Born to a poor Quebec farming family in the 1930’s the girls were raised by the government as a tourist attraction. Their highly public upbringing left the Quints intensely private and struggling to form meaningful personal relationships.

Who would want an intensely private 77 year old woman dead? Can her connections with Three Pines have brought about her death?

Penny sets out that the Ouellet quintuplets were inspired by the story of the real life Dionne quints. Born to a poor rural Ontario family in the 1930’s the Dionne girls were raised with equal publicity. Penny emphasizes that she chose not to learn of the actual lives of the Dionne Quints as she thought it would intrude upon their privacy.

As Gamache is looking into the murder he is being ever more isolated by Francouer and his supporters. It is clear they are planning something major but Gamache cannot find evidence of their plans.

He has one senior ally in the Department, Therese Brunel, a museum curator who entered the police force in her 50’s and quickly rose through the ranks to become a Superintendent. Her husband, Jerome, is a retired doctor and skilled computer hacker.

With their aid Gamache seeks to penetrate the secrets of the conspirators.

A few years ago I might have found a conspiracy of corruption and violence at the highest levels of Quebec’s provincial police force lacked credibility but the current public inquiry into Quebec’s construction industry has produced revelation after revelation of corruption involving Quebec municipal politicians, administrators and construction companies.

I liked the book better than The Beautiful Mystery. This book did not have a glaring lack of credibility concerning a major premise of the book.

I did find the conspiracy within the Surete a distraction from the murder investigation. In this book the effort to penetrate the conspirators takes over from the murder investigation as the major theme. I am thankful that the internal Surete battle is concluded in this book. I thought the series was better when it focused on murder mysteries. There was a great story in Constance and her sisters but it became secondary to the drama of the Surete story.

The ending makes this book well suited to a Hollywood North movie. I expect I am being paranoid in feeling this book was written with a movie in mind. Still there is a real surprise at the very end of the book for readers to discover.

I will continue to read the series. As stated it is my hope that the next book will concentrate on a murder mystery. (Oct. 10/13)
How the Light Gets In will be the 5th book I have read in the 7th Canadian Book Challenge at the Book Mine Set blog.
Penny, Louise – (2005) - Still Life; (2006) - Dead Cold (Tied for 3rd Best fiction of 2006); (2007) - The Cruelest Month; (2009) - The Murder Stone (Maybe ____ Best fiction of 2009); (2010) - The Brutal Telling; (2011) - Bury Your Dead; (2011) - A Trick of the Light; (2012) - The Beautiful Mystery (Part I) and The Beautiful Mystery (Part II); (2013) - "P" is for Louise Penny - Movie Producer and Review of the Movie of Still Life



  1. Bill - I remember reading about the Dionne quintuplets. It must have been so hard for them to deal with all of the publicity. I respect Penny for not treating them as though they were curiosity objects. I know what you mean about distractions from an actual murder mystery. I probably won't let that stop me from savouring this story because I'm a Penny fan. But I do prefer stories where the focus is the mystery.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. The Dionne Quints spent their youth as tourist attractions. The constant attention produced problems comparable to those of the child stars of today.