Louise Penny's mysteries are finally being filmed for TV, something aficionados of her books have been eagerly waiting for. At the left is a librarything photo of Louise Penny and Nathaniel Parker (aka Inspector Lynley) in the Quebec town of Standbridge East, where Still Life was filmed. It will be released in Canada in 2013.
In this eighth book in the Gamache series, A Trick of the Light, many of the residents of the small town of Three Pines reappear: Clara and Peter Morrow, Olivier and Gabri, Myrna, and of course, Ruth. These characters continue to deepen as we learn more about them in each book. This story focuses on the Montreal art world and the paintings of Clara and Peter.
The other important "setting" for this novel is Alcoholics Anonymous. Louise Penny is a recovering alcoholic and she presents AA and its members sympathetically but with a keen eye to their struggles and failures. The theme of this book is forgiveness, something many of the characters are trying to accomplish with varying degrees of success.
Clara and Peter give a party at their house in Three Pines and the following morning a body is discovered in a corner of their garden. The dead woman is an artist, a former art critic who was a close friend of Clara when they were children who went on to become a vicious critic of many painters, ruining their careers. Years ago she went off to New York. Why is she now back in Quebec? Who would want to kill her? In answer to the last question, pretty much half of the painters, critics, and dealers in Montreal's art community.
Story lines from earlier books return and progress, things like the recovery of Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Armand Gamache from the shoot-out in a previous book, the rocky love life of Beauvoir, the competition between Clara, whom Penny describes as herself, and her husband, Peter Morrow, and the fraught relationship between Gamache and Olivier, the co-owner of the town bistro and B&B. The delicious descriptions of the food Olivier and Gabri serve in their bistro continue. The sweetness of the little town of Three Pines pervades the story. And of course Ruth, the poet, continues to sit on her bench on the common throwing stale bread at rather than to the birds.
Penny's mysteries get better with every new book. Which is saying something as she won the Agatha award for four years in a row and the Anthony award twice. Her first novel, Still Life, won the New Blood Dagger in the UK, the Arthur Ellis Award in Canada, and the Dilys, Anthony, and Barry awards for best first novel in the US.