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Glass Houses



Glass Houses

By Louise Penny


Visiting Three Pines, the town in which this story takes place, is like coming home.  In this instalment of the Inspector Gamache series (and I hope there will be many more), we find our favorite detective surrounded by a cast of regulars, as well as a few new additions.  Much like the original Star Trek series, we know ahead of time that one of the new people will die.  Our beloved regulars are safe.


Penny’s writing offers more than just a puzzle to solve, however.  There are questions of morality and duty, and here she adds the notion of “the greater good”.  Is it acceptable to sacrifice the few for the many?  Where do you draw the line?  When are you playing God with the lives of others?  When do you stop? These are not light themes, but Penny handles them with sensitivity and they add depth to this narrative, making it so much more than just a mystery.


Set in the fictional village of Three Pines in modern day Quebec, we ponder these ideas while the Inspector wages war on drug dealers in Canada and the U.S.  This is a topic that touches us all; we have watched it on the news, and we may even know someone affected directly.  As Gamache considers his role and the lengths to which he will go to win this battle, Penny kills off yet another visitor to Three Pines (a dangerous place to visit).  The actual mystery occasionally seems incidental to the moral dilemma, but it is always interesting and the murderer is not easy to spot. 


Everybody’s favourite character, Ruth, the poet, is back and we learn a little more about her in each volume.  For some reason, people gravitate to this rude, cantankerous, drunken woman.  Perhaps it is because she is so deeply flawed that we feel comfortable in her presence.  She would seem to be beyond redemption, neither seeking it nor offering it. I speak of her as though she was a real person and this is the beauty of Penny’s novels.  They feel real and we feel like we belong there.  Welcome home.

Glass Houses by sonja_library