Monday, September 15, 2014

Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Books



Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is the main reason I'm completely enthralled with the mystery writer Louise Penny's books--and that her literary books have a quality that ranks high with me, namely that they don't belabor the point. 

Here is a link to the official Louise Penny website.

If you like mystery books go to her site for a list of all 10 books in the series so far. I've never been hugely into the mystery genre since it seemed as if no one could compare to Dorothy Sayers, especially her Gaudy Night. Louise Penny has won me over with each successive book. I'm more in love with Armand Gamache with each book and with the characters of Three Pines in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, even with my man Armand's wife, the lovely Reine-Marie Gamache. After getting to know Reine-Marie in the books it is easy to see why Armand is such a happy, content and kind man.


"Watching Reine-Marie as they sat on the balcony,
Gamache was once again struck by the certainty he'd married above himself.
Not socially. Not academically.
But he could never shake the suspicion he had gotten very, very lucky…
none more than having loved the same woman for thirty-five years.
Unless it was the extraordinary stroke of luck that she should also love him."
[Trick of the Light]





Place is important in Penny's books and important to Gamache as he solves the mystery mainly by sheer listening, listening to possible suspects and listening to what their homes say about them.


"Gamache loved to see inside the homes of people involved in a case.
To look at the choices they made for their most intimate space.
The colors, the decorations. The aromas.
Were there books? What sort?"
[The Cruelest Month]




Food is important in Penny's books, some of the best of which is served up at Olivier's Bistro in Three Pines, the kind of restaurant we all look for, trying to find one where we belong. Another Cheers--where everybody knows your name place. The second time I read the series I kept a notebook of the mouthwatering food served to guests of the Bistro. 




One meal Armand had there: Lobster bisque flavored with cognac, coq au vin with a hint of maple, young beans and glazed carrots, creme brûlée. [The Cruelest Month] Order me that please!

Jean-Guy, Armand's second in command ordered: Filet mignon with cognac blue cheese sauce. [Bury Your Dead] Jean-Guy is the man younger readers have a crush on. 

Clara orders: Creamy seafood chowder with chunks of salmon, scallops and shrimp, baguette and sweet butter. [Cruelest Month] Who is Clara, you ask, if you haven't read the books yet? Ah, Clara, she's another part of the stories.

"For many years Clara would remember how it felt standing there.
Feeling again like the ugly little girl in the schoolyard.
The unloved and unlovable child.
Flatfooted and maladroit, slow and mocked.
The one who laughed in the wrong places and believed tall stories,
and was desperate for someone, anyone, to like her.
Stupid, stupid, stupid…
the balled up fist under the school desk."
[Still Life]




Armand Gamache understands Clara, and others like her.





"Was there an invisible world, Gamache wondered.
A place where diminished people met,
where they recognized each other?
…The sort others cut off in conversation,
cut in front of in grocery lines.."
[A Rule Against Murder]




Can you tell that I'm a fan of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache? I'm also very much a fan of the lovely author Louise Penny, who wrote these characters to life. I hope she keeps them coming our way. On her website she says: "If you take only one thing away from any of my books I'd like it to be this: Goodness exists." 

As with all books in a series, I've loved them to a lesser or greater degree but I cannot resist committing myself to my very favorite of all. I could not put down number nine in the series, How the Light Gets In. It even rivals Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy Night. I can't give much higher praise than that, and it was named by the Washington Post as one of their top five fiction books of the year. 

Good reading, everyone!


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