Tuesday, August 30, 2016
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
Once again, Penny combines two storylines, bringing the outside world to Three Pines. It all begins with a discovery in the wall of the bistro, newspapers and magazines. And, a map. It's certainly an odd map. And, Olivier and the villagers gift it to Armand Gamache when he takes over his new position at the Sûreté Academy, where they train young people to join the Sûreté de Quebec . It's a map that will impact Gamache's position, the investigation of a murder case, and four cadets from the Academy. In fact, because of that map, four young people will arrive at Three Pines, that magical village that appears just when people need it. And, those are four needy cadets.
There's really no need to summarize A Great Reckoning other than to say there are two investigations, one into a new murder, one into the story of the map. Gamache is the linchpin with his connection to Three Pines and the Sûreté Academy. And, because of that map, because of a cadet, Gamache himself is a suspect.
Louise Penny has had an overarching storyline in her books about power, and the corruption of power. In Gamache's new role,"He was judge and jury. The first and final word. And Armand Gamache realized, without great surprise, that it was a role he was comfortable with. Even liked. The power, yes. He was honest enough to admit that." Power.
Penny shows the use and abuse of power, along with the contrast between darkness and light. It's light that finally reveals the secrets and stories of the map. And, of course, there's Gamache himself, the symbol of light, with his kindness, his hope for the cadets, his power.
I read A Great Reckoning twice in the last week. When I read Louise Penny's books, I find myself savoring the words, the phrases. I reread the conversations involving Ruth. Those are often the humorous touches, the dry humor. I look up W.H. Auden's poems, such as "Herman Melville" to read the poem that Ruth and Gamache quote, lines about goodness and evil, the heart of Penny's books. Despite the beauty of the poem, of so many sentences, my favorite this time is from Gamache. "Not every mystery is a crime. But every crime starts as a mystery. A secret. Some hidden thought or feeling. A desire. Something not yet illegal that evolves, with time, into a crime. Every homicide I've investigated started as a secret."
What can I really say about A Great Reckoning? It's the best book I've read this year, the only one I've read twice. It's light and hope and kindness overcoming the darkness and ugliness of the world. It's one man, Armand Gamache, whose smile and kindness can change the future. It's Louise Penny's latest gift to readers.
Louise Penny's website is www.LouisePenny.com
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny. Minotaur Books. 2016. ISBN 9781250022134 (hardcover), 389p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.