Armand Gamache, former chief inspector of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec, is settling into retirement in the idyllic village of Three Pines—but Gamache understands better than most that danger never strays far from home.
With the help of friends and chocolate croissants and the protection of the village’s massive pines, Gamache is healing. His hands don’t shake as they used to; you might just mistake him and his wife, Reine-Marie, for an ordinary middle-age couple oblivious to the world’s horrors. But Gamache still grapples with a “sin-sick soul”—he can’t forget what lurks just beyond his shelter of trees. It’s his good friend Clara Morrow who breaks his fragile state of peace when she asks for help: Peter, Clara’s husband, is missing. After a year of separation, Peter was scheduled to return home; Clara needs to know why he didn’t. This means going out there, where the truth awaits—but are Clara and Gamache ready for the darkness they might encounter? The usual cast of characters is here: observant bookseller Myrna; Gamache’s second in command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir; even the bitter old poet, Ruth, is willing to lend a hand to find Peter, an artist who’s lost his way. The search takes them across Quebec to the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, toward another sin-sick soul, one fighting to claw his way out of jealousy’s grasp. Penny develops the story behind Peter’s disappearance at a slow, masterful pace, revealing each layer of the mystery alongside an introspective glance at Gamache and his comrades, who can all sympathize with Peter’s search for purpose. The emotional depth accessed here is both a wonder and a joy to uncover; if only the different legs of Peter’s physical journey were connected as thoughtfully as his emotional one.
Gamache’s 10th outing (How the Light Gets In, 2013, etc.) culminates in one breathless encounter, and readers may feel they weren’t prepared for this story to end. The residents of Three Pines will be back, no doubt, as they’ll have new wounds to mend.