A frozen Quebec lake, a curling competition and two recently published books form a prelude to murder.
Before she was electrocuted on a frozen pond in front of a crowd who saw nothing because they were all intent on the annual Christmas curling contest, CC de Poitiers was a recent arrival in Three Pines who was heartily disliked by everyone, including her cowed husband and overweight, constantly belittled daughter. By contrast, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache finds the village enchanting and is familiar with many of the off-the-beaten-track artistic types. In addition to his usual assistants, Gamache is assigned local Sûreté Agent Robert Lemieux, who’s pleased to sit at the feet of his idol, and lumbered with Agent Yvette Nichol, who almost ruined his last investigation (Still Life, 2006). He’s also working the death of a bag lady in Montreal, a case with surprising ties to Three Pines. As his minions collect evidence, Gamache ponders the implications of a murder that involves philosophical conflicts, psychologically damaged people and secrets from the past. His own career is jeopardized by an old case involving crooked police officers. Dangerous possibilities hover in the background as he tries to plumb the mind of the murderer.
Remarkably, Penny manages to top her outstanding debut. Gamache is a prodigiously complicated and engaging hero, destined to become one of the classic detectives.