Schadenfreude descends on the Quebecois village of Three Pines.
Clara Morrow’s solo exhibition at the Musee d’Art Contemporain in Montreal has been a long time coming. And although some seem pleased for her success in middle age, others, including a school friend turned vitriolic art critic, a gallery owner and even her husband Peter, an artist himself, wrestle with their envy. The day after the showing, back in Clara’s garden in Three Pines, Lillian Dyson, former critic, current A.A. participant and Clara’s vituperative ex-friend, lies dead of a broken neck. Armand Gamache, heading up the Sureté’s homicide division, and his second-in-command Jean Guy Beauvoir (Bury Your Dead, 2010, etc.), are called on to investigate. They soon realize the case pits sobriety against drunkenness, appearance against reality and good changes against bad. Moreover, Gamache and Beauvoir have their own demons to exorcize, stemming from a catastrophic police raid, physical and emotional rehab and a marriage that never should have happened. With suspects and old slights vying to be uncovered, it becomes difficult indeed to find “some measure of peace in the small village.”
Penny, elevating herself to the pantheon that houses P.D. James, Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters, demonstrates an exquisite touch with characterization, plotting and artistic sensitivity. And there could be no better explanation of A.A. than you will find here.