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Friday, 9 December 2016

‘The Nature of the Beast’ by Louise Penny



Published (US) by Minotaur Books,
25 August 2015.  (HB)
ISBN 978-0-2500-2208-0
26 July 2016. (PB)
ISBN: 978-1-2500-2210-3
Published (UK) by Sphere,
20 October 2016. (PB)
ISBN: 978-0-7515-5268-3

From the publisher:  Hardly a day goes by when nine-year-old Laurent Lepage doesn’t cry wolf.  From alien invasions, to winged trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him.  Including Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache, who now live in the little Quebec village.  But when the boy disappears, the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true.  And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth.  What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal. Leads right to the door of an old poet.

This is the 11th book in the series, which all take place in and around the Quebec village of Three Pines, variously described as lost, hidden in the hills, and not on any map or GPS, in the middle of nowhere, and a place where “getting lost was almost a prerequisite for finding the place,” despite all of which it seems also to be the site of a very old, and potentially monstrous, weapon

All the residents of the village are present, and the many fans of the series will welcome them: Gamache, now in his late fifties and retired from the Surete; Chief Inspector Isabella Lacoste, who holds the office previously held by Gamache, who has now been offered the job as Superintendent, heading up the division that oversees Homicide and Serious Crimes but doesn’t seem keen to come out of retirement; Myrna, a large black woman who runs a new and used bookstore and was once a prominent psychologist in Montreal; Ruth Zardo, an eccentric, award-winning poet, and Rosa, her beloved pet duck; Gabri and Olivier, the lovers who run the bistro and the B&B; Monsieur Beliveau, the grocer; Clara Morrow, an artist and portraitist; as well as Henri, Gamache's German shepherd.  Crucial as well is Jean-Guy Beauvoir, a Surete officer in his late thirties, formerly Gamache's second in command and now married to his daughter.  A new character is Adam Cohen, Lacoste’s trainee and protégé at the behest of Gamache, who plays a key role in the intricate plot. 

Three Pines, and its residents, remain as charming as ever. An interesting note is found in Gamache’s revelation that he was raised by his Jewish grandmother, which explains his familiarity with Yiddish expressions.  As always the writing is never less than elegant, and the book is recommended.
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Reviewer: Gloria Feit

Louise Penny was born in Toronto in 1958 and became a journalist and radio host with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, specializing in hard news and current affairs. My first job was in Toronto and then moved to Thunder Bay at the far tip of Lake Superior, in Ontario. It was a great place to learn the art and craft of radio and interviewing, and listening. Louise had always dreamed of writing and says ‘ now I am. Beyond my wildest dreams (and I can dream pretty wild) the Chief Inspector Gamache books have found a world-wide audience, won awards and ended up on bestseller lists including the New York Times. Even more satisfying, I have found a group of friends in the writing community. Other authors, booksellers, readers - who have become important parts of our lives. I thought writing might provide me with an income - I had no idea the real riches were more precious but less substantial.’  Louise lives with her husband Michael in a small village.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.








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