Reviews for How the Light Gets In

Booklist Reviews 2013 July #1
*Starred Review* When we last saw Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the SĂ»reté du Québec, he was solving the murder of a cloistered monk (The Beautiful Mystery, 2012). No problem there, but in the process, his relationship with his deputy, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, imploded, leaving Jean-Guy back on prescription drugs and in league with Gamache's enemies within the police force. That situation has only worsened, as Gamache's attempts to expose corruption and evil-doing at the highest levels of the force have prompted a vicious counterattack, leaving the chief inspector vulnerable professionally and personally. Into that cauldron comes a new murder case involving the death of the last surviving sister of quintuplets, whose birth and early life prompted a Canadian media frenzy in the mid-twentieth century. The dead woman has ties to a resident of Three Pines, the idyllic, off-the-grid village outside Montreal where several of Gamache's previous adventures have been set. Penny does something very clever here, something that heightens the tension and the emotional intensity of the novel: she not only puts Gamache in harm's way but also exposes Three Pines itself to defilement, forcing the reader to face the realization that a place too good for its time may cease to exist as we know it--a cozy setting under attack from a decidedly hard-boiled world. Penny has always used setting to support theme brilliantly, but here she outdoes herself, contrasting light and dark, innocence and experience, goodness and evil both in the emotional lives of her characters and in the way those characters leave their footprints on the landscape. Another bravura performance from an author who has reinvented the village mystery as profoundly as Dashiell Hammett transformed the detective novel. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Penny's last novel received a 100,000-copy first printing. This one triples that, only one indication that, in Penny's case, literary quality and commercial success are feeding one another. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2013 September
Separation of church and Quirke

If a magical incantation were to switch all the place names in Benjamin Black’s suspenseful new novel, Holy Orders, from Dublin and Inishowen to Barcelona or Avignon, and swap the surnames from Flynne and O’Connell to Schwartz or Yamazaki, you’d still know within 20 pages that you were reading a novel set in Ireland. It is something about the brooding tone, the competing influences of the church and the bottle, the relentless bad weather and the pervasive atmosphere of despair. Whatever the secret, Holy Orders has it in spades. Early on, a long-standing character from the Quirke series is killed off, his battered body discovered in a Dublin canal by a trysting couple. Medical examiner Quirke is summoned to the scene, and he realizes with a start, “I know this person.” His investigation quickly lands him in conflict with the organization that, behind the scenes, essentially runs 1950s Ireland: the Catholic Church. Quirke and the Church have had an ongoing adversarial relationship since his youth, much of which was spent in a priest-run orphanage. This latest case will do nothing but add fuel to that particular fire in ways neither he nor the reader will anticipate. Troubling and thought-provoking on many levels, Holy Orders is one of those rare mysteries that truly transcends the genre.

While we are on the subject of “troubling and thought-provoking,” those words would apply equally well to Pierre Lemaitre’s Alex, a peculiar tale of a kidnapping that is anything but what it appears to be. The title character, Alex PrŽvost, is snatched, seemingly at random, from a Parisian side street. Her abductor trusses her up, dumps her into the back of a nondescript tradesman’s van and spirits her away to an abandoned warehouse. Well, not entirely abandoned: There are rats—a multitude of hungry, red-eyed rats. And with each hour that passes, the rats grow hungrier and bolder. Investigating the crime is Camille Verhoeven, a police inspector whose diminutive stature belies his oversize investigator’s brain. But even a brilliant investigator needs clues. Early on, there isn’t the slightest indication of the identity of the abductee, and there is only the word of a witness to suggest that the crime even took place at all. And then, inexplicably, the clues that do appear suggest that the kidnapped woman is not entirely the hapless victim she first seemed; indeed, she may be quite the predator in her own right—or not. And that is the beauty of Alex: You don’t really know until the jarring conclusion. Lemaitre’s American debut is clever, deliciously twisted and truly not to be missed.

By now everyone has heard of the ubiquitous Nigerian Internet scams in which a mark is emailed by someone claiming to have access to a fortune he (or occasionally she) needs assistance in retrieving. The mark is offered a huge chunk of change for his help in what promises to be a simple banking transaction; needless to say, the huge chunk of change actually moves out of the mark’s bank account, not into it. The name for this scam, 419, serves as the title of Will Ferguson’s riveting global tale of one woman’s revenge on the scammers who precipitated her father’s financial ruin and suicide. What sets 419 apart from the typical sting novel is that it is told from the perspectives of all the players: the family of the mark; the police investigating the suicide; the Nigerian Internet wizards who troll chatrooms and blogs in search of likely marks; and the wealthy Lagos crime bosses who take a big piece of every ill-gotten dollar funneled through their city. Surprisingly, the reader is led relentlessly toward a certain sympathy for each of the factions involved, a testament to Ferguson’s prodigious skills as a storyteller. Oh, and follow the money—where it ends up is beyond startling!

Louise Penny’s 2012 novel The Beautiful Mystery ended as something of a cliffhanger, with SžretŽ du QuŽbec Chief Inspector Armand Gamache left to preside over a seriously gutted homicide department, and his right-hand man, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, left to battle addiction demons on his own. There will be some resolution to these issues and more in Penny’s latest Gamache novel, How the Light Gets In, but not necessarily in the way you might think—or for that matter, in the way you might hope! Gamache’s investigation into a murder will take him once again to the small, snow-covered QuŽbec village of Three Pines, where the last remaining member of a once-famous family of quintuplets planned to visit before someone broke into her Montreal home and clubbed her to death. This would be a worthy plotline in and of itself, but it quickly becomes subsumed in something larger, with repercussions that will be felt all the way up the Provincial hierarchy and beyond. Ambitiously plotted, sensitively staffed and beautifully written, How the Light Gets In handily elevates Penny’s already lofty bar.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #2
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sűreté du Québec is pushed toward retirement. It's a great relief for Inspector Gamache to get out of the office and head for Three Pines to help therapist-turned-bookseller Myrna find out why her friend Constance Pineault didn't turn up for Christmas. Except for Isabelle Lacoste, Gamache's staff has been gutted by Chief Superintendent Francoeur. Gamache's decisions have been mostly ignored and bets placed on how soon he'll admit redundancy and retire. Even worse, a recent tragedy (The Beautiful Mystery, 2012, etc.) has led his second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, to transfer out of Gamache's department, fall sway to prescription drugs and hold his former boss in contempt. En route to Three Pines, Gamache happens upon a fatality at the Champlain Bridge and agrees to handle the details. But this case takes a back seat to the disappearance of Constance when she turns up dead in her home. Myrna confides Constance's secret: As the last surviving Ouellet quintuplet, she'd spent her adult years craving privacy after the national publicity surrounding the birth of the five sisters had turned them into daily newspaper fodder. Why would anyone want to murder this reclusive woman of 79? The answer is developed through clues worthy of Agatha Christie that Gamache interprets while dealing with the dismemberment of his homicide department by Francoeur, who's been plotting a major insult to Canadian government for 30 years. Matters come to a head when Gamache and the one Sűreté chief still loyal to him and her husband, a computer whiz, are tracked to Three Pines, where Beauvoir awaits, gun in hand. Of the three intertwined plots, the Francoeur scheme is the deadliest, and the Ouellet saga will remind readers of the real-life Dionne family debacle of the 1940s. But it's Three Pines, with its quirky tenants, resident duck and luminous insights into trust and friendship, that will hook readers and keep them hooked. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 July #1

This follow-up to the Agatha Award-winning The Beautiful Mystery finds Chief Inspector Gamache and the Homicide Division that he has created at his beloved SĂ»reté du Québec at their lowest ebb. His formerly top-notch division is tatters, his crack agents have scattered to other units, and his cherished lieutenant, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, has been set on a path of addiction and destruction by Gamache's greatest enemy, the head of the SĂ»reté. It appears that Gamache is being herded toward retirement by the forces arrayed against him. In the middle of this corrupt bureaucratic war, there is one more murder involving Gamache's friends in the village of Three Pines. And as Gamache works tirelessly to solve the crime, he uses the cover of routine police work to show his friends, his remaining allies, and, most of all, his loyal readers that he might appear down, but he is never out. VERDICT Penny's mysteries are really character studies. There is police procedure being followed, but the forensics take second place to Gamache's absolutely fascinating probe into the characters of every single person involved in the investigation: the police, the witnesses, and especially the suspects. He cares passionately about each person and makes the reader care. Highly recommended for mystery lovers, readers who enjoy character-driven mysteries, and those who like seeing good triumph and evil get its just desserts. [300,000-copy first printing.]--Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

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Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
While never forgetting the sinister conspiracy threatening all he holds dear, an honorable Québec detective doggedly pursues a new case. Gamache's moral compass steers him toward a breath-taking, triumphant conclusion in the must-read series's ninth entry. (LJ 7/13) (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #2

Complex characterizations and sophisticated plotting distinguish Agatha-winner Penny's masterful ninth novel (after 2012's The Beautiful Mystery). The devastating conclusion to the previous book saw Jean-Guy Beauvoir abandon his mentor, Chief Insp. Armand Gamache of the Quebec SĂ»reté, and return to substance abuse. Things have never looked bleaker for the unassuming and empathic Gamache. A corrupt superior has gutted his homicide department, and the agents he now supervises treat their cases with blatant indifference. Amid all this personal and professional turmoil, Gamache lands a strange murder case. There's no obvious motive for why somebody killed elderly Constance Ouellet--the only living member of a set of quintuplets who were national celebrities in their youth--by striking her in the head with a lamp. Fair-play clues lead to a surprising solution to the murder, while Gamache's battle to save his career unfolds with subtlety and intelligence. Once again, Penny impressively balances personal courage and faith with heartbreaking choices and monstrous evil. First printing of 300,000; author tour. Agent: Patty Moosbrugger, Teresa Chris Literary Agency. (Aug.)

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