Friday, February 7, 2014

Escaping Winter's Chill With a Good Book

Darn, I missed this month's meeting of the Book Review Club!  But I have a good excuse--I was snowed in:)  Yes, another 8 inches fell Tuesday night, cancelling area schools once again.  I remember when I was teaching, those late night announcements of school cancellation were usually a cause for celebration, knowing I could sleep in in the morning.  But this year I have a feeling these snow days are getting a little old, as teachers and students alike must wonder if the end of the school year will come before July!

The tractor--not to mention my husband--has been getting a workout this winter keeping our lane plowed.

As for me, I'm getting a serious case of cabin fever. Roads have been plowed, and school resumed yesterday for most, but highways are still a sheet of ice, and frankly, if I don't absolutely need to go somewhere, I'm staying at home.  The chance of sliding off into a ditch isn't worth it. The best escape for me at a time like this is to curl up with a good book, but the bad road conditions also mean I can't make it to the library.  Thank heavens for technology!  I have my Kindle, but I just discovered I could download a free Nook app on my iPad, meaning I can use up some of my B&N gift certificates without even leaving the comfort of my house.  I have enough good books now to tide me over through the winter, even if it lasts till April--heaven forbid!

The first book I downloaded using my Nook app is one I had seen on the bestseller lists for several weeks--How The Light Gets In by Louise Penny.  A big mystery fan, I'm always on the lookout for a new (to me) author to read, and the reviews of this book sounded promising. I'm pretty sure I have read one of Penny's novels before, but it had been some time ago, so I decided it was time to get to better know Chief Inspector Gamache.

Inspector Gamache of the Quebec Homicide Department has fallen on hard times.  His former partner has turned against him and is now working for Gamache's nemesis, Chief Superintendent Sylvain Francoeur.  Francoeur seems determined to ruin Gamache's reputation, or at the very least, force him into early retirement. He has broken up Gamache's squad, replacing his loyal officers with subordinates who have no respect for Gamache and view him as an ineffective leader not worth listening to.  Gamache's only remaining loyal colleague is Isabelle Lacoste, who wishes Gamache would be more assertive with his unit and show them the man he truly is.

It comes as somewhat of a welcome relief, then, when an old friend from the village of Three Pines, Myrna Landers, calls the Inspector when her friend Constance fails to show up for Christmas.  Gamache agrees to look into her disappearance and makes the trip to Three Pines, an isolated village populated by some colorful characters, including the eccentric and ill-tempered poet Ruth, whose constant companion is her duck Rosa. Adding a little humor to the story is the fact that Rosa the duck seems to be welcome everywhere, even the local bistro.

Not long after his visit, Inspector Gamache discovers Constance in her home, the apparent victim of murder.  As the investigation begins, he discovers a deep secret from Constance's past: her true identity as a member of a world-famous family.  Respectful of her privacy, Gamache quietly goes about solving the mystery of her death.

Had this novel revolved solely around the murder of Constance, the book would have been a cozy light read and probably wouldn't have garnered much attention.  But there is much more to the mystery than this.  As  Gamache methodically investigates the background of Constance to discover a motive for her killing, he is also secretly trying to find a link between his superior, Franceour, and possible corruption.  This plot is much more suspenseful and action-packed.  Not knowing who he can trust, Gamache finds the villagers of Three Pines willing and helpful allies.  The tension mounts as Gamache and the Superintendent head for a confrontation that will surely be the end for one of them.

Fans of Louise Penny were probably waiting eagerly for How the Light Gets In.  Although I didn't know the backstory of the relationships between the characters,  there were enough hints in the book to suggest that the previous book ended with a cliffhanger.  Without giving away too much, let's just say that Penny fans will no doubt be satisfied with the resolution in How the Light Gets In.  As for me, I'm a new Penny fan--Armand Gamache is my favorite kind of detective, much like Thomas Lynley in Elizabeth George's series or Richard Jury in Martha Grimes' mysteries.  He is an intelligent and shrewd investigator, full of compassion for colleagues and victims alike.  Most of all, Gamache is a man of integrity.  I will definitely be checking out earlier books in the series to carry me through this long winter.

I definitely won't be gardening for awhile!

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@Barrie Summy

Disclaimer: No compensation of any kind was received for this review, and I purchased my own Nook copy of How the Light Gets In.  As always, I review only books I enjoy and think others would enjoy reading too. Next month I hope to be on time--I'm already halfway through Elizabeth George's newest Thomas Lynley/Barbara Havers mystery, Just One Evil Act.


  1. I added your link to the book review post. I ready STILL LIFE by Louise Penny and really enjoyed it. Your review reminded me that I need to catch up on the Armand Gamache mysteries. Thank you so much for reviewing!

  2. I must say the pictures of the snow are awfully pretty tho you can keep it. This winter just seems unending. Urgh. A good book is just the trick.

  3. Dear Rose I can imagine you had enough of this wintery weather. But I have to admit I love the vieuws out of your garden. You are having beautiful blue sky's and sunshine. Overhere temperatures don't come below 8C this winter but every day a new storm and grey sky's don't make people happy overhere. But I should not complain when I look what is happening in France and England with lots of floodings.
    I hope for everyone spring will arrive soon.
    Stay warm and best wishes from me.

  4. Aren't you glad you don't have to worry about getting out in all this? Your book sounds like it would be a good one. Snow flurries here today too. I am getting a little winter worn.

  5. We got 8 inches too, but we needed it. Icy roads, though, are no fun. Good choice to stay home with books. The corruption angle would add an interesting layer to a mystery. Thanks for the recommendation. Your snow photos are beautiful too.

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  7. I will look into this book! I've been reading and re-reading The Hunger Games series (love them) but am always looking for something new to read.

    February 8, 2014 at 10:47 AM

  8. Sitting back and reading seems like such a good idea this winter. I so remember when we had winters like this regularly. So many have become accustomed to short and warm winters, but it takes one like this to get people back to realty here in the North. For those in the Southern states, I can bet much of this would be new and unwelcome. Your property looks very pretty in snow, but I can tell you want the snow to give way to Spring blooms.

  9. Hi Rose, Thanks for the book "Advertisement!"

    Pretty snowy, but we've a bit more winter ahead. :-)


  10. I have been reading the Gamache books in order, and loved the twist in the end of this one. I really didn't expect it! Richard Jury and Inspector Lynley are two of my other favorite mystery series. The dialog between Jury, Melrose, and company, is always wonderful.

    I just read on Louse Penny's Facebook page that she has written another Gamache book. It has just gone to her publisher, so I imagine it'll still be a year before it comes out.

  11. I will look out for her books!
    The only thing to do when you're snowed up is to read and (for me) do jigsaws!
    With us, its a question of being rained in! No end to the watery stuff!
    Roll on Spring.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  12. Sounds like a really interesting series of books, I too like mystery thrillers with more to them than just the basic murder. Goes on the wishlist!

  13. I did not know that about the Nook app. I am now using my new iPad mini for reading. I am loving it.

    I am not a mystery reader, but this sounds quite interesting.

    Are't you glad we don't have to go out?

  14. I cannot imagine having that much snow and for so long! I like a little but I would soon be fed up and want to get out I'm sure.

    Have you read any of the Inspector Montalbano mysteries by Camillieri? Written in Italian they're available in English and I enjoy them. The inspector is a man who likes his food!

  15. Oh so cold looking and so happy you do not have to get out in it for work! Slick roads are not fun at all. All that snow does make for pretty pictures though. I love the look of a snow blanket but I am so ready for Spring now. Keep warm and enjoy that book!

  16. I do like reading detective stories as well! Seemed this book is interesting, will wait for good translation.

  17. Your winter photos look so serene and beautiful, but I know from experience how different it is when the snow is falling and the driveway has to be plowed again and a again so people can get out of the house. I used to live in Norway and we usually had 5 months of snow on the ground. I hope spring and thaw will come early for you this year, in the mean time – wrapping up warm with a good book sounds like a good idea :-)

  18. Interesting review. I don't know of Penny but I may check her out. I think my favorite mystery writers are Sara Paretzky and Tony Hillerman.

  19. Thanks for another recommendation Rose. I have been a Louise Penny fan for a while now. I got an audio book of the last one and would love to see if I can find one for How the Light Gets In. I put the audio books on as I am working and I never notice the hours slipping by.

  20. I just started an Audrey Niffenegger book called Her Fearful Symmetry. So far, it's really good. She wrote The Time Travelers Wife, which is one of my favorites. More snow days for us, too, but at least I'll be caught up on my grading. :)

  21. Barrie, Thanks for adding my link. Reading another Gamache book now!

    Tina, More snow today! But at least we're not as bad off as some people. I'd rather have snow than ice.

    Marijke, As much as I complain, I am so glad to have sunshine. Endless grey days get depressing. You're right--so many people are much worse off than we are.

    Lisa, I'm becoming a recluse this winter:)

    Sarah, Glad you finally got some snow! Yes, I'll take that over ice anyday. Getting lots of reading done this winter:)

    Sweetbay, I keep meaning to read at least the first of "The Hunger Games." Not my type of book, but I've heard so many good recommendations for this series.

    Gardenwalk, We have definitely been spoiled the last few years, so I think that's why I'm getting rather tired of winter. But I remember the late 70's--now those were real winters!

  22. Shady, it might get up to 50 next week! I'm looking forward to a break, even if it's temporary.

  23. Loveing your snow pictures (though kinda glad we don't have it)
    Here it's just storm after storm - I'm going to take inspiration from you and have a good read this half term holiday - the chores can wait!

    S x

  24. Cassi, We really do have similar reading tastes! I always felt like I was visiting old friends when Jury was visiting with Melrose and company. Maybe by the time Penny comes out with her new book, I'll have read the rest of the series!

    Maggie, I've never been very good at jigsaws; I think I'm spatially challenged:)

    Janet, When I find an author--and characters--I like, I tend to read all the ones in a series. And I'm picky about mysteries!

    Sally, I was excited when I realized I could get the Nook app for free--now I can use up more of those gift certificates I've accumulated!

    Liz, Thanks for the recommendation--I'll have to check out Inspector Montalban. Hope he doesn't encourage me to eat even more:)

    Skeeter, More snow today! It does makes for pretty pictures, but it's been so cold, I haven't wanted to venture out with the camera. Hope you didn't get hit too hard with the ice.

    Nadezda, I enjoy reading lots of books, except romances:)

    Helene, Having lived in Norway, you must know what real snow is! I shouldn't complain:)

    Jason, I love, love Sara Paretsky! That reminds me I haven't read her latest--must order that one. I've read something by Hillerman, but it's been awhile.

    Jennifer, I've never tried to listen to an audio book, but maybe that would keep me from getting bored while cleaning out the clutter here:)

    Casa, Thanks for the recommendation--I loved "The Time Traveller's Wife," too.

    Suburbia, I've decided I'd much rather have snow than ice or even tons of rain. But then I don't have to worry about driving in it everyday like those who must get to work. Hope you find a good book to relax with!

  25. I loved your book review as well as your photo of the snow. Winter here has been rather wet and mild, no snow in London whatsoever.

    Greetings from London.


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