The Long Way Home

by Louise Penny

Hardcover, 2014

Call number





Minotaur Books (2014), Edition: 1st, 373 pages


At first enjoying a peaceful retirement, former Quebec homicide detective Armand Gamache reluctantly agrees to help a neighbor search for her missing estranged husband and teams up with two former colleagues on a search that reveals the workings of a psychologically damaged mind.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lit_chick
“Canvases. Art. Deadly art.” (Ch 36)

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie, are happily retired in Three Pines. At least they were. Until Peter Morrow, who was due to return home to the village on the year anniversary of a trial separation from Clara, does not show. At her wits’ end, Clara enlists the help of Gamache. And so begins what will finally be the venerable inspector’s last investigation: and it’s an intriguing one. Peter’s movements over the past year include Paris, Venice, Dumfries (yes, an odd fit), Toronto, Quebec City, and finally rural Quebec: Baie-Saint-Paul, the dense Quebec woods, and the scenic shores of the Saint Lawrence River. And if this goose-chase weren’t trouble enough, Gamache and his faithful second and now son-in-law, Beauvoir, are led into the art world via two Quebecois college professors who share a suspect history: one celebrated by the establishment, and the other firmly rejected by same. And what on earth to make of Peter’s latest works? none of his signature structure, rigidity, sterility, but a wild abandoned mess of colour and texture – a dog’s breakfast.

The Long Way Home is a sound conclusion to Penny’s well-loved Three Pines series. I like that Gamache’s character has been allowed to age: the duress of a long police career and grave injury having taken their toll – so that he’s somewhat off his game here, but he’s real. And I love that he has retired in the idyllic village introduced to us so many novels ago.

"His face showed his age. It was worn with cares and concerns and worries. With pain. But the deepest crevices were made by laughter. Around his eyes and mouth. Mirth, etched deep.” (Ch 1)
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LibraryThing member tututhefirst
It's so hard to write about Armand Gamache stories without giving them away, and that is, in my humble opionion, the worst sin a reviewer can commit. Every time I review a Louise Penny book, I find myself saying things like "It's quintessential Louise" or "Just when I thought she couldn't get better, she does" or other blathery, toady, almost syncophantic wind-blown compliments that are almost insulting they're so inflated.


I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an ARC earlier this summer, and waited to read it until I'd finished a re-read (this time in audio) of the previous nine books in the series, and lurked along in the on-line discussions. Quel fun!

All through the series, I've never liked the character of Peter, so I wasn't sure I was going to have much sympathy for him or the people trying to find him. When I sang in the choir several years ago, our choir director tried and tried and tried to get us to master the hymn "There is a Balm in Gilead" to the point that I HATED that hymn. And to put frosting on the proverbial cake, I had a pretty negative recollection of trying to get through Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer winner Gilead when our book club read it several years ago. If this current book hadn't been written by Louise Penny, and hadn't been about my all-time favorite mystery personality, I probably wouldn't have wanted to read it. I wouldn't have wanted to see Armand's well-deserved retirement "ruined". I just wanted everything to stay in "Three Pines Fairyland". Fairyland it isn't. Life it is. The characters who have become so familiar to us continue to expand, to mature, and let us into their lives. Ruth Zardo, another of my favorite characters finally allows a tiny crack in her armor to let us in, so those of us who have loved her all along can at last begin to see why.

In the end, the only thing I can say is that once again, Louise Penny does not disappoint. She steals our heart, she takes our breath away, she causes us to lose a huge chunk of time since once we embark on this adventure, we neglect everything and everyone else in our lives. I can't wait for the publication date August 26 because I've already pre-ordered a hard back copy (something I rarely do), and the audio to go with it.

If you're not yet a fan, and think you don't like mysteries, give these a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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LibraryThing member rlsalvati
Beautiful, as always. Many books in this series stand on their own, but with this one I think you need to have read through the series to really understand Clara and Peter's relationship.
LibraryThing member nittnut
I have mixed feelings about this book. I have absolutely loved the entire series. I am emotionally attached to the characters and I sometimes have trouble remembering that Three Pines is not a real place. That makes it very difficult to review a book that didn't quite meet expectations. In The Long Way Home, Gamache and Beauvoir assist Clara in her search for Peter, who didn't come home when he was expected. I don't know if it is the fact that Gamache is retired, or that Clara runs the investigation, but the investigation takes forever. Too much time was spent in Clara's head (too much for me, anyway). By the time the investigation was wrapping up, I felt like I had been on an interminable journey right along with Clara. When it all wrapped up, I was incredibly frustrated to find that we had come all that way together only to have Peter die. It's great that he died to save Clara, but I would rather have seen him take all that hard-earned self knowledge and improved character and go home and make Clara's life happy . The narration, by the irreplaceable Ralph Cosham, was wonderful.… (more)
LibraryThing member porch_reader
This is the latest in the Three Pines mystery series, and it did not disappoint. After waiting a year to see how Armand, Jean-Guy, Clara, Ruth, and the others are doing, I dug into this installment, anxious to see what Armand would do after retiring from the Surete. It doesn't take long for a mystery to find him, a mystery that hits very close to home for Clara. Penny keeps the plot tight, allowing us to discover small clues as Armand, Jean-Guy, Clara, and the others discover them. The tension builds until Penny reaches one of the most surprising endings that I can remember in this series.

I am a huge fan of this series, and all of the things that I've loved about the previous books apply her. The writing is superb. The characters are multi-layered and now feel like old friends. The mystery itself was well plotted. I was actually glad that I was a little under the weather today, allowing me to finish the last 100 pages in one gulp. And in some ways, this was one of my favorite Three Pines books. Ruth was in especially fine form, so that added greatly to my enjoyment. And the mystery centered around the creative process, which allowed Penny to speculate on the process of creating art.
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LibraryThing member VivienneR
The story is a study in slow motion compared to the last couple in the series. I never really cared much for Peter Morrow anyway, so couldn't develop much curiosity about his no-show. There is altogether too much time spent hand-wringing and over-thinking all the possibilities of what Peter's art means. It's difficult to appreciate exhaustive art interpretations when the material cannot be viewed. I've enjoyed others in the series but found this one disappointing.… (more)
LibraryThing member 66usma
I would like to preface my comments by saying that I am not a literary critic. In addition I probably would have had a better understanding of the work if I had read some or all of the previous seven Armand Gamache books. I read for entertainment and finishing this book was laborious at best. It took at least 90% of the book to have some idea what was happening. (Some of this lack of understanding would have have been diminished by reading prior works.) Not being French Canadian, I have little interest in Province of Quebec villages, cosmic gardens, stone rabbits, or Canadian artists! What is it with writers that have to interject foreign phrases in the middle of dialogues that a lot of readers don't understand. Merde! (All is not lost I did learn a new French word!). Is it for personal, intellectual aggrandizement ? Needless to say I can't recommend this book as a stand alone work and wouldn't want to invest the time to get up to speed by reading more of this series.… (more)
LibraryThing member readerbynight
When Louise Penny writes a book, I always find it comforting. This may seem a strange word to use in light of the fact that her novels feature Chief Inspector Gamache and therefore feature a crime of some sort; murder, loss, injury, death. The author paints a picture as clearly as if she has been the artist. The fact that this book in particular features art does not detract from her word pictures. The Long Way Home is the 10th Inspector Gamache book with more to come.

At this time of his life, Armand Gamache is recovering from severe injuries to body and mind, as is his son-in-law and former deputy Jean-Guy. Both are no longer working for the Sûreté du Québec, but duty calls to them regardless. Armand Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie have found the perfect healing village of Three Pines, bi-lingual and calming, they purchased their home there a few years ago. This very small village might more easily be referred to as a neighbourhood, so close and welcoming the residents are. One would think that crime would never attempt to touch such a place, but no place is devoid of such things. But has a crime actually been committed? That is the question. Clara, what some might call a spontaneous artist, slapping paint on canvas with happy abandonment, is worried. She asked her husband to leave for one year and it is now past the time he should have returned. They are both artists, but with entirely different methodology. Why has he not come home? Is he dead or alive?

This book takes us inside the minds of several people, as most if not all the books in this series do. Louise Penny treats her creations as indiviuals she knows personally and that is what makes her books so comforting yet brilliant. We know these people. They are complete, flawed, righteous, giving, loving, supportive, in other words, they are Everyone in Anytown. As this story takes us through the growing pains of art and love, new discoveries about the population of these people are made. I love a book that teaches me something new, and this one teaches me a lot about art and its connection to heart and soul. It teaches me how to see into a painting.

Why can this group of friends not find Peter? It's almost as though he has stepped into a painting and disappeared. Yet, they are able to track his journey, but where will it take them in the end and what will they find? Clara, his wife, is sure she will find him but even the former Chief Inspector has little idea where and how to look. The journey takes this odd bunch of friends halfway 'round the globe and back. Though their journey has been extensive, it has been fruitful in an unusual way. Sometimes insight comes from surprising places. As some pieces fit together others fall apart. I loved this book for its depth of perception, its humour, its colour, its mystery, the many surprises, and the opportunity to get to know these characters and their village.
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LibraryThing member bogopea
Maybe the best Gamache book yet.
LibraryThing member SamSattler
The Long Way Home is the tenth in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series.

The previous novels have seen the inspector through cases that have left him mentally and physically shattered, but now he is happily retired to the little village of Three Pines. Gamache’s recovery has been a slow one, and although he still walks with a bit of a limp, at this point he is struggling more with the mental part of recovery than with the physical. So when his neighbor Clara Morrow asks his help in finding her husband, Gamache is reluctant to put on his policeman hat again to search for a man whose wife has not seen him for almost exactly one year.

Luckily for Gamache, he has someone upon whose help he can always call, his new son-in-law and former police colleague, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Because of what the two men have recently been through together, their bond will never be broken – even though each man believes that he is the one looking after the other, and not vice versa. And so it is, that an unlikely team of four (Gamache, Beauvoir, Clara Morrow, and Clara’s best friend Myrna Landers) forms to look for the missing Peter Morrow, a man on a dark journey all his own.

Peter’s dark journey will soon take our unlikely quartet of detectives on one of their own, a quest that will ultimately find them fighting for their lives at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in what could be the most remote village in all of Canada. It is in this little outpost that they will learn just how wrong they have been about Peter Morrow, and about why he has not returned to his wife despite his promise to come home on the one-year anniversary of his departure.

Fans of this excellent series may be surprised to learn that reading The Long Way Home starts to feel as tough an undertaking as what the Gamache team itself is enduring. The 373-page novel’s pace is slowed by too many baby-steps toward a resolution, blown investigatory theories, and obscure art theory to make for comfortable reading. And then, after all of that, the book’s climax, when it finally is reached, is too predictable to compensate for its tedious build-up. Longtime fans of the series, however, will find satisfaction in the way that Armand Gamache’s personal history is moved along, and they should not miss The Long Way Home.
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LibraryThing member gypsysmom
Another great book from Louise Penny. After I read each book I think it is my favourite. This one is no exception. It is more cerebral than her others I think but that is not a bad thing. I'm just sorry that I will have to wait until August before the next one in the series comes out.

Back in A Trick of the Light, the seventh book in this series, Clara Morrow asked her husband Peter to leave their home in Three Pines for a year. Peter's jealousy of Clara's success as a painter showed Clara how flawed Peter was. In this book the year is up but Peter has not returned to Three Pines and he has not been heard from. Clara is not sure if she wants him back but she knows she can't make that decision until she sees him. She asks Gamache, now retired with his wife in Three Pines, to help her find Peter. Gamache asks his son-in-law (and former colleague) Jean-Pierre to help him. They manage to track Peter by his bank records to Paris, Rome, Venice, a small town in Scotland, Toronto and finally to the Charlevoix region. But there the track goes cold and Gamache, Clara, Jean-Pierre and Myrna decide they have to go to the area themselves. They know Peter has been painting while he has been away because he has sent some of his paintings to his sister's child. The paintings are unlike anything Peter has ever done before. It is even hard to tell which side is the top of the paintings. The paintings are not very good but they do show emotion which Peter never showed before. Maybe there is hope for him and Clara yet?

Any worry I had that the series would falter when Gamache retired from La Surete is put to rest with this book. He will keep on doing what he does best as will the rest of the characters in Three Pines. (Ruth Zardo is still my favourite of the minor characters.)
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LibraryThing member beckyhaase
THE LONG WAY HOME by Louise Penny
This was my first Inspector Gamache novel and that was a mistake. I should have read the preceding novels first! Even at the end of the book I was still sure I was missing important nuances of plot , conversation and place.
That said, I enjoyed this book. The mystery lurks into being in the first paragraphs and keeps one on edge for the remainder of the book. The characters are well defined. The plot is rich with suspense and is logically rendered. You will care about the characters and be surprised by the ending. There is humor in the characters, especially Ruth and Rosa, as well as humanity and empathy.
If you know a bit about art and artists you will be ahead of the game. If you know nothing about art and artists you will learn a lot about their temperaments and work styles. Neither instance will detract from the story.
5 of 5 stars
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LibraryThing member cathyskye
If you've heard all the praise for Louise Penny's books and are thinking of reading this-- her tenth book to feature Armand Gamache-- first, I urge you to think again. Each book in this series is a chapter in a much larger tale; therefore, to begin reading a book at chapter ten may leave you wondering what in the world is going on.

The story of Clara and Peter Morrow has been a constant thread throughout this series, and The Long Way Home continues this story by showing us the corrosive power of jealousy. This book has much more to do with searching and less to do with mystery, which may not set well with some readers, but if you are as intensely involved in the lives of these wonderfully realized characters as I am, you will be willing to let Penny tell her story in her own fashion. For me, soul searching can be every bit as fascinating as the search for a missing person-- as long as someone as gifted as this author is telling the tale.

As Clara, Myrna, Gamache and Jean-Guy follow Peter's trail closer and closer to "the land God gave to Cain," readers are treated to conversations with beloved characters like Ruth who, in her own inimitable way, has profound advice to share. As usual with Penny's writing, gestures, glances, and words left unspoken can have great import, and conversations can range from the existence of a tenth muse to overworking a painting.

Lest the search for a jealous man become too grim, Penny shows that she can do more than bring her characters or scenes of nature and food to life. Having Clara, Myrna, Gamache and Jean-Guy experience life aboard ship is a brilliant section that gives the book some badly needed lightness and humor.

Yes, this book is a bit of a departure from the rest of the books in the series, but that's not a bad thing. Gamache is retired, so there's no way he can lead an investigation into a murder. The Long Way Home is not your typical police procedural. In fact it moves quite a distance from that particular subgenre. What this retired man can and will do is to leave his comfort zone to go in aid of a friend, and as such I found it to be a brilliant and loving continuation of Penny's series.

At the beginning of The Long Way Home, Armand Gamache looks out over the village and wonders, "Was Three Pines a compass? A guide for those blown off course?" For me, Louise Penny's creation is exactly that, and each time a new book is released, I feel the pull of that compass to remind me to return to the shelter of that small and wonderful village.
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LibraryThing member Eesil
I just went back to read the review I wrote last year for Penny's previous book, and I am glad to see that my hope and prediction came true. Unlike the last few books, this one was not focused on the Gamache and Jean-Guy troubles. While I really like both characters, I wasn't crazy about all the troubles between them and with the Surete. This book focuses on Clara and Peter and takes the reader to the Charlevoix region. It is lovely and somewhat lighter than her more recent previous books -- although without giving anything away, it has a very sad ending. As always, I will look forward to the next book.… (more)
LibraryThing member ethel55
Time and healing has passed since the end of How The Light Gets In. Armand and his wife Reine-Marie are happily retired to Three Pines, a bucolic and quiet place, filled with people who have become close friends over the years. Although very different in tone since Gamache is now retired, Jean-Guy able to take leave from the Surete, this story follows the line of a domestic mystery, rather than a police mystery. A mere year has passed since Peter Morrow left their home in Three Pines, agreeing with his wife Clara to meet up and reassess their relationship at the year's end. When he doesn't return, Clara's anxiety eventually leads her to Gamache, and a possible query for help. What follows, with Clara as lead, is a dip into their history in the art world in Canada, and the discovery that darkness and jealousy follow certain kinds of people everywhere. I reallly enjoyed Reine-Marie's slightly expanded role, and re-visiting Three Pines once a year, with all of its' glorious characters, is a perfect end to summer.… (more)
LibraryThing member kaulsu
As always, I did enjoy this Louise Penny mystery of the Three Pines community, though I felt it dragged a bit in the middle. The end moved swiftly--but so swiftly it was difficult to keep track of the clues as they were suddenly revealed. And the ending. Wow.

The community of LaPorte, in the 15th arrondissement, reminded me of the Canadian community that attracted one of the Niebuhr brothers towards the end of his life. I think it was called L'Arche, The Ark, a community that created a home for special needs adults. I need to find the proper reference.… (more)
LibraryThing member mamzel
This book makes me want to visit Canada and explore its more exotic corners. This book makes me want to understand art better. This book makes me jealous that I don't have such a group of eclectic and passionate friends. This book makes me wish I had someone like Armand Gamache at my back.

Three Pines is still one of my favorite book destinations.… (more)
LibraryThing member nyiper
I love Louise Penny and her series and I'm horrified with myself in giving this only a four stars instead of my usually enthusiastic five! I don't know what happened but this particular story just seemed to go on and on and on as the characters I know and love sat around pondering each and every aspect to an extraordinary degree. Of course this is common for Gamache and Beauvoir but with the added members of Three Pines involved---it was just what??? And the ending....sigh. I guess it had to be. I was so sorry to learn of the death of the reader for the series for the audio version a week ago--so incredibly sad. I have only read all of the books, not listened, but a dear friend has loved the CD version and I'm sure I would have, too, if I had started that way. The 1st chapter was given a connection in Penny's newsletter and I listened and also loved his voice.… (more)
LibraryThing member Mooose
This book was so dull. I cannot stand to read books that dangle something like, "What if he is dead?" over and over and over again when the reader knows that he isn't. No, not because they have read the ending but just because they know the author hadn't done that. So annoying.

Skipped lots of it, read the rest only because my book club is reading this one. Didn't ever feel the need to go back and read what was skipped.… (more)
LibraryThing member Jim53
When Clara Morrow of Three Pines asked her husband Peter to move out, they agreed that he would return in a year to sort out where things stood between them. The year has passed, and Clara has not heard from Peter. She turns for help to the newest resident of Three Pines.

Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector in the Surete de Quebec, has retired to Three Pines with his wife, Reine-Marie. They enjoy visits from her daughter and son-in-law, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, who still works for the Surete. Gamache is engaged in healing his soul of what he sees as many sins, with the help of bookstore owner Myrna, a retired psychologist. When Clara tells him of her plight, he cannot refuse to help.

Most of the story involves tracking Peter's movements and hunting for him. Even the obscene, drunken poet and duck raiser Ruth Zardo gets in on the search (although while it's fun to have Ruth along, we never see why she decides to be so involved). The characters also talk about fate quite a bit, particularly having an appointment with death. I don't remember such a focus in the previous volumes, and I wonder why it appears here.

Penny's prose is wonderful as ever. She has a lot to say about art and artists in this book, particularly the difference between operating from the head and operating from the heart. It was hard not to read that as a commentary on her own writing. I was disconcerted at several points by the "wisdom of the heart" displayed unerringly by her major characters. All too often they stare at something and have an epiphany that we don't get to share just yet. Too many of the novel's short chapters end with a character having a serious foreboding in her heart. It's almost as if Penny has taken her press clippings, which proclaim her wisdom in such matters, to heart a bit too much.

And yet... the characters remain wonderful, and they remain themselves, and they grow a bit. I really would have liked to see more of Gamache seeking balm for his soul; perhaps after this interruption he can get back to it in the next book. We see more of Myrna, which is nice, although she's guilty of some of the chapter-ending insights and foreboding mentioned above. It was enjoyable to see Gamache insisting on letting Clara take the lead at some points, and to see her wanting to do it. While much of the story moves at a rather leisurely pace, it picks up toward the end, and the conclusion is a punch in the gut.

Overall, this one is IMHO not quite as good as the last couple in the series, but it's near that level, which places it above most of what's being published these days.

I would be remiss not to mention the cover: the jacket is made of a canvas-textured paper that's very appropriate to the artist theme within. Like the story, the artwork is not quite as beautiful as last year's How the Light gets In, but it's lovely.
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LibraryThing member sleahey
Claire and Peter became separated two books ago, but their understanding was that they would reunite in exactly one year to reassess their situation. However, Peter hasn't appeared, so under Claire's leadership a car-full leaves Three Pines to track him down. Gamache is retired, but still in his chief inspector mode, Jean Guy and Myrna join them for a long trip up the coast of the St. Lawrence trying to follow his footsteps, and meanwhile reine-Marie pursues clues in Toronto.… (more)
LibraryThing member brangwinn
Another great addition to the Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series set in Quebec. Just because Gamache has retired to the village of Three Pines doesn’t mean mystery will not surround him. In this story, he helps find the husband of a friend. And of course there’s a lot more to the disappearance than expected. And with all the other books what makes Penny’s writing so strong are her well-developed characters and how the reader really comes to care about them, even the crazy poet, Ruth and her duck.… (more)
LibraryThing member vnesting
Beautifully written. Funny, sad, wise.

The most recent and arguably best in the long-running mystery series featuring (former) Chief Inspector Gamache. The plot centers around the search for a missing friend, but the joy of reading Penny's books, and especially this one, are the lovely village of Three Pines and its quirky inhabitants. In Penny's hands, the Canadian landscape comes vividly to life, and her insights into human nature stay with the reader long after the book is closed. Highly recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member jamespurcell
Complex and compelling, many journeys captured in one fateful search for an errant spouse.
LibraryThing member Twink
I can't think of a more anticipated next book for mystery fans than The Long Way Home by Louise Penny.

This is one of my absolute all time favourite series. Penny's lead character is Quebec Sûreté Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The crimes and mysteries are always intricate, well plotted and well written. There was a subtle secondary plot that began early on in the first nine books and it exponentially grew through the first nine books, culminating in a startling conclusion in How the Light Gets In.

Where could this series go after such a ending? Spoilers ahead.....

Many questions that were left at the end of book nine have been answered in the opening pages of The Long Way Home. I felt a little cheated that the resolutions surround Gamache's protégé Jean Guy had taken place without me and that life has moved on without the reader being involved. Gamache has retired to the small village of Three Pines, an oft used setting for Penny. Over the course of the series, readers have come to know and love the residents.

Some more than others. Clara and Peter are artists who make their home in the village. A year ago, Peter left, promising to Clara to return in a year to see if their marriage could be repaired. The year has come and gone with no word from him. Clara enlists Gamache in her search to find him.

So, we have a case that again utilizes Gamache's skills, albeit in an unofficial capacity. The path and the clues to Peter's whereabouts are found in a series of paintings and the world of art. Penny does an admiral job bringing her visual plotline to the written page, but I did find it a bit esoteric and slower paced than I would have liked. And okay, by the end I was tired of hearing about the upside down smile painting. Jean-Guy, after having factored so heavily in previous novels, has been relegated to the sidelines. There were some odd side stories - notably the androgynous niece/nephew Bean. As a colleague and I discussed one morning, The Long Way Home almost seems like a character study with the mystery of Peter's whereabouts as the secondary plotline.

But my real problem was with Clara. The residents of Three Pines have become quite 'real' over the course of the series. I quite like most of them - notably Ruth and her duck Rosa. But here's my problem - I was never taken with Clara to start with and throughout The Long Way Home my dislike of her steadily grew. This is a testament to Penny's writing skills, but it made it harder to become fully engaged in the case and its outcome.

I've chosen to listen to the last three or four books in this series. Ralph Cosham is the reader. His wonderfully paced, rich, sonorous voice completely embodies Gamache for me. The low, somewhat gravelly tone of Cosham's voice and his well modulated pace just draws you further into the story. His French accent and pronunciation is well done and believable. The voices he provides for other characters are just as well done. The cranky old poet Ruth is a favourite of mine. Actually, all the residents of Three Pines come alive with his interpretations, and make me wish I could visit to Three Pines and chat with them. Sadly Ralph Cosham passed away this past September.

I enjoyed The Long Way Home, but didn't love this one. Penny is at work on a new novel - and it will be one I'll definitely read. I'm curious as to where she will take Gamache et al next.
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