" When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes. Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must. And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map. Everywhere Gamache turns, he sees Amelia Choquet, one of the cadets. Tattooed and pierced. Guarded and angry. Amelia is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up. And yet she is in the academy. A protégée of the murdered professor. The focus of the investigation soon turns to Gamache himself and his mysterious relationship with Amelia, and his possible involvement in the crime. The frantic search for answers takes the investigators back to Three Pines and a stained glass window with its own horrific secrets. For both Amelia Choquet and Armand Gamache, the time has come for a great reckoning. #1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny pulls back the layers to reveal a brilliant and emotionally powerful truth in her latest spellbinding novel. "--
A Great Reckoning opens in Three Pines to fresh snow, and breakfast of café au laits and almandine croissants at The Bistro. Gamache is reading and coding personnel files. As retirement continues to allude him, he has taken a new post as head of the Sûreté's training academy, and is hell-bent on cleaning up the merde left behind by Chief Superintendent Francoeur. But surprisingly, even as Gamache makes sweeping changes to curriculum and admissions, and dismisses several staff, he keeps on the “most senior and corrupt professor, Serge Leduc” and “the quisling Michel Brébuf.”
Experienced enough not to expect a smooth transition into his new position, Gamache is prepared when he takes up office at the Sûreté's training academy – but not for a murdered professor. Four young cadets who were protégées of the deceased are prime suspects – among them Amelia Choquet, whom Gamache himself recently recruited. Tattooed, pierced, guarded, and angry, Choquet is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up – and yet here she is. Still more odd, discovered with the body is a copy of an intricate, old, orienteering map that had been found stuffed into the walls of The Bistro and presented to Gamache as a gift when he started his new job. The investigation soon turns toward Gamache: to his mysterious relationship with Amelia Choquet, and his possible involvement in the crime.
I’m so delighted that Penny has continued to write her Three Pines series. The characters have become old friends, and the quaint village in Quebec’s Eastern Townships is, I think, a place I’d like to retire! Highly recommended, both A Great Reckoning and the entire series.
"The real criminals, the worst criminals, weren’t found off the beaten path. They were found in our kitchens, at our tables. Unspectacular and always human.” (Ch 34)
Although this was a fantastic read, it was a little bittersweet. My mom and I read this series together. Every August, we would buy the next installment. She'd always finish first, but would wait patiently for me to finish so we could discuss the latest events in Three Pines. Ruth was her favorite character. She would have loved this one.
Now, having expressed that I am a diehard fan, I must admit that the last few books have not been my favourites. I found them distinctly slower paced following on the heels of the long building Sûreté corruption scandal. With a resolution in hand, Gamache has retired and permanently moved to the quaint and quirky town of Three Pines.
Penny combines the best of both worlds in this latest offering. A map is found in the walls of the Three Pines bistro. It's an odd, old map, but is definitely depicting the village of Three Pines. But the village does not appear on any current maps and unless you know it's there, you would not be able to find it. Why is that? And what is the old map pointing to? But retirement hasn't lasted long for Gamache. He has again taken up the challenge of ridding the Sûreté of corruption - this time in the cadet training college.
Penny's plotting is at the top of her game in A Great Reckoning. Gamache has an intricate plan to rid the college of corruption. But there are those plotting just as hard against his actions. When a professor is killed, the stakes are raised for everyone.....
What can I say about this series? It's absolutely wonderful - I love all of the characters. I've become invested in not only Gamache, but the residents of the village and their personal lives. It's hard to pick a favourite - but I am drawn to the grumpy old poet Ruth. She has hidden depths behind the façade she presents to the world. And darn it, I would love to live in Three Pines! As I said, the plotting is intricate and intriguing and incredibly well played. I truly had no idea where Penny was going with this latest.
When Ralph Cosham died (he embodied Gamache for me) I wondered if I could get used to the new reader. And the answer is yes, I have. Robert Bathurst has a lovely rich voice with an English accent, but he handles the French words and accent very well. His tones are modulated, again embodying Gamache's character. (He rarely raises his voice) He's easy to understand. He also provides different voices for the large supporting cast. I particularly like his voice for Ruth and her duck.
Just an excellent listen and I'm so looking forward to the next in this series.
There’s a second mystery in this novel, concerning the origins of an orienteering map found in Three Pines. Gamache assigns four cadets to investigate, initially as a training exercise. The stakes are raised when it seems possible the map is linked to the murder. And throughout the novel, there are hints Gamache has a personal connection to one of the recruits. Louise Penny ties it all together masterfully, while continuing to develop the characters in Three Pines and at the Sûreté. Loved it.
Louise Penny has such a winning combination in these books. The characters, I always wonder if I actually met Ruth if I would like her, and well all of them, all add something special. There is friendship, love, caring and cunning, loyalty and a very smart, wonderful man in charge. In this book I ran through a gambit of emotions, fear, wonder, laughter and yes, one part even brought me to tears. How many authors can accomplish this? Even some of the bad are more than just that. So I take away a very important point, " Don't believe everything you think." just love that quote. Also, make sure you read the acknowledgements, they are extremely heartfelt.
ARC from publisher.
Armand Gamache has decided to come out of retirement to head up the Surete Academy which is where all the people who become police officers in Quebec receive their training. He was responsible for cleaning up the rot in the Surete itself just prior to retiring to Three Pines but he has decided that many of the problems still exist because of the training given in the Academy. He fired many of the old staff and brought in new professors of his own. However, there are a few curious decisions he has made. He asked one of the senior people disgraced in his purge of the Surete to come back to teach ethics. This man was once his best friend, best man at his wedding and godfather to his children and the revelations about his corruption hit Gamache hard. Almost as bizarre was his decision to keep the Academy's second in command in place since he had proof that the man had been involved in price gouging and other financial improprieties when the Academy was built.
Back in Three Pines Madame Gamache has settled in well and is helping the historical society catalogue the vast amount of material it has collected over the years. It is natural that she would dig in when Ruth Zardo is turned loose on a box of materials that were found in the walls when the bistro was renovated. The discovery of an old hand drawn map of the surrounding era is the best find. Olivier has the map framed and gives it to Gamache when he starts his new job so that he can find his way home. The map will go on to play a major role in the book. When The Duke (the aforementioned second in command) is found murdered in his rooms at the Academy a copy of the map is found in his bedside table.
There are some hints at the end of the book that Gamache will not be staying on at the Academy. I can hardly wait to find out what new challenges await him.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I love the subplot about the history of Three Pines that has its residents and some of the cadets searching archival materials. And I love that we finally learn why Three Pines doesn't appear on maps. I wasn't as satisfied with the murder plot. It isn't as well-paced as many of the earlier novels in this series. It also felt like a rehash of the plot of the last book in the series. That plot centered on big guns used for warfare; this plot centered on hand guns. I hope Penny has worked the gun topic out of her system with this book.
Many of the books in this series explore an emotion. This book explores fear – of failure, of making the wrong decision, of the exposure of long buried secrets. Penny must have been wrestling with her own fears as she wrote this book. The acknowledgments at the end of the book reveal that her husband is suffering from dementia. My heart goes out to her.
This review is based on an electronic advance readers copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
Louise Penny's bestselling Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series needs no introduction. This is the twelfth in a series that has had its ups and downs - the middle books, in my opinion, were the strongest - and is not the best. However, I did enjoy revisiting favorite characters and discovering new ones. I did not guess the whodunit, but did guess another piece of the mystery so the last words didn't have quite the impact they were intended to. Recommended to fans of the series.
A second mystery, back at Three Pines emerges when a wall repair in the B&B revealed a trove of old papers including a map that brought up a lot of question.
Merging these two stories together we have a story that slowly grows and shows itself to be more complicated than it seemed at first.
This episode seemed, somehow, a little slower than previous books, with clues painfully slow to be revealed. If any lesson is to be learned, it's how small our world really is.
There is so much to love about this book as a story but the kicker is the afterward where the author talks about her husband and the struggles with his health. It hits very hard because I read it just two days after reading that he had died. Powerful, moving and heartbreaking.
Unlike some of the others in the series, there isn’t a huge amount of suspense. If you care to, you can probably figure out whodunit and you can probably figure out the mysterious new character. This isn’t a problem, however, as the strength of these books lies in the characters and their relationships, not in thriller plot twists. In that regard, this addition to the series doesn’t disappoint.
However, the subplot of the mysterious map (just mentioning something that’s on the cover, no spoiler) is rather tantalizing and made this a very enjoyable read. The resolution to this was one of the best parts of the book.
As always, recommended.
The acknowledgements made me cry.
A wonderful, precious writer is Louise Penny.
A great book, not to be missed, is A GREAT RECKONING.
Ms. Penny’s writing always lifts me up - my own moment of zen.