Glass Houses

Louise Penny's fans will not be disappointed by Glass Houses, the 13th entry in her Armand Gamache mystery series. With compelling back-and-forth plotting and only a few casual references to the previous books, including 2016's A Great Reckoning, Glass Houses reads almost as a standalone.

As the novel opens, Gamache, the newly appointed head of Quebec's Sûreté, is testifying in a murder trial on a blisteringly hot July day. The reader is kept unaware of the victim's and the defendant's identities, as Gamache slowly unfolds the events that led to a death in Three Pines, the village where he resides. Then the story flashes back to the previous November, when residents of Three Pines are shocked by the presence of a figure in black who stands menacingly on the village green.

Penny's poetic style of writing and her deeply realized characters, with their mix of flaws and heroism, make her novels irresistible. In Glass Houses, the taut, woven plotlines show Gamache, his second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and many other characters at their best and worst.

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi that will come to haunt Gamache during the course of this investigation, "There is a higher court than the courts of justice and that is the court of conscience." Penny delicately explores the tension of an officer who may be sworn to uphold the law, but who feels compelled to do something else, in a fascinating novel that is sure to appeal to a variety of readers--whether they typically enjoy mysteries or not. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans

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