Glass Houses (reviewed below), the 13th installment in the Armand Gamache mystery series, is "both a title and warning," according to author Louise Penny. "We might not think people see who we really are, but they do, because our actions give us away. And in case any of us feel superior, the warning goes a step further. We all live in a glass house. We are all visible and vulnerable. We are all being judged."
Penny continues: "This book examines, among other things, that judgment, and uses as its theme a quote from Gandhi: "There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts." This is something that has long troubled Penny. "It seems obvious that a conscience is a good thing, and the thing to most fear are people without one. And that is, I believe, in broad strokes, true. But I also wanted to explore what happens when we come face to face with someone whose conscience is not in agreement with our own. After all, how many vile deeds, truly terrible acts, are justified by people saying, 'I was just following my conscience.' "
Penny admits that such individuals "don't see them as terrible acts at all. They see what they do as justified, and our own actions as vile. And then there are people in power. Politicians. Judges. The police. It appeared to me that Gandhi's quote was both a call to action, an agent of change, but also danger. What happens when cops take things into their own hands? When they know that the courts cannot do what is necessary. Armand Gamache is faced with just such a decision. And, as a man of powerful conscience, he is aware that whatever he chooses to do will follow him, haunt him, for the rest of his life." --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers