Winner of the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Crime Novel 2016
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.
Retired DCI Gamache takes a new job as head of the police training school. The book starts with him sifting through candidate files, who should become the next set of new recruits. One in particular stands out – Amelia Choquet. Gamache, along with Jean-Guy, as his second in command, starts cleaning up the school which had been over the past few years bent to the desires of evil elements. Gamache is taking risks. Then he sets four recruits, including Amelia, a task involving a strange map found when the bistro in Three Pines was refurbished. And then there’s a murder. DCI Isobelle Lacoste is brought in along with an independent observer from the RMCP. Is the murderer a student, a professor or from elsewhere? Misdirection is everywhere and the investigation comes to a head as the RCMP officer pushes Gamache as chief suspect. Will he be proved right, will the truth emerge?
Well plotted and beautifully written by Louise Penny A Great Reckoning engages you straight away. There are several threads to the book – a murder, a mysterious map, a quest, an investigation set both in the college and in Three Pines. What is it about Amelia? What is Gamache doing and why? And you are hooked.
Yes, we meet once again with Ruth, Clara, Myrna, Olivier and Gabby as well as Jean-Guy, Isobelle and Reine-Marie along with newer characters. All are wonderfully drawn and it is this characterisation that brings the wisdom, the humour that is such a big part of what this series, this book is all about. Human frailty, endeavour and desire; of friendship, honesty, trust and the pursuit of truth. It is this at the core of the books which keeps so many, myself included, coming back.
Louise Penny weaves another wonderful story which is so much more than a murder mystery. Yes, it is a murder mystery very well written, but it is also about second chances, those who take them, grasp for them and those who don’t, won’t, can’t.
A Great Reckoning is #12 in the Gamache Series (#13 Glass Houses is out now in hardback)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group https://www.littlebrown.co.uk/
Number of pages: 512