A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #18), by Louise Penny

Eight stars

Louise Penny returns with another sensational story once again highlighting the characters of Three Pines, Quebec. While the town may be quaint, the people are feisty as ever, kept together at times by Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. When a case from his past rocks him and resonates into the present day, Gamache cannot help but remember and try to bring new closure before those around him and affected once more. Penny spins her storytelling web and reminds me why I love this series so much with each new novel.

While the community of Three Pines, Quebec is known for its bucolic nature, there are deeply troubling moments that emerge at the least opportune times. Armand Gamache and his son-in-law, reputable members of the Sûreté du Québec, have done well to keep the peace, but when two young people return to the area, it sends them into a tailspin of panic and memories.

These two were children when their mother was brutally murdered, which was only the tip of the iceberg. Revelations soon emerged about countless amounts of abuse, which crippled those working the case. Some wonder just how innocent they were at the time of their mother’s death.

When Gamache discovers an old letter that speaks of a major secret in Three Pines. Soon thereafter, a secret room in one of the community’s buildings is discovered and the whole town wants to be part of the action. Some speculate about what awaits them, while others simply want a glimpse to whet their appetite. All the while, an old foe of Gamache’s makes his return, resonating deeply and forcing the senior Sûreté detective to take notice. Nothing could prepare Gamache for what he learns, or the blowback that awaits him. There is so much to handle and little time too wonder in this chilling mystery that will turn Three Pines into a place of panic once again. Penny does a masterful job in yet another addiction to this highly addictive series.

There are few authors I have discovered over the years who can write so fluidly and enticingly about Canada than Louie Penny. She knows her stuff and keeps the reader in the middle of each story. Strong writing and powerful plots are complemented by characters who evolve and devolve simultaneously, but never to the point of disappearing completely. While Three Pines may be a lovely destination, it is anything but boring with Louise Penny’s pen.

The narrative flow of the book is matched only by the other novels in the series. Penny sweeps in and hooks the reader with the opening phrase, refusing to lessen her grip until the final sentence resonates. Characters with depth and sassy intrigue fill the pages as well as a setting that is second to none. Great plots and complex journeys to follow them is the key to Penny’s writing, which forces the reader to enjoy or be left behind. The Canadiana in the book is like no other, giving me that warm feeling without becoming stereotypical. There is so much to enjoy here and I cannot help but find myself excited to see what’s next for a writer who never seems to run out of ideas!

Kudos, Madam Penny, for proving that Canada does deserve its placate on the map of strong settings for stellar mysteries!