Book Review: How the Light Gets In

Author: Louise Penny

Publisher: Minotaur Books, August 2013

Genre: Mystery

Source: Public Library

Format: Audiobook, Read by Ralph Cosham

My Rating: A+

I’ve been reading Louise Penny’s series of mysteries two years ago when several fellow book bloggers recommended her to me. They are wonderful mysteries – well plotted and beautifully written. As you may remember, I was reluctant to read her eighth and ninth books because that is all she has written so far. I didn’t want my Louise Penny reading to come to an end.

But then, a couple of months ago I started reading Book 8, The Beautiful Mystery. The book was, of course, up to Louise Penny’s high standards, but – it left me hanging. The mystery was solved but the circumstances of some of my favorite characters were unsettled.

There was no way I could wait long for Book 9. I could hardly wait to get it, much less read it slowly and savor it. So, the minute I got the newest book, How the Light Gets In, I started in on it. It picked up where Book 8 left off and I was happy.


**Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read Book 8, The Beautiful Mystery, you may want to skip down to the end of this review. I find it impossible to talk about some of the events in How the Light Gets In without mentioning some of the events in the previous book.


As How the Light Gets In begins we see that Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is even worse off than when we last saw him in the previous book. All but one person in his once illustrious homicide division is gone. Now the department is filled with detectives who are lazy, dishonest, and definitely disloyal to Gamache. Chief Superintendent of the Surete, Francour, is doing everything he can to sabotage Gamache and force him into retirement.

Equally as disturbing is the fact that Jean-Guy Beauvoir is no longer with Gamache. For years Gamache had been Beauvoir’s mentor and a welcome member at family events. But now, Beavoir is hooked on pain-killers and is both a physical and psychological mess. He’s also working for Chief Superintendent Francour.

Superintendent Francour has been an enemy to Gamache for years. He is intent on destroying Gamache. But, even worse, Francour has plans to elevate himself at the expense of thousands of people. Over a period of a few days Gamache and a few loyal friends set out to figure out Francour’s scheme and, somehow, stop him before it’s too late.

While all of that is playing out there is another problem, this one coming from the village of Three Pines. The bookstore owner, Myrna, asks Gamache to check on a former client (Myrna is a retired psychologist) and friend. When Gamache finds the friend, she is dead, murdered. As Gamache investigates, he discovers she is the remaining member of a set of famous quintuplets. (It will remind you of the Dione quints.)

The ending of this book made me very happy. Everyone gets involved in solving the murder of Myrna’s friend, including key members of the village of Three Pines. The mystery surrounding Chief Superintendent Francour comes to a very tense and terrifying conclusion. (The good guys win and there’s a surprising twist involving Ruth, the rude and famous poet .)

Overall, this is a complex novel, but one that is very satisfying. Louise Penny picked up plot-threads that have been brewing since her first book in this series and brought them to a conclusion. As usual, the author gave her readers something to think about. Gamache and other characters wonder how it’s possible for some of the detectives to turn and become dishonest.As an answer, Gamache (and Louise Penny) quote from a song by Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring,

Forget your perfect offering,

There’s a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.

And there we have a little philosophy and the title of the book.

An excellent book that I highly recommend.

Louise Penny has a lovely website here: Louise Penny and a fun Facebook page here: Louise Penny on Facebook  The photography is amazing on both sites, well worth looking at.

I listened to How the Light Gets In. Ralph Cosham is Armand Gamache for me and, evidently, for Louise Penny as well. There is a very interesting interview between the two of them at the end of the book reading. In it Louise Penny confesses that Ralph Cosham’s voice is the one she hears when Gamache speaks. Nice.

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3 Responses to Book Review: How the Light Gets In

  1. I’ve got to try one of her books! This sounds right up my alley!

  2. glad you loved this one as well. I DO ENJOY THIS AUTHOR.

  3. Mary says:

    I picked up the first in the series recently and hope to read it in January. Now I’m thinking I should listen to it!

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