Book Review: The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

Long Way HomeOne of the top reasons I love Louise Penney’s books is the quality of her continuing characters. Armand Gamache, the main character, is for me, the rock at the center. The supporting characters, circle around Gamache as they play various roles in the drama.

The other top reason I love these books is that each one is a different story that explores a different part of the “community” of Three Pines and Quebec. We met Clara and Peter in Still Life, the first book in the series. As the series progressed we saw the conflict grow between them. It was complicated, but what it boiled down to was Peter’s jealousy of Clara’s growing success as an artist.

At the end of the last story, How the Light Gets In, Clara and Peter separated. They agreed to spend a year apart with no communication. They said they would meet up on the same day a year later. But now, it’s a year later, Peter did not show up, and no one has any idea where he is.

Reluctantly, Clara asks Armand Gamache for help. She’s reluctant because Armand is now retired and enjoying his stress-free life in Three Pines. Gamache is a man who willingly helps his friends so, of course, he helps Clara.

Helping to find Peter isn’t that easy. Armand turns to his former sidekick (and now son-in-law) for help. Jean Guy helps track where Peter has been via his credit card. That works until Peter goes off-line. Friends from Three Pines take turns visiting some if the places where Peter went in order to gather the clues.

Finally, Armand, Jean Guy, Clara, Myrna, and a new character travel way up north to the last place Peter was known to be. It’s there that we witness the very dramatic conclusion.

As much as I wanted to read The Long Way Home within a couple of days of it’s release, I read it slowly as part of a four week read-a-long sponsored by the publisher. I’m only partially glad I did that. I liked reading it slowly and thoughtfully, but I didn’t like all the negative, nit-picky comments on the read-a-long website. Many of the commenters read the whole book and then commented (with spoilers) during the first week. I quit after the second week.

LouisePennyI admit to a prejudice toward loving these novels based on all ten of them. I like spending time with these characters, and I like the setting of a small village in Quebec. In every novel I learn something interesting. In this novel I learned a lot about art and what motivates good artists.

My only complaint about this novel was this: I missed the former Chief Inspector’s investigation of a murder. He still went into action to solve a mystery. It was very satisfying, but not a murder mystery. In past novels Gamache has solved complicated crimes while fighting corruption within the police and political system. Now that he’s retired, all that is behind him. I think Louise Penny is going to have to bring him out of retirement in future novels. He’s too valuable to hide out in Three Pines.

That’s my recommendation for Louise Penny but, what do I know. She’s a very smart author and I won’t be surprised if she comes up with something different in future novels. And that’s why I will continue as a Louise Penny fan. In additon, I recommend Louise Penny to you. If you haven’t read any of her books, do start at the beginning. Here’s the list, in publication order. To read my review, click the title.

Still Life
A Fatal Grace
The Cruelest Month
A Rule Against Murder
The Brutal Telling
Bury Your Dead
A Trick of the Light
The Beautiful Mystery
How the Light Gets In

I read this book via audio. I’m very fond of hearing Ralph Coshon’s voice as the narrator for these books. (I think he really is the chief inspector.) Macmillan audio has very kindly offered a snippet of the audio version so that you can see why I prefer the audio. Just click this link:

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5 Responses to Book Review: The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

  1. diane says:

    How sad that Inspector Gamache is in retirement – I loved his character. still need to try this one.

  2. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I have yet to try one of her books and I have several of them here.

  3. I was disappointed in this one … darn it. Hate when that happens with a favorite author. Partly I think because of the retirement/no murder thing that you mentioned and partly because the whole reason for the mystery investigation just didn’t feel real to me, nor did the ending… just improbable. I feel sure Louise (and Armand) will bounce back in the next. I definitely won’t give up.

  4. Mystica says:

    I’ve read just one book – I did not even know it was a series so thanks for the update and the review.

  5. Ti says:

    I have not read a Penny novel yet! I guess when I do, there will be plenty for me to choose from.

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