Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bouchercon Book Revirews #5

I'm excited to share two more reviews with readers, reviews of books that include one long-time favorite author in Louise Penny and one new-to-me author in M.J. Rose. 


How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #9)How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I just now finished reading How the Light Gets In, and I am spent.  My emotions have survived a roller coaster ride that has taken me to the dark edge of despair to the bright light of hope, and then they have been flipped over and over again.  If you have read the previous eight books of this series, then you have already fallen in love with Armand Gamache and his supporting cast of characters, many of whom live in the fiction world's most beloved village of Three Pines.  And, because of that love, there is nothing for it but to become immersed in this current story to the point of feeling all the anguish and joy that it contains for your favorite characters.  I not only read the story, I lived it.

Number eight in the series, The Beautiful Mystery, left reader with a troubling cliff hanger.  Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir had returned to his pain pill addiction with a good hard push from a manipulating Chief Superintendent Francoeur.  Chief Inspector Gamache had sent Jean Guy back to Quebec in hopes that Beauvoir would get help.  In How the Light Gets In, the suspense of that outcome is answered in the beaten-down, pill-popping form of Gamache's once second-in-command.  Now working for Francouer, Jean-Guy has turned against Gamache and the two no longer speak.  Gamache's crack homicide unit has slowly been dismantled by Francoeur, leaving only Inspector Isabelle Lacoste to help Gamache amidst new, untrained, and disloyal team members.  But, Three Pines is blessedly the same peaceful village removed from the corruption and turmoil of the world outside its isolated valley.  Gamache is called to Three Pines by Myrna Landers, who owns the local bookstore, to investigate the disappearance of a friend from Montreal who was overdue for her arrival in the village for a Christmas visit.  When a late arrival turns into a murder, Gamache begins to unravel a back story of national interest, but he is able to contain its secrecy.  The deeper, more distressing problem/mystery with which Gamache must deal and try to unravel is what the corrupt Francoeur and his team are up to, a matter that threatens to involve and destroy all that Gamache holds dear, even his safe haven of Three Pines.  There is a ticking clock that must be stopped, but it must first be discovered who is the puppeteer holding the strings and what is the means by which the final blow will be struck. 

Louise Penny has accomplished what I thought impossible, a story that continually disturbed me and, yet, a story I absolutely embraced with complete enthusiasm.  She can combine the terrible with the heart-warming better than any other author.  The inhabitants of Three Pines--Clara, Myrna, Gabri, Olivier, Ruth and her duck Rosa--along with Gamache and his circle of friends and family--Reine-Marie, Annie, Jean-Guy, Isabelle, Yvette, Therese, and Jerome--are so much more than characters in a book.  They are friends we are privileged to visit and from whom we glean hope, not only in their world, but ours, too.  The quote by Leonard Cohen upon which the title of the book is taken conveys that hope perfectly and is yet another gift from this book.  "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."
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SeductionSeduction by M.J. Rose

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The title of this novel is suggestive of a book of romance, but the "seduction" that plays out in the lives of the characters is a much more powerful seductress than love.  The controversial belief in reincarnation and its connection to past lives and troubled memories provides a maze which must be navigated in order to answer questions crucial to the present-day lives and sanity of two tortured misfits who possess unusual insights into times before they existed.  The island of Jersey in the Channel Islands contains the key to the tragedies of the past which must be sought out and linked to those still living.  Victor Hugo's interest in reincarnation and his many seances he held while living on the island play a major part in unlocking all the secrets that must be discovered, including a dark force that almost destroyed him and that still poses a danger a century and a half later.  

Coming into a series that already has two books prior to Seduction was not as problematic as I feared.  I was able to enjoy this novel without confusion over earlier events, even though said events were referred to at times in the book.  What did happen is that I now want to go back and read those novels, as I'm convinced that M.J. Rose in this reincarnation series has struck a chord of interest and intrigue for me, which will compel me to read more.  Great atmosphere and complex characters, along with a suspenseful plot, make Seduction a book easy to be taken over by.
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