Take a late Medieval English Village, add a Quebec French culture including a Bistro, a boulangerie and a book store for new and used books.

Locate this village in the Eastern Townships, La Belle Province, a very few kilometres from the state of Vermont.

Population unknown, Roman Catholic Chapel available, colour of bilingualism and biculturalism, add a plot line which involves one Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, Armand Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie and a number of other characters who make appearances in various novels by Louise Penny.

Call the village Three Pines and for a bit of fun add a duck called Rosa who is constantly saying “fock, fock fock”. Further add Henri, an older German Shephard lost from his original master and now attached to the Gamache family; Henri imitates Rosa with “quack, quack, quack”.

There is a plot line, of course, having to do with Police, sometimes homicides and so on.

Eventually one understands that Three Pines has a somewhat mystical side and seems to collect humans with physical, mental and/or spiritual wounds. These people have suffered – which is the human condition.

Mystical, magical, archtypal - never in a way that strains belief but always looking to the soul and its primary healing treatment of love.

This love is of all the different types we know, whether romantic or familial but it tends in Louise Penny’s novels to be the love expressed for one another as neighbours and friends.

The author has available any number of angles to see the subjects of her books and in her novels she makes wonderful use of the artist’s lens and works of poetry.

Mde. Penny uses those lenses to explore her world of the detective novel. Woven into the chapters are the insights brought into focus – the character and behaviour of her villagers and the influence of love; and sometimes of the absence of that love and its dreadful effects on individuals and families.

Gentle to read, often a touch of humour, always the knowledge that we are exploring the nature of humans.

Exploring the human condition is, of course, the business of writing.  And Louise Penny does a masterful job of it.



Louise Penny is the author of a series of novels featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec

She was a resident of Toronto’s Rosedale, comparable to Montreal’s Westmount. Our reviewer has read many of her books and reflects on the common themes of each and all.

Some titles are:

The Long Way Home

A Rule Against Murder

Kingdom of  the Blind

Bury your Dead