But first, all the gushing. Allow me to get all of this out my system and say that I love Louise Penny. I love this series of mystery novels featuring Chief Superintendent Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. I love the recurring characters and I love the small fictional town of Three Pines so much I want to fictionally move there and fictionally live the rest of my days drinking fictional wine and eating croissants in the cafe. I love all of it, so I have no ability to build suspense when I tell you that I loved her latest, Glass Houses.
Glass Houses is the thirteenth in her series and it is dark and twisty and brilliant. This series, along with Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, are in my humble opinion, consistently the best current mystery series’ out there. Our beloved Gamache is now Chief Superintendent and he is working hard to fix all the corruption that has plagued the department for years. He realizes that the most important battle to be fought is the war on drugs, because it is driving and increasing all of the other crime in the area and beyond. He and his very small circle of trusted allies decide to hatch a secret war. A highly dangerous and deadly war that they acknowledge they will probably not win. And even if they do, it will probably end their careers in the process.
Glass Houses is set up a bit different than most of Penny’s other books, interestingly. We start the story with Gamache testifying at a murder trial and the scenes alternate between the trial and scenes from Three Pines that flash back to the murder itself, and the secret war intertwines throughout. The murder story involves the sudden appearance of a Cobrador in Three Pines. A Cobrador is a hooded figure in black robes who just stands in the middle of the village center, saying nothing at all but signifying a debt to be paid. Super creepy, right? Yeah, super creepy. No one can really do anything about this creep, but eventually they disappear and a body is discovered, and it’s up to Gamache to figure it all out.
I’m going to halt on the plot there because I don’t want to reveal too much, but I can tell you that once again the mystery is airtight and smart as hell and the outcome will change many things about the series going forward. This is my favorite mystery of the year so far. These books are written so that you really could pick up any one and dive in, but if you’ve never read them, I would suggest you go back to the beginning with Still Life and block out the next couple weeks of your life.
Glass Houses – Grade A