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Friday, June 1, 2018

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Published in 2017, 388 pages, another tale set in the fictional village of Three Pines, featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache who has been promoted as chief of the entire Surete.  The author's notes, page 391, "Some might argue that Three Pines itself isn't real, and they'd be right but limited in their view.  The village does not exist, physically.  But I think of it as existing in ways that are far more important and powerful.  Three Pines is a state of mind.  When we choose tolerance over hate.  Kindness over cruelty.  Goodness over bullying.  When we choose to be hopeful, not cynical.  Then we live in Three Pines."  

 I will mention that I am not enjoying all the same sex partners and relationships that the author keeps introducing into the novels, I wonder if she has taken up this cause and wants to push readers tolerance.  Not so sure I will read many more of her novels if this is the pattern.  

Noble sentiments are woven through the characters who reappear in this novel, which Louise Penny finished after the death of her husband in 2016.  Glass Houses introduces and embellishes on  a Spanish custom/legend, the cobrador del frac.  The cobrador appears in the center of Three Pines causing the villagers to wonder and  become agitated by its presence after days.  The cobrador legend ranges to medieval times and today in Spain exists, dressing in top hat and tails , following debtors to shame  and embarrass them into paying their debts.  In this novel the cobrador is a conscience not a debt collector. I did enjoy this nostalgic history, embellished or not.    
Back cover

As in other novels there is a murder to be solved but this time the body is discovered in the church basement by Reine-Marie, Armand's wife.  They have moved to Three Pines as a refuge from the hustle and bustle of Montreal.  The Novel begins in late fall, Page 15, " It was the beginning of November and the weather wasn't letting them forget it.  ...November was the transition month.  A sort of purgatory.  It was the cold damp breath between dying and death.  Between fall and the dead of winter.  It was no one's favorite month."   I must disagree because November is my birthday month!

This is a  rather contemporary mystery about drugs, cartels, and the ongoing war on drugs between the law enforcement agencies and the criminals, the dealers,and  the kingpins. Armand has admitted and realized that law enforcement is losing the war on drugs but he has a careful, long term view to wind the final battle.  Page 39, "The war on drugs was lost a long time ago.  That was bad enough, but what's happened is the knock on effect.  If drugs are out of control, it isn't long before we lose our grip on all crime..  We aren't there yet."   

Page 204, "It had started as these things did, naturally enough.  As steps in the grieving process.  But where the final step should have been acceptance, the person had veered off.  Stepped away from the path and walked deeper and deeper into sorrow and rage.  Fueled by guilt.  Until they'd gotten themselves all turned around.  And when they were well and truly lost, they'd found refuge.  In revenge.,"

Page 303, "Corruption starts small, often justifiable.  A white lie.  A minor law violated for the greater good.  And then the corruption, like a virus, spreads."  This novel revolves around that corruption embedded into the depths of government of the law.    I was not fully surprised by the real story behind the guilty parties and felt that part of the novel dragged on along excessively.  

I give this book a 4 ****, worth reading but not a favorite for me.  

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