Dead Cold by Louise Penny
Definitely a top read. This is a really enjoyable, cozy mystery, starring the wonderful Inspector Armand Gamache.
In this second book in the series, Gamache and his team and called back to the small village of Three Pines to investigate the murder of CC Poitiers.
It’s Christmas time in the quiet Quebec village and everyone is enjoying the festivities and an abundance of food and good will and neighbourly good deeds. The winter landscape plays an important part in the story as they cope with plummeting temperatures and outside conditions which threaten the life of the frail.
We meet the eccentric and wonderfully portrayed characters we met in the first book, plus some newcomers including CC Poitiers, her shy husband and her nervous daughter.
When CC Poitiers is murdered on the curling rink, one wintry morning, the whole village could have been a witness, yet they all claim to have seen nothing.
The real stars of this book are the three Graces – three old women who have been friends forever and around whom this mystery seems to revolve.
Everyone loves Gamache and is charmed by his calm temperament and determination to find the truth. However, there is a background mystery rumbling around, to do with an old case (the Arnot case) which keeps surfacing in this book but is never explained. Gamache is implicated and members of Gamache’s team are also implicated in this case, which involved corrupt officers. I expect more will be revealed in later books in this series.
The quality of the writing is great, as is the atmosphere and the plot. (The only tiny thing which didn’t suit me were the massive amounts of food and drink which seemed to be in overabundant supply, and the author did rather go on about that aspect and the gourmet food on offer at the local brasserie – still, I know I am being picky when I point this out).
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Lucas has come to stay at a cottage in Wales where he joins fellow writers for a writing retreat.
Lucas is a horror writer and he’s searching for inspiration for this next best seller.
The other guests at the house are a mixed bag with their own worries and emotional baggage. The host of the retreat centre is Julia. Julia lost her eight year old daughter, two years ago. The girl was presumed to have drowned in the local river, along with her father who dived in trying to save her. The body of the father was found but not that of the daughter, and, against all the evidence, Julia has clung to the belief that her daughter, Lily, is still alive.
Lucas is attracted to Julia and a romance blossoms. He also becomes obsessed with Lily and he hires a private detective to dig around and find out more. He begins to question the police findings. He becomes suspicious of several members of the close-knit, local community, of which his own mother and father were a part. Lucas has suffered a loss himself, and this gets thrown into the mix.
Strange things start to happen at the house – noises in the night, sounds of someone coming and going, ghostly singing. A couple of the other guests start cracking up. Lucas doesn’t believe in ghosts but the horror writer in him is hooked on the incidents and he begins to wonder what is real and what is imaginary.
It’s all pretty spooking stuff. I thought the author did the supernatural element extremely well and we see how each guest is weakened by the weird events. (I think that’s all I can say about the story – if you want to find out more you’ll have to read it.)
My favourite parts of the book were the first third, when we are getting to know the retreat group and the villagers, and the middle part where the spooky events really ratchet up.
In summary – this book is a great mystery, supernatural suspense and the author has a lovely, fluid writing style. A highly enjoyable read.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. This is my honest review.
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