In the last six weeks, I've read books 4 through 10 of this series - a full half dozen experiences with Inspector Gamache. It has become the book series that is closest to my heart.
I don't really entirely understand what Penny is doing with her series, but one thing that I know for sure is that this is more than disconnected murder mysteries. I love Agatha Christie, but her 41 Poirot books stand independently. You can read one, without reading any others, in any order at all.
This series is an effort to map the world, to heal humanity in a small Quebecois town that feels like Shangri-la. I'm continually emotionally off-balance as I read. Penny intersects art, and life, and reality in such an amazing way that I find myself reading with computer close at hand, so I can google:
The Garden of Cosmic Speculation
And Somerset Maugham's Appointment in Samarra.
Because they are all referenced in the book in such a way that I need to know more about them.
This book is almost unbearable to read, and the ending is terrible. Not because the writing is awful, but because of the opposite. It's so beautifully constructed that is makes my heart stop, and the ending is so sad and inevitable that it felt like a train bearing down on me.
I'm relieved and sad that I'm caught up. Although book 11 comes out this month.