This review was originally posted on amazon on April 7, 2012:
I picked this book up either for free or for 99 cents at least a year ago. It is the first in Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series of mysteries set in Three Pines, Canada.
This book is deceptive. Looking at the cover, reading the product description, I went into the book thinking that it was going to be a classic cozy mystery set in a small town. While this book does have many of the attributes of a cozy, there is much more to it than that. This book is a compelling psychological study of a small town, of the difference between the public persona and the private person. It explores parenthood, childhood, and the differences in perspective between parent and child, and it also explores what happens when a parent allows a child to drive the community understanding of the parent/child relationship, where the child is not telling the truth. There are reasons that parents don't tell the truth, even when the truth is that the child is lying. This book explores those, and delves into the darkness and jealousy that can be harbored in the heart of a loved one.
I know that this paragraph is obscure. However, mysteries, above all, are books that should not be spoiled. It's not fair to the reader, and it's not fair to the author, to accidentally reveal the solution to the mystery in a book review. So, a clearer and more spoilerish discussion is not one that I am prepared to post.
I really enjoyed this book. Starting a new mystery series is always a delight, because a reader is in for a treat in character development. Inspector Gamache is a bit of a cipher in this book, but he is already a compelling, interesting central character. I look forward to further exploration of his character. I'm hoping for the return of some of the interesting secondary characters as well.