A will and a twisted way in Three Pines thriller

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Books - By Oline Cogdill Cor­re­spon­dent Oline H. Cogdill can be reached at [email protected]

Louise Penny’s nov­els take the reader to the idyl­lic-sound­ing Cana­dian town of Three Pines, where a di­verse group of res­i­dents thrive on their sense of com­mu­nity and the beau­ti­ful land­scape. But these res­i­dents also know that malfea­sance can lurk just un­der the sur­face.

The pic­turesque view can be de­cep­tive. A heavy snow is beau­ti­ful to watch from the safety of a “a cheery hearth.” But it also can be deadly for those who don’t re­spect how bru­tal na­ture can be. “A Que­bec win­ter, so cheer­ful and peace­ful, could turn on you.… In the coun­try­side, win­ter was a gor­geous, glo­ri­ous, lu­mi­nous killer.”

No one knows this bet­ter than Chief Supt. Ar­mand Ga­mache of the Sûreté du Québec, mak­ing his 14th ap­pear­ance in the en­thralling “King­dom of the Blind.” Ga­mache has found Three Pines to be a refuge from his high-pro­file job, and, now on sus­pen­sion, needs that sense of sanc­tu­ary more than ever.

But where Ga­mache goes, so do mys­ter­ies. He, his neigh­bor Myrna Lan­ders, a psy­chol­o­gist-turned­book­seller, and the young stranger Bene­dict Pouliot, a builder, are named ex­ecu­tors for the will of an el­derly wo­man who called her­self the Baroness. While Ga­mache and Myrna know each other, none of them were ac­quainted with the Baroness, and the trio is not sure why they were cho­sen. The terms of the will also are con­fus­ing, and be­fore they can work with the will, a key ben­e­fi­ciary is killed.

‘King­dom of the Blind’

By Louise Penny. Mino­taur, 384 pages, $28.99

As Ga­mache, along with Myrna and Bene­dict, look into the mur­der, the chief su­per­in­ten­dent also con­tends with his sus­pen­sion that hinges on a drug in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Mon­treal. That in­ves­ti­ga­tion was set in mo­tion in Penny’s “Glass Houses.” While “King­dom of the Blind” can be en­joyed with­out read­ing the 2017 novel, savvy read­ers will not want to deprive them­selves of an­other visit to Three Pines.

Penny pulls to­gether an in­sight­ful plot that weaves in fam­ily feuds, clan­des­tine in­ves­ti­ga­tions, un­der­cover cops and a lov­ing look at Three Pines.

“King­dom of the Blind” re­al­is­ti­cally ca­reens from one sur­pris­ing turn to the other. Each twist fur­ther echoes the un­pre­dictabil­ity of na­ture and peo­ple “…both beau­ti­ful and alarm­ing. Com­fort­ing and omi­nous. As though na­ture were try­ing to de­cide whether to pro­tect or con­sume the lit­tle vil­lage.”

Meet the au­thor

Louise Penny dis­cusses “King­dom of the Blind” at 7:30 p.m. Thurs­day at Mi­ami Dade Col­lege Chap­man Con­fer­ence Cen­ter, Wolf­son Cam­pus, 300 NE Sec­ond Ave., Build­ing Three, Sec­ond Floor, Mi­ami. Cost for two peo­ple, in­clud­ing one copy of “King­dom of the Blind,” starts at $28.99 plus fees. The cost for one per­son to at­tend a spe­cial meet-and­greet with Penny, in­clud­ing one copy of novel, also starts at $28.99. De­tails at book­sand­books.com/ events.

JEANFRANÇOIS BÉRUBÉ

Au­thor Louise Penny’s thrillers take place in the idyl­lic-sound­ing Cana­dian town of Three Pines.

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