Last night’s temperatures were expected to dip well into the negative numbers, so I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the cold, snowy, winter evening, then under a blanket on the sofa, with Oliver curled up beside me and a book in my hand.
I love a good mystery, and one of my favorite authors is Louise Penny, so how perfect that the book I chose to curl up with was Penny’s second in a long list of Quebec based murder-mysteries. Like most of her books, A Fatal Grace takes place in a small village called Three Pines. Just north of the Vermont border, it is a quiet little village, hidden away from the main roads and not listed on any maps. I’ve read all of Penny’s books, but last year decided to reread them all in order after the release of her latest novel this past fall. I’ve grown to love all of the characters from Armand Gamache, the head of the Sûreté du Québec Homicide Division, and his wife Reine-Marie, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, his friend and lieutenant, and Three Pine residents, Peter and Clara Morrow,resident artists; Myrna Landers, a retired psychologist who owns the bookstore next door to the Bistro; Ruth Zardo, the rude, obnoxious, elderly drunken poet; and Olivier Brule` and Gabri Dubeau, a fabulous gay couple who own the bistro and B&B. Whenever I pick up a Three Pines story, I am instantly immersed in the life of the village. Oh how I dream of living in a village just like it, eating at the Bistro every night, browsing the used books or sitting down with one in a comfy wingback chair next to the wood burning stove with a cup of creamy hot cocoa and a fresh home baked cookie.
This particular story takes place during the Christmas season where temperatures in Quebec reach well below zero and snow can pile several feet high. As the wind howled and the snow flurried around the street lamp outside my window, I completely plunged into the lives of this colorful cast of characters as they try to figure out who could have murdered CC de Poitiers, an angry, vindictive woman whose death nobody seems to be overly upset about.
Penny’s books are vivid with descriptions of life in Montreal and Three Pines. You can practically taste the food served at the Bistro and feel the warmth of the eiderdown comforters on the beds at the B&B. You can smell the cold winter air and hear the laughs of the villagers and the barks of their dogs as they chase snowballs around the village green or watch their children skating on the frozen pond. It’s no wonder that I can lose entire evenings whenever I pick up one of her books. Three Pines is my happy place.
It’s going to be another cold night, so I think I will curl up once more with this marvelous book and pretend that I am sitting in front of the wood burning stove in Myrna’s bookstore, sipping on a Cafe` Creme` from Olivier’s bistro. Maybe tonight I will find out who did it!
For those of you who are interested in reading Louise Penny’s books, you can check out her website at http://www.louisepenny.com