Synopses & Reviews
CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone in the hamlet of Three Pines, right up to the moment she died. When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache begins his investigation, it seems like an impossible murder: CC was electrocuted on a frozen lake, in front of the entire town, during the annual curling tournament. With compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find long buried secrets, while his own enemies threaten to bring something even more chilling than the bitter winter winds to Three Pines.
"Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie, and while there is a surface resemblance there, it sells her short." --Booklist
"[Penny] continues to deepen and modernize the traditional 'village mystery.'" --People
"Louise Penny applies her magic...giving the village mystery an elegance and depth." --New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Louise Penny, author of the New York Times bestselling Chief Inspector Gamache novels, worked as an award-winning journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation before leaving to write crime fiction. Her first mystery, Still Life, was the winner of the New Blood Dagger and the Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys Awards; and was also named one of the five Mystery/Crime Novels of the Decade by Deadly Pleasures magazine. Louise went on to become the first writer ever to win the Agatha Award for Best Novel four times, as well as an Anthony Award for The Brutal Telling and the Dilys, Arthur Ellis, Macavity, and Anthony Awards for Bury Your Dead. Her novels are bestsellers in the United States and Great Britain and have been translated into twenty languages. She lives with her husband, Michael, in a small village south of Montréal.
Reading Group Guide
Discussion questions for The Three Pines Mysteries, by Louise Penny
1. How important is the use of humor in this book?
2. Which Three Pines villager would you most like to have cafe au lait with at the bistro?
3. Why is Ruth a villager?
4 Louise Penny says her books are about murder, but at their heart they're about other things. What else is this book about? What are some other themes?
5. Agent Nichol is an extremely controversial character in the books. What do you think of her? What purpose does she serve?
Discussion questions for A Fatal Grace
1. In the golden age of classic murder mysteries, the Detection Club, whose founders included Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie, drew up a list of rules for crime fiction that included the following: “No clue that is important to the solution of the puzzle may be concealed from the reader.” What are the clues to the murders in A Fatal Grace, and how does Louise Penny hide them in plain sight?
2. Consider the lines (from “A Sad Child,” by Margaret Atwood”): “Well, all children are sad/but some get over it.” A number of the people in the novel have had damaging childhoods. What helps or hinders them in moving beyond those childhoods?
3. Discuss the different meanings in the book of “Be Calm” (and B KLM).
4. Beauvoir regards Gamache as having saved him. Is Gamache trying to do the same for Nichol, and what do you think his chances are for success? What do you think it takes to get on what Beauvoir calls Gamaches legendary, albeit well hidden, “bad side”?
5. Why does Gamache laugh with joy when Ruth Zardo says that CC de Poitiers “wasnt very good, but she wasnt so bad either. I mean really…who isnt cruel and selfish?” Do you think Gamache agrees with this idea? Do you agree?
6. Three Pines is described as enchanted and magical, a fairy-tale world—but its also a world where Dr. Frankenstein creates a monster. How do you view the village and the people who live there?
7. Clara says, “At two in the afternoon my art is brilliant, at two in the morning its crap.” Peter doesnt understand her art, but Gamache calls it marvelous. What do you think this says about her art and about her marriage? Why does Gamache tell Clara that she has “an instinct for crime”?
8. What impression do you get of Reine-Marie from her relatively brief appearances in the story? What do you think of her marriage to Gamache?
9. Both Clara and Gamache believe they see God in the course of this story. How do you view their experiences (and why lemon meringue pie)?