LOUISE PENNY – A Fatal Grace. St. Martin’s, hardcover; first edition, May 2007; paperback, 1st printing, February 2008. First published in Canada and the UK as Dead Cold: McArthur, Canada, hc, 2006; pb, 2007. Headline, UK, hc, 2006; pb, 2007.


   Second in the Three Pines series featuring Armand Gamache of the Quebec Sûreté, this tale is set at Christmastime. The timing is leveraged to full effect, with vivid descriptions of gorgeous winter scenes as well as brutally cold, snowy weather.

   The murder victim is CC de Poitiers (hmmm, an assumed name?), a thoroughly horrid woman who has recently moved to the village. She succumbs in a rather bizarre way at a curling match, and Gamache must find out why.

   Office politics in the Sûreté are also at work, and the odious Agent Nichol returns. The plot is a bit of a stretch, and the many copy-editing glitches/ omissions (an ice floe is described as an ice “flow,” for example) often brought me up short.

   Imperfect, but very enjoyable.

Editorial Comment:   There are at the present time five books in the Chief Inspector Gamache series. Walter Albert reviewed Still Life, the first in the series, back here in July. Following his review, I added a list of all five books, along with a few additional cover scans.