Wednesday, September 16, 2015
The Nature of the Beast - Louise Penny
I love Louise Penny because she's introduced me to wonderful, odd people and to the mythical place called Three Pines. I wish she'd write a mystery a month. I don't even care if there's a mystery involved. I just want to sit in the bistro drinking with Reine-Marie, Armand, Ruth (especially Ruth!), Rosa, Clara, Myrna, and the others, basking in the warmth of the fire and in their intelligent and sometimes silly conversation, eating delicious food.
Little Laurent Lepage cries wolf. A lot. His imagination runs away with him. So when he races into the village, raving about a gun he found in the woods, a gun bigger than a house, and a monster riding on the gun, no one believes him. However, when he's found dead, apparently from a bicycle accident, retired Chief Inspector Armand Gamache feels that something isn't right. He suggests to his protege and successor, Chief Inspector Isabelle Lacoste, that they investigate further. Yes, Laurent was murdered.
What they find in the woods is a huge missile launcher built in the 1990s. Called Project Babylon and decorated with the Whore of Babylon, no one was sure it had been built, although some people had been searching for it and for its plans for years. Pointed at the east coast of the US, rumor had it that the builder was planning to sell the launcher to Saddam Hussein, but the builder was murdered. As word gets out, Canadian intelligence agents show up. They clash with Lacoste's group and Lacoste's group clashes with some of the local police. Tensions and subterfuges abound.
There's another murder. Everyone is looking for the plans for the gun and Laurent's murder is overshadowed by the search. The intelligence people from the government, an elderly scientist who'd been involved in the project, even some of the older villagers who lived there when the gun was built are suspected. How could they not have known what was being built in the woods? Not everyone is who they seem to be. Someone is hiding something.
The Nature of the Beast is the eleventh in a string of engaging and satisfying mysteries involving Gamache and the residents of Three Pines. I've now acquired them all and hope to start at the beginning and read through to the end. This is how the books should be read. If you read them out of order, as I did, you'll miss the reasons for the character development. Things happen, people change. But I'd love to live in Three Pines.