A New York Times Notable Crime Book and Favorite Cozy for 2011
A Publishers Weekly Best Mystery/Thriller books for 2011
With A Trick of the Light, Louise Penny takes us back to the deceptively peaceful village of Three Pines in this brilliant novel in her award-winning, New York Times bestselling series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.
”Hearts are broken,” Lillian Dyson carefully underlined in a book. “Sweet relationships are dead.”
But now Lillian herself is dead. Found among the bleeding hearts and lilacs of Clara Morrow’s garden in Three Pines, shattering the celebrations of Clara’s solo show at the famed Musée in Montreal. Chief Inspector Gamache, the head of homicide at the Sûreté du Québec, is called to the tiny Quebec village and there he finds the art world gathered, and with it a world of shading and nuance, a world of shadow and light. Where nothing is as it seems. Behind every smile there lurks a sneer. Inside every sweet relationship there hides a broken heart.
And even when facts are slowly exposed, it is no longer clear to Gamache and his team if what they’ve found is the truth, or simply a trick of the light.
“Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie [but] it sells her short. Her characters are too rich, her grasp of nuance and human psychology too firm….” –Booklist (starred review)
Questions for Discussion
1. Clara is simultaneously elated and terrified by the long-awaited celebration of her art, while other artists throughout the novel struggle with varying degrees of success and recognition. How do you see both the rewards and the hardships of life as an artist?
2. “I was much too far out all my life/And not waving but drowning.” How do Stevie Smith’s lines apply to various characters in the story? Who seems to be drowning? Do you think they can be saved?
3. There are many old friendships in this book—from Lillian and Clara, to Gamache and Beauvoir, to the relationships among people in Three Pines. How do these friendships help—or in some cases hurt—the people involved? What do you make of Clara’s trip to see Lillian’s parents?
4.Old grievances also play an important role in the story. When do you think that forgiveness is, or is not, possible? How much can people change?
5. Who could possibly be happy sitting in a disgusting church basement on a Sunday night? Beauvoir wonders at the AA meeting. What do you think of that meeting, and the subsequent glimpses of what Suzanne calls “one drunk helping another”?
6. Lillian particularly highlighted these lines in the AA book: “Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead.” How does this idea recur throughout the novel, both for characters who are in AA and for others?
7. How do you regard Olivier Brule and the villagers’ differing responses to his return to Three Pines? If you have read previous books in the series, how have your impressions of the village evolved?
8. What do you think will ultimately happen to Peter and Clara’s marriage? What would you like to see happen?
9. Gamache “believed if you sift through evil, at the very bottom you’ll find good. He believed that evil has its limits. Beauvoir didn’t. He believed that if you sift through good, you’ll find evil.” What do you believe?
10. Chiaroscuro, as Beauvoir discovers, “means a bold contrast. The play of light and dark.” How do both darkness and light manifest themselves in the novel? How is it possible to tell the difference between genuine hope and “a trick of the light”?
“The superbly gifted Louise Penny is on my secret shortlist of must-read authors, and A TRICK OF THE LIGHT proves why. Artist Clara Morrow is about to have a prestigious show of her paintings when her childhood friend is found murdered, and the finger of suspicion points to Clara. Chief Inspector Gamache is called to investigate, and using his trademark powers of deduction and his intuitive knack for the right question at the right time, he exposes the darkness that underlies the bright stars of Montreal’s art world, where competition between friends, and even between husband and wife, can turn lethal. Ultimately, of course, it’s Louise Penny who steals the show, and A TRICK OF THE LIGHT will not only keep you engrossed from start to finish, it will teach you something new about love, truth, and the human heart.” —Lisa Scottoline
“Penny, elevating herself to the pantheon that houses P.D. James, Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters, demonstrates an exquisite touch with characterization, plotting and artistic sensitivity. And there could be no better explanation of A.A. than you will find here.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Outstanding….With her usual subtle touch and timely injections of humor, Penny effectively employs the recurring motif of the chiaroscuro, the interplay of light and dark, which distinguishes Morrow’s artwork and which resonates symbolically in the souls of the author’s characters.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Like P. D. James, Penny shows how the tight structure of the classical mystery story can accommodate a wealth of deeply felt emotions and interpersonal drama.” —Booklist
“Penny’s characters are sharply drawn, realistically complicated and heartbreakingly real. Wonderful, complex characters and sophisticated plotting makes this a perfect book. Do not miss it.” —RT Book Reviews
A Trick of the Light was published on August 30, 2011.The A Trick of the Light Audiobook is 1905 hours. Speechify has the Unabridged edition version of the audiobook.
Both the publication language and the narration language are in English.
A Trick of the Light includes the following subjects: Mystery & Detective / International Crime & Mystery. The BISAC Subject Code is Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Traditional British.
The author of A Trick of the Light is Louise Penny.
The narrator for the A Trick of the Light Audiobook is Ralph Cosham.