Louise Penny is the author of the Chief Inspector Gamache novels, a mystery series set in the fictional city of Three Pines in Canada. In A Trick of the Light, artist Clara Morrow finally receives recognition for a lifetime of work by having a solo show at the Muse̒e d’Art Contemporain in Montreal. At a party in Three Pines following the show, her childhood friend Lillian Dyson is murdered and Inspector Gamache is called in to investigate.
A distinguishing feature of Penny’s writing is that she tells the story from multiple points of view, so that the reader knows not only what happened, but how the characters feel as they reveal their deepest thoughts and emotions. We learn of Clara’s insecurities about her art and her husband’s jealousy of her talent. We discover that Clara felt manipulated and betrayed by Lillian as the two women grew older. We can see what Gamache thinks of his assistant, Jean Guy Beauvoir, and discern how Beauvoir is haunted by a shooting incident in which both he and Gamache were seriously wounded.
As a result of this deep dive into the characters’ inner thoughts, the pace of the book is very measured. This is not a fast-paced thriller. Rather, it is an introspective study of feeling and motivations as Gamache follows the evidence to solve the crime.
Penny brings back familiar characters from previous Three Pines novels. A Trick of the Light is very characteristic of Penny’s writing style and will appeal to her many fans.