Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Nature of the Beast

The Nature of the Beast is Louise Penny's eleventh Chief Inspector Gamache novel, and I think it is one of my series favorites.  I have to admit that, perhaps because Armand Gamache and I are at similar stages of life, I am very empathetic to what he is going through these days.  Gamache, you see, is retired now but not entirely sure that he is ready for a world in which he largely loses contact with his old friends and colleagues.  He finds himself tempted by the prospect of going back to work at some point soon, be it at the Surete du Quebec, a place he knows all too well, or in some entirely new capacity.

As Louise Penny puts it on page eight of the novel, “He'd had enough of corruption, of betrayal, of the back-stabbing and undermining and venal atmosphere.  He'd had enough of death.  Chief Inspector Gamache had exorcised the rot in the Surete, but the memories remained, embedded.”

But even if Gamache is not ready to face any of those things, all of them seem to find him sooner or later in the tiny little village of Three Pines where, all the while surrounded by a group of old friends he loves and respects, the former homicide detective now resides happily with his wife.  One of Gamache's new friends is nine-year-old Laurent Lepage, a little boy prone to wild, impossible tales and an out-of-control imagination.  Now the boy has disappeared somewhere into the vast forest surrounding his home – and it just might be because someone finally took one of Laurent's wild stories seriously.  And little does Gamache realize that what he and the search team discover stashed away deep in the forest is about to bring one of the most despicable serial killers imaginable back into his life. 

Author Louise Penny
Armand Gamache, a man standing on the corner of one of life's crossroads trying to decide which direction to move next, now has to contend with the possibility that by not playing along with the boy's latest story he shares the blame for what happened next.  Could he have done something to prevent the chain of events that threatens to overwhelm his little corner of the Canada?  What counts is that Gamache believes he could, and should, have done more.  But he realizes that it is too late to prevent what has already happened - all he can do now is try to limit the damage caused by what just might be the scariest thing he has ever set eyes upon. 

The Nature of the Beast is a memorable addition to the Chief Inspector Gamache series, one that longtime fans will appreciate for how it seems to be leading to the next phase of the inspector's life.  Gamache now appears to be ready to move more firmly back into the world that refuses to let him escape.  For his sake, and the sake of his fans, I hope he does exactly that.


  1. This is one of my favorite series, too. The books are well written, the characters are interesting (my favorite is Ruth), and I know a lot of people who would love to live in Three Pines - despite the high murder rate!

    1. I came to the series rather late but I'm almost caught up now, and I've really enjoyed watching the Gamache character evolve.