“A Great Reckoning,” by Louise Penny. Minotaur, 400 pages.
If it’s August, it’s time for our annual trip back to Three Pines. I’m not sure how Louise Penny manages to turn out a book like clockwork once a year, but the effect is nothing short of addictive.
Inspector Gamache and his team have rooted out the moral rot that pervaded the Sureté, but the corruption still breeds in one very important place: the training academy for young officers.
Gamache takes the reins and surprises everyone by recruiting some of his instructors from among his known enemies. And from the applicants for admission he chooses a sullen misfit for reasons no one can understand.
When an instructor who was one of the bad apples is found dead, Gamache is excluded as his old team heads the investigation, and becomes a suspect before it’s over.
In and among the peril to young souls, readers can still enjoy a snowy season in Three Pines, replete with delicacies from the Bistro and the repartee we love, like this exchange after elderly Ruth Zardo delivers a snarling non sequitur to a group of cadets sequestered in the village:
“ ‘Alzheimer’s?’ asked Huifen.
“Reine-Marie shook her head. ‘Poetry.’ ”
“Watching Edie,” by Camilla Way. New American Library, 304 pages.
This new entry in the “unreliable narrator” genre builds a wonderful suspense as a woman, Edie, is stalked by a friend from her teens who clearly terrifies her.
We see their backstory, leading up to whatever terrible event left them estranged, in tandem with the present-day story in which the terrifying and unstable friend, Heather, takes advantage of a severe postnatal depression to move in and take over Edie’s life.
A standout in a crowded field.
“Sorrow Road,” by Julia Keller, Minotaur, 483 pages.
Julia Keller’s Bell Elkins series never disappoints, and no wonder: Keller was a Pulitzer-winning feature writer for the Chicago Tribune. You can’t beat a reporter for those details that bring a story to life.
As in the previous books about Elkins, who left behind a successful law career to serve as county prosecutor in the West Virginia town where she grew up, the ghosts of past cruelties visit themselves on the present, both in the crimes she investigates and in her relationships.
Bell is looking into a series of deaths centered on a “memory care” facility in the next county, and treading lightly since it’s not her jurisdiction. In flashback chapters we see the 1930s crime that was hushed up but nearly a century later is about to resurface.
Bell’s daughter, Carla, has been driven home to West Virginia by crippling PTSD. The seemingly harmless job she takes recording oral histories of elderly residents puts her smack dab in the middle of the action at the facility.
It all takes place amid a series of snowstorms, making this a great candidate for a late August beach read.