A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

A Great Reckoning
Louise Penny


After a deadly hostage situation, Former Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has taken early retirement from the Sûreté du Québec. He’s regrouping in the cozy village of Three Pines with his wife Reine-Marie while he prepares for his new job:  Commander of the Sûreté Academy. There’s been a bad batch of cadets from the police academy, not to mention a corrupt administration, and Gamache is determined to clean house. While some get the axe, new professors are hired, including his boyhood friend, Michel Brébeuf.

Brébeuf is no friend now, however. Their bond shattered after Brébeuf’s unforgivable betrayal while at the Sûreté. Gamache also decides to keep Serge Leduc, formerly second in command at the academy and rumored to be the cruelest and most corrupt at the school. Many are nervous about the changes and wonder, is Gamache doing the right thing?

Classes begin and the cadets and professors settle into the new regime, but it isn’t long before a shocking murder upends the academy. Investigating the murder are Chief Inspector Isabelle Lacoste and an outsider, Deputy Commissioner Paul Gélinas from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Authorities rule out no one, including Gamache and four cadets, who have been researching a mysterious map found in the wall of the Three Pines bistro. Their relationships and personal histories make an excellent second story and I enjoyed seeing how Penny explains their motives and ties them into the mystery. As the story develops, evidence seems to implicate one of the students, the tattooed and pierced Amelia Choquet, and before long, many questions arise about her relationship with Gamache.

Published in 2016, A Great Reckoning is one of Louise Penny’s more recent Armand Gamache mysteries, a very readable and entertaining story. While it’s clear the characters have a lot of history together in her earlier books, I did not have trouble getting right into the story. She includes many of these side characters and subplots, including the residents of Three Pines and some quirky pets which enhance the story nicely, true to the genre. Her many references to tasty food may also inspire the reader to cook up something a little more sophisticated for dinner!

I particularly enjoyed Penny’s references to poetry, ancient philosophy and literature, which tie together many themes and helped me understand how police investigators think and cope with violent situations. I especially liked this line credited to a Buddhist nun:  “Don’t believe everything you think.” In addition, themes of family, long friendships, loyalty and doing the right thing run through every page, something I love to see in a book.

It is tempting to guess the finish as different characters reveal their motives and explain their involvement, but while answers flow freely in the last few chapters, the puzzle isn’t finished until the very last page.

I recommend A Great Reckoning to mystery readers because of its entertaining setting, characters and plot, but all readers will appreciate Penny’s storytelling talent.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

9 thoughts on “A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

  1. Thank you for this review. I am on Louise Penny’s 3rd book in the series and finding it lagging a bit. I was wondering if I need to read them all in order and now after reading your review I know I can jump ahead. Penny does a fantastic job at character development. I love how she shows them flaws and all making them human.

    1. Hi Christine – thanks for stopping by – yes I was able to enjoy this one out of order and think I will go back and read some of the earlier ones. It’s hard to commit to a whole series so I appreciate being able to jump in and get what’s going on. Have a great day!

    1. Hi Carrie – yes I think I will go back and read some from the beginning. I enjoyed the setting – makes me want to hide in Three Pines! Happy Monday!

  2. Barbara, this is a wonderful review and so inviting I want to go and buy this book and some of her others straight away! 😀 I feel everything is so well-balanced with characters, plot and writing working well together for a satisftying read. This is going on my Christmas list!

    1. Hi Annika – if you like mysteries and character development, you will enjoy this. It may be best to start at the beginning of the series, but I had no trouble jumping in. Hope all is well with you!

      1. I’ll make sure to start with the first one, thanks for the tip! I’m very well, just a bit quieter on the blogging front as I’m trying to finish last edits on my short stories and to get the book out in the near future. Also, as always, life tends to interfere!!

  3. Louise Penny is one of my favourite writers, I do wish her ebooks were not so expensive. However, the library is free. Ready to read book 4 of the series. It is worth starting at the beginning She is one of my favourite writers, I love how her characters are flawed, they evolve and grow, and things don’t always have a tidy or happy ending for her protagonists.

Comments are closed.