After his many hair-raising and life-threatening difficulties with bringing the Sûreté du Québec back to a state of integrity (see How the Light Gets In), Armand Gamache has retired from his position as head of homicide and is living in the village of Three Pines with his beloved wife, Reine Marie. It's an idyllic existence that includes dropping into the Bistro for a warm croissant and some apple cider or a glass of wine before a sumptuous meal; strolling, reading, visiting with friends and neighbors...until the death of a young boy galvanizes first Armand, then the village, and then a cast of cryptic government officials to tear the town apart in search of the answer to an old--and evil--mystery.
As always, this Gamache novel was worth the wait. Fortunately Penny doesn't make us wait years, as some authors do--she pretty reliably publishes one every August. I may have rated one of these as a four-star (out of five), but I don't think I've ever gone below that. This one was definitely a five. Along with the mystery, which this time was interesting and horrifying and complicated, the characters are what make these books--the psychological complexity, the sensitivity, the nuance, the feelings. Such a great mystery series. If you have never read Louise Penny, I envy you for getting to start from the beginning and read your way through!