Review: A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

a-fatal-graceA Fatal Grace
by Louise Penny
Series: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #2
Genre: Contemporary Mystery (police procedural)
Setting: Canada–Montreal and a small village south of Montreal (Three Pines)
Published by Minotaur, 2007
E-book, purchased
311 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Welcome to winter in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Quebec, where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas, and someone is preparing for murder.

No one liked CC de Poitiers. Not her quiet husband, not her spineless lover, not her pathetic daughter—and certainly none of the residents of Three Pines. CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone, right up until the moment of her death.

When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté du Québec, is called to investigate, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with someone quite extraordinary. CC de Poitiers was electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake, in front of the entire village, as she watched the annual curling tournament. And yet no one saw anything. Who could have been insane enough to try such a macabre method of murder—or brilliant enough to succeed?

With his trademark compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find the dangerous secrets long buried there. For a Quebec winter is not only staggeringly beautiful but deadly, and the people of Three Pines know better than to reveal too much of themselves. But other dangers are becoming clear to Gamache. As a bitter wind blows into the village, something even more chilling is coming for Gamache himself.

And that was one of the problems they were facing. Everyone looked alike in the Quebec winter. Like colorful marshmallows. It was hard to even distinguish men from women. Faces, hair, hands, feet, bodies, all covered against the cold. Even if someone had seen the murderer, could they identify him?


He was frankly astonished the entire community hadn’t died of boredom. Just talking about curling was sucking the will to live right out of him. It was like some Anglo joke, an excuse to wear plaid and yell. Most Anglos, he’d noticed, didn’t like to raise their voices. Francophones were constantly gesturing and shouting and hugging. Beauvoir wasn’t sure why Anglos even had arms, except perhaps to carry all their money. Curling at least gave them an excuse to vent.


  • Such a good series. These are more than police procedurals. We also find out about people’s lives and the village of Three Pines. Ms. Penny uses language so well which makes these books even more interesting.
  • Chief Inspector Gamache is such an interesting character. He firmly believes in justice, but he also believes in courtesy and helping and educating the people he works with.
  • Beauvoir, Gamache’s second-in-command is a very proud Francophone. He doesn’t understand Anglos and is often impatient with them. However, he’s a loyal and talented second-in-command for Gamache.
  • The way the murder happens is very unique and that is something Gamache must unravel.
  • CC de Poitiers and her family are sad, unlikeable people.
  • These books have quite a bit of atmosphere especially because of the house CC de Poitiers buys. This house also was important in the first book in the series.
  • I like that there is curling in the book and that the book takes place around the Christmas season.
  • There is a secondary plot (the Arnot case) started in the first book which affects Gamache personally. He went against the hierarchy in the Sûreté to bring down a corrupt officer. Neither his bosses nor the corrupt officer (who is in prison) can forgive this. We learn a little more about this in this book.


  • I don’t know that it’s necessary to have the Arnot case fill such a large background role in the book.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I’m so glad I finally started reading these books. I love Louise Penny’s writing and look forward to reading many more of her books.


  • Agatha Award for Best Novel (2007)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Louise Penny is the author of the Inspector Armand Gamache series. The first book was published in 2005 and a new book, the eleventh in the series, is due out in August 2015. She lives in Canada in a small village south of Montreal with her husband and a golden retriever.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog