Monday, August 21, 2017

On Glass Houses, and Why You Should Read Everything by Louise Penny

Note: Top Shelf Text received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!


Readers, do I really need to say anything about Glass Houses? I think we all know how I feel by now.

For my readers that are new to the Inspector Gamache mysteries, let me tell you why I love this series. Louise Penny doesn't just write mysteries, she writes about life. She writes about honor, and bravery, and friends that are really family.

Three Pines, and the people that live in that tiny village, are like family to me. When I open a Louise Penny novel, it feels like coming home. So while this is a mystery series, and I do think Penny has a masterful ability to plot a mystery, I don't actually read them for the thrill of the investigation. I read them because I love these characters enough that they feel like real people to me.

And Gamache himself? When I think about the type of person that I want to be, and the type of legacy that I want to leave in my lifetime, I think of him. 

If that's not enough to convince you to pick up the first in the series, let me give you a quick overview:

In the first mystery, Still Life, Chief Inspector Gamache is the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec. Rather than the brash leading detective that we may be used to from this genre, he's more of the bold but gentle type. That is, he lives by his code, and his goal is always to provide justice for the victims of the crimes he investigates. He leads a team of misfits from the ranks of the Sûreté, including Inspector Beauvoir, a rather outspoken man and Gamache's protege, and Inspector Lacoste, a clever and empathetic addition to their team.

Gamache lives with his wife Reine-Marie, whom he adores, and has two grown children. He's well into his career as Chief Inspector and sometimes clashes with those who lead the Sûreté, but he always manages to solve even the most difficult cases. It's in this first novel that Gamache discovers Three Pines, a tiny, unmapped village in the forest, and the scene of his latest investigation.

Throughout the thirteen books in this series, Gamache returns to Three Pines and becomes not just an investigator, but an integral part of the eccentric circle of friends there. And along the way, we witness his incredible ability to read people and to understand their motivations. More importantly, we see how long it takes for a murder to come to fruition, and how Gamache uses his powers of empathy and astute observation to pinpoint the exact spot where hatred (or rage, or jealousy) becomes a crime.

Penny's writing isn't prose -- it's poetry (sometimes literally) and her ability to convey feeling, atmosphere, and the scent of a meal at the B&B is incredible and so worth the time it takes to invest in these stories.


On Glass Houses

I know I've done this to you recently with my review of Castle of Water, but I'm not actually going to give you any details here. That's because so many of you are at different points in your Gamache journey, and so many of you are discovering your own reasons for loving this series. I know I recommend a lot of titles to you here, but I'm asking you to trust me again. This series has earned its spot on my lifetime favorites' shelf. And this latest installment brings us to a particularly gut-wrenching and pivotal part in these characters' lives. Not to mention, the villain in Glass Houses is not what you'd expect, but it's entirely relevant and the timing of this book is therefore incredibly poignant. (And if you're still wondering, I gave this book a 5/5.)

This title will be released on August, 29, 2017. You can pre-order your own copy here on Amazon, or through your local independent bookseller.


I hope you love this series, friends. If you've read any one of the books, tell us about your reading experience below!


  1. Love the Inspector Gamache series! I've read them all and recommend frequently...some I liked better than others....but all rated a solid 3 or an enthusiastic 4 stars. I'm looking forward to the new release on 8/29 (my birthday!). I have loved following and getting to know the complex characters, especially Gamache himself. I'm so happy to see your high rating! Can't wait!

  2. You inspired me to try out this series... I'm not a typical mystery reader. But I loved Still Life and have the next book on hold at my library!

  3. You sold me. May I also recommend the Owen McKenna series by Todd Borg and the Kate Shackleton series by Frances Brody for my fellow mystery lovers?

  4. So well said! I think Gamache is so empathetic and intuitive himself because Louise Penny is those things. It says so much of her that readers feel like they are home when they read this series. I feel that way too! Great post! I always enjoy reading your blog!