Thursday, May 23, 2013

Raving about A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

CBC radio raved about Louise Penny's most recent mystery--A Beautiful Mystery. I want to read that book, I told myself. So I paid a visit to my local bookstore.
To my request, the bookseller said, "No. But have you read any of her books? No. Well, you need to read..." She took A Trick of the Light off the shelf. She seldom wrong, so I left with the book.
In my reading chair, my eyes moved easily across the page. And I was all wrapped up in the story--like a cozy quilt--before I even realized it.
I have a few fine artist friends but I don't know much about fine art. Ms. Penny gave me a glimpse into the nastier side of this world. 

Blurb from the dust jacket:  "Hearts are broken," Lillian Dyson carefully underlined in a book. "Sweet relationships are dead."

But now Lillian herself is dead. Found among the bleeding hearts and lilacs of Clara Morrow's garden in Three Pines, shattering the celebrations of Clara's solo show at the famed Musee in Montreal. Chief Inspector Gamache, the head of homicide at the Surete du Quebec, is called to the tiny Quebec village, and there he finds the art world gathered, and with it a world of shading and nuance, a world of shadow and light. Where nothing is as it seems. Behind every smile there lurks a sneer. Inside every sweet relationship there hides a broken heart. And even when facts are slowly exposed, it is no longer clear to Gamache and his team if what they've found is the truth, or simply a trick of the light.

'[T]hey don't call it the 'art establishment' for nothing. Fact is, most are followers. If one dealer is sniffing around an artist it won't be long before others join him. We follow the buzz. That's how phenomenons are created. Not because the artist is better than anyone else, but because the dealers have a pack mentality. Suddenly they all decided they want one particular artist." [p. 204]

'[T]here's other forms of attack. Of hurting. Even of killing. You can murder a person's reputation. You can kill their drive and their desire, even their creativity, if you try hard enough.' [p. 149]

I like how Louise Penny echoes the title throughout the book:  once when a painting is admired, again when a fifty dollar word is used and then again leading into the final reveal of who-done-it...

' "A word was used at your vernnissage...To describe your paintings...Chiaroscuro. It means the contrast between light and dark. Their juxtaposition. You do it in your portraits, Clara. In the colors you use, the shading, but also in the emotions your work evokes. Especially in the portrait of Ruth...
[T]here's a clear contrast. The dark hues, the trees in the background. Her face partly in shadow. Her expression thunderous. Except for one tiny dot. The smallest hint of light, in her eyes." ...Gamache turned to Francois Marios. "You said something curious, when we were standing in front of that portrait... Was it real, or just a trick of the light? Hope offered, then denied. A particular cruelty... That's what this crime, this murder was about." ' [p. 314]

I love Ms. Penny sense of fun...

' "What is this? A cult?"
"Praying doesn't make something a cult," whispered the Chief.
"Did you get a load of all the smiling and shaking hands? What was that? You can't tell me these people aren't into mind-control."
"Happiness isn't a cult either," whispered Gamache, but Beauvior looked like he didn't believe it.' [p. 165]

' "He's my sponsor."
"I beg your pardon?" said Gamache.
"Brian's my sponsor. He's eight years sober, I'm only two."
Gamache looked from the elegant Thierry Pineault, in gray flannels and light cashmere sweater, to the skinhead.
"I know what you're thinking, Chief Inspector, and you're right. Brian is pretty tolerant of me. He gets a lot of grief from his friends when he's seen with me in public. My suits and ties and all. Very embarrassing," Thierry smiled.' [p. 334]

Final Thought:  It would be so cool if sober people, like me, could have a sponsor. Someone whose been there, done that. Someone who would hold you accountable. Someone to phone if you have a crisis of conscious. Someone who would listen without judging.
Sharing my author journey...

This Saturday (May 25th) is the 

National Crime Writing Month Mini Conference Events

Making Crime Pay 
9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Three panel discussions plus a blue pencil cafe

Mystery Mini Chants
2:30 to 5:00 pm
Authors talk about their books

This is a free event

and I'm a panelist and emcee. This front of stage appearance was filling me with a volatile mixture of anxiety and excitement until I realized that it's not all about me. Other people will be there.

Now I'm looking forward to hearing what the other panelists will share.
Now I'm looking forward to helping the mini chant run smoothly.
Now I'm looking forward to sharing information with the other attendees.
Now I'm mainly excited.
Looking forward to seeing you there.

Next post:  Please welcome Author Dede Perkins


Laurie Buchanan said...

The "blurb" is definitely enticing - it makes you want to delve right into the pages!

Leanne Dyck said...

Many have agreed, Laurie. Louise Penny is one of Canadian's most popular authors. And yet... And yet when I emailed her to tell her about my rave she took time out of her busy life to reply, promptly. I'm very impressed.