Book Review: Glass Houses

by Jenn Seiler-Patrick, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Glass Houses, #13 in the Chief Inspector Gamache Series,
Louise Penny

Glass Houses by Louise Penny is one of the most "can't-put-it-down" mysteries that I've read in a long time. I knew when I started reading earlier Louise Penny works that I loved her off-kilter characters in the small town of Three Pines, Quebec. To me, Inspector Gamache was reminiscent of Hercule Poirot, so obviously I'm going to read this whole series. But in this book, I was surprised to find that Penny takes the suspense and intrigue to a different level— thank goodness that I had insomnia all this week anyway, because I had to finish this book!

The intrigue takes the form of a Spanish "cobrador," a person who arrives in Three Pines and stands on the village green, dressed in all black with a mask concealing their identity. The menacing figure acts as a silent conscience–pointing the proverbial finger at someone who has performed true evil. However, since the cobrador is silent, we are left to wonder who the accused is in this small town. Characters begin confessing their darkest secrets and hidden guilt—Did the cobrador come to implicate the woman who caused her cousin to drown, or the former therapist who feels guilt over a patient’s suicide? While we are left to wonder, Penny skips ahead to the present, where Gamache is on the stand testifying at the trial of the cobrador’s unknown victim. But nothing is what or who they seem to be in this courtroom and you will never see this end coming.