Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny

The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny

The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny

I discovered Louise Penny about five years ago, and she has quickly become one of my favorite mystery authors. “The Nature of the Beast” is Ms. Penny’s eleventh title in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, and this is the best book yet. In “The Nature of the Beast,” we find Armand Gamache living in the tiny town of Three Pines. He has retired from the his position as Chief Inspector of the Sûreté de Québec, but soon, he finds himself using his old detective skills. A young boy named Laurent has been found dead. An accident, the police say, but Armand is not so sure. Soon, his suspicions lead to a bigger, more ominous investigation as a terrible monster is found in the woods near the town. Ruth Zardo, the resident poet, seems to know more about this darkness that haunts the town than anyone else, yet she does not give Armand more than odd quotes and strange hints. Soon, another murder occurs, and it is clear that Armand and the rest of the Sûreté de Québec have their work cut out for them to find the killer.

I loved this book, and very much enjoyed visiting with the residents of Three Pines. Louise Penny writes novels unlike any other mystery series available today. Not only do you have a true-hearted, intelligent detective, but you have a marvelous cast of characters. Penny mixes her mystery with culture, art, music, and deep thoughts. Excellent, and not to be missed. “The Nature of the Beast” is a good starting point for this series.

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Alice, by Christina Henry

Alice, by Christina Henry

Alice, by Christina Henry

While “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll is considered to be a children’s story, I have always found it to be an odd, non-nonsensical tale with more than its fair share of darkness. The Tim Burton movie version is closer to how I see this story, as many of the characters clearly show more of their unsavory inner selves on-screen. Author Christina Henry, with her version of the story, simply titled “Alice,” may have written my favorite Alice story to-date. But let me be clear…this is not a children’s story. This is not even a young adult story. This is an adult story full of adult themes and will appeal to those readers who like horror, magic, and the justice meted out with blood and guns in old Western stories.

When the story opens, Alice has been held in an asylum for the insane for ten long years. Her only persistent memory is of a vicious rabbit with a missing eye. When the asylum catches fire, she is helped to escape by fellow resident Hatcher, and as they run through the Old City seeking safety, they realize that something escaped with them–the Jabberwock is also free. (Beware the jaws that bite, the claws that catch!) The Jabberwock brings death, and Alice and Hatcher must try to stop it. And down the rabbit hole we go, into the depths of Old City, a place full of violence, evil, fear, magic, and just the faintest bit of hope. Hope in the form of mad Alice, axe-killer Hatcher, the cunning Chesire, and the assortment of desperate folks they meet along the way, including a giant, vindictive rabbit named Pipkin. Will the Jabberwock meet his end? Will the Vorpal blade go snicker-snack? Read, and find out. The second book in this series, “Red Queen,” comes out next year. Not for the faint of heart, and meant only for adults, this is still highly recommended.

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