St. Stephen's Day Murder

Dead Cold

By Elspeth Redmond

A review of Dead Cold by Louise Penny

Published on May 1, 2007

Dead Cold
Louise Penny

Hodder Headline
$24.95
paper
314pp
0-7553-2892-2

Dead Cold is the sequel to Penny’s successful debut novel, Still Life. She has created a complex and engaging world, centred on the (fictional) village of Three Pines in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. We enter into a Christmas panorama, full of swirling snow and figures swathed in thick winter clothing, including multi-coloured tuques. We meet the egregious C.C. Poitiers, a Montreal entrepreneur and purveyor of specious Eastern philosophy who makes an enemy of everyone she encounters and who has recently purchased the big house on the hill above the village. It is her fate to be electrocuted at the annual Boxing Day curling match. A murder investigation ensues, headed by inspector Armand Gamache, with whom the reader is delighted to renew acquaintance. In Gamache, Penny has created a detective of classic stature, a thoughtful and deeply human character as well as a brilliant investigator. Comparisons could be made to Poirot and Morse.

Gamache knows that there is even more to this murder than first appears, and he senses a link with another unsolved murder, the strangling of an elderly bag lady outside a Montreal department store. At the same time he must deal with the machinations of enemies within the police force. He makes his way through the mysteries that surround Three Pines like the swirling snow, encountering a vivid cast of characters so large that at times the reader is hard put to keep track of them, and comes at last to three old women, who preside over the life and death of the village like the Fates. Through them he discovers the chilling truth. mRb

Elspeth Redmond is a Baie d'Urfe writer and reviewer.

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