Audiobook Review: How the Light Gets In


Ms. Penny has truly blessed us with her masterpiece in How The Light Gets In. And that should sum it all up right there – honestly, this was an incredible read. However, you cannot “start” reading these Inspector Gamache series with this one. This one is so deep into the past story of Gamache and his right-hand man, Beauvoir that starting the series here would not allow you the full appreciation of their story and of this instalment in the series. But, I get away from my gushing about this instalment in the Inspector Gamache series. Not only does this one receive my enthusiastic accolades for the story, but again, for the incredible and amazing narration of it by Ralph Cosham. He has taken the beautiful and poetic prose of Ms. Penny and brought it to such life you feel as though you are watching it unfold on the big screen.

On the cover of the audiobook case are these words of absolute truth and wisdom “Not enough praise can be accorded Ralph Cosham, who has served as the reader for all the audiobooks in this series. His voice is simply magnificent.” – Star-Ledger (but said about The Beautiful Mystery).

Ralph Cosham is pure genius in his narration. He IS Chief Inspector Gamache and he continues to share his gift by bringing to life all the personalities involved, not just Gamache. He will leave you laughing and crying and revelling in his expertise. Indeed, there is one highly charged and emotional moment between Gamache and Beauvoir where I had tears streaming down my face (and I hide no shame in sharing that!). Part of this story takes us back to the community of Three Pines and we are blessedly graced with the presence of Ruth, the acerbic and drunken old poet. Oh how Cosham can read Ruth! He’s even given Ruth’s pet duck an incredible and hilarious voice! He’s embodied the caustic voice of Ruth into the duck’s quack. It’s brilliant.

However, in order to narrate this story, it had to be created by Louise Penny. And wow, is this one fantastic. I absolutely loved, loved, loved how she weaved events that are significant in Canadian folklore into an expert whodunit. I was completely giddy when she started to spin a tale that gave us a fictitious Dionne quintuplet story, as well as the intricate care she took to shine light on an issue between police brutality and cruelty in the Native communities. She also tackles the corruption of the construction industry in Montreal. All of this is woven so seamlessly into this incredible story that also still leaves you guessing to the end.

Not only is the above storyline fantastic, she also continues to shape, mold, and give loving attention to her characters. Three Pines remains a place I want to run to, hide away and just sit and spend my time in. I want to sit in the bookstore or café and have a conversation with Gamache and the friends in Three Pines. In How the Light Gets In, we continue to discover the tortured and fractured relationship between Gamache and Beauvoir. We are also left breathlessly wondering if this will mark the end of Gamache’s career. Is the corruption he is becoming so painfully close to unveiling going to mark the end of Gamache himself? It is an edge-of-your-seat mystery all the way along.

It was an audiobook/novel I never wanted to hear end. 5 glowing stars. I’m certain this will be a story I read again in the future. I just want to wrap my arms around it once more and never let it go.

And, many thanks to Audiobook Jukebox and MacMillan Audio for the pleasure of the audiobook. This was read for the Solid Gold Reviewers program.

Here’s a fantastically worded synopsis, taken from Goodreads:

The stunning, ingenious and sinister new novel in the internationally bestselling Inspector Gamache series.


As a fierce, unrelenting winter grips Quebec, shadows are closing in on Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department and hostile forces are lining up against him.


When Gamache receives a message about a mysterious case in Three Pines, he is compelled to investigate — a woman who was once one of the most famous people in the world has vanished.


As he begins to shed light on the investigation, he is drawn into a web of murder, lies and unimaginable corruption at the heart of the city. Facing his most challenging, and personal, case to date, can Gamache save the reputation of the Sûreté, those he holds dear and himself?

Evocative, gripping and atmospheric, this magnificent work of crime fiction from international bestselling author Louise Penny will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

Audiobook Review: The Beautiful Mystery

louise pennyAh, Louise Penny has given us a beautiful mystery in The Beautiful Mystery (ha, see that? yeah, I know, right?) Not only was the story itself superb, but the audio book narration is exactly as Audiofile’s statement on the back cover reads, “Ralph Cosham’s excellent narration of Louise Penny’s newest mystery demonstrate why a terrific narrator is an author’s best partner.”

Amen to that one! (again, ahem, did you see that there? you know, because this is a story about a secluded monastery, monks that have taken the vow of silence…amen…okay, okay I’ll give it a rest now.)

At any rate, The Beautiful Mystery is very unlike the others in Penny’s series featuring Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir, in that it does not take place in its usual setting of  Twin Pines, the tiny Quebec village. Instead, Gamache, and Beauvoir are requested to enter a remote monastery and solve a murder of one of their brothers. No one, not for hundreds of years, no outsider ever, has been granted access or even glimpsed at what is behind those heavy locked doors of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups. However, when their choir director is murdered, Gamache and Beauvoir are brought in to solve the crime.

The monks inside Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups are the masters of Gregorian plainchant. These ancient chants have such significant effect on people, both the singer and the listener, and are so profound they are known as “the beautiful mystery”. (Click here to listen to some of these chants.) As an aside, the playing of a chant at the beginning of the audio CD and again at the end was marvelous. No, actually, listening to this whole story was marvelous. The descriptions of nuemes and chants and of these monk’s devotion and dedication to chant and their quiet, introspective lifestyle was such a beautiful and absolute listening delight. Although there was a murderer among them, I found myself quite calmed and relaxed during my daily commute as I listened to this story.

It is not long before Gamache and Beauvoir realize however that there is a great divide among the monks and they must work through this in order to uncover which of the remaining 23 monks is responsible for killing the choir director. To pause and reflect on this aspect of the story, I must comment that this investigation did seem to continue in a far more prolonged manner than was necessary. It is, and remains, my only complaint with this story. It was, toward the end, someone that I had considered but it was still quite some time before he was actually revealed.

But, in addition to the mystery requiring their solution, Penny also treats us to more character growth and to the continued healing that Jean-Guy is undergoing following a harrowing factory experience from a few novels ago. Jean-Guy is still quite fragile and not quite handling well his recovery. Here, well, here is where the narration of Ralph Cosham simply shone. Oh how absolutely brilliant Cosham is when bringing to life Gamache and Beauvoir. No, I do not believe Ms. Penny could have found a more brilliant actor for her characters. It was as though I was seated in a room across from them and listening in on their conversations. So many, many times I would bust out loud laughing in the car listening to their banter. I’m afraid there will never be a time when I don’t seek out the audio book of this series. It would just never do it justice or provide the level of entertainment I experience every time I listen to Cosham. 4.5 shining stars for another wonderful Louise Penny/Ralph Cosham experience.

Audiobook Review: A Trick of the Light

Why have I not read any Louise Penny before this? Wonderful, expressive writing, rich and vivid characters that are all at once charming, hilarious and interesting to spend time with. A smart mystery but with that little extra with sharp and very realistic characters.

Synopsis: ( and taken from The New York Times) In A Trick of the Light, Inspector Gamache returns to Three Pines, a village so tiny and secretive it doesn’t appear on any maps.  A dead woman in a red dress turns up in Clara Morrow’s flower garden, ruining this local artist’s moment of glory after her solo show at the Musée d’Art Contemporain in Montreal. When the victim is identified as an art critic and frenemy from Clara’s past, she becomes an obvious “person of interest” to the police. But with so many members of the cutthroat art community on hand to make what they will of Clara’s success, there are plenty of suspects to go around.

The narrator, of course, is an extremely important person for an audiobook. The first five minutes or so are crucial in letting me know if I can continue or I’ll be hitting eject (I’ve done that with a few but then I’ve also painfully endured through others)! At first, I wasn’t so sure about this one, but as the book progressed and Chief Inspector Gamache digs deeper in to the world of artists, art dealers, gallery owners, the stodgey, almost pompous-like voice becomes absolute listening perfection.

Such fluid beautiful writing with characters that pop off the page. I loved having this story read to me. Having Ruth, the old, ornery drunken poet, brought to life by the narrator is worth the price of admission alone. Her exchanges with Inspector Beauvoir are just awesome. The exchanges between Beauvoir and Gamache are brilliant as well.

But the beauty and feeling in her writing also made me cry when I drove to work (at the part where Gamache tells Lillian Dyson’s parents she has been murdered.) The tenderness, the emotion, in how it was written (and narrated) was done in such a way that I had trouble driving the car while blinking back the tears.

It did drag just a teeny-tad for me in the middle-to-the-end, but overall, a very enjoyable read. Her writing will most definitely draw me back for more, and in my opinion is far more satisfying than Kate Atkinson’s drab, non-descriptive style.

And…by the end I had it narrowed down to two suspects and I’m happy to say that one of my two was the actual murderer. Duh dunh dunhhh…. 🙂