How the Light Gets In

Louise Penny, Author, Ralph Cosham, Read by
Louise Penny, read by Ralph Cosham. Macmillan Audio, unabridged, 12 CDs, 15 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-1-4272-3301-1
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The avuncular voice of narrator Ralph Cosham—British, seasoned with more than a hint of Quebecois—fully expresses the mood of wistful regret that permeates this ninth (and perhaps last) chronicle of Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec. This time, while being pushed to the brink of retirement, the shrewd sleuth also has to juggle a host of problems. His formerly faithful second-in-command and potential son-in-law, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, is suffering from drug problems. Nearly all of Gamache’s ultra-efficient homicide team have been re-assigned by the villainous chief superintendent of police, who is about to unleash a long-planned attack against the Canadian government. Gamache’s quiet missing-persons case suddenly becomes a front-page story when the victim is revealed as the last of Canada’s famous Ouellet quintuplets. And then there’s a drowning death at the Champlain Bridge, which Gamache believes is neither an accident nor suicide. Cosham provides Gamache with a variety of spot-on vocal moods. There’s a flat, weary approach when he’s speaking with the uninspired and disrespectful new members of his team. But once on the job—issuing orders or interrogating suspects and witnesses—Cosham shifts to a hard-edged and no-nonsense delivery. Finally, he sounds thoughtful and relaxed when conversing with his family and the friends he’s made in the village of Three Pines, where much of the novel takes place. Cosham manages to distinguish the book’s many characters using only subtle shifts in tone, the one exception being the voice he lends shrill, foul-mouthed poetess Ruth Zardo, whose squawk sounds a bit like something her pet duck might utter. This engrossing, well-produced audio ends with a brief conversation between author and reader. A Minotaur hardcover. (Aug.)
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