cover image The Nature of the Beast

The Nature of the Beast

Louise Penny. Minotaur, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-02208-0

The bucolic Quebec village of Three Pines again proves no refuge in Penny’s stellar 11th Armand Gamache novel (after 2014’s The Long Way Home). Gamache has settled in the small community after retiring from the Sûreté, where he worked as a homicide detective. But he’s drawn back to the hunt after Laurent Lepage, a nine-year-old boy with a penchant for crying wolf, is found dead under circumstances that Gamache finds suspicious. The death followed Laurent’s latest fantastic—and disbelieved—claim, of having found a gun as big as a building with a winged monster on it in the woods. Despite Gamache’s unofficial status, he’s allowed to work the case, which takes multiple unexpected turns. In this typically engaging and fairly clued installment, Gamache wrestles with whether he can truly be content with the quiet life Three Pines offers, a struggle that echoes the choices, past and present, others have made about their responsibility to confront the evil the human spirit is capable of. Series fans will delight in Penny’s continued complex fleshing out of characters they have come to love. Author tour. Agent: Teresa Chris, Teresa Chris Literary Agency. (Aug.)