cover image The Nature of the Beast: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

The Nature of the Beast: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

Louise Penny, read by Robert Bathurst. Macmillan Audio, , unabridged, 10 CDs, 12.5 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-1-4272-6386-5

At the start of this production, Penny offers a sweet farewell to the late Ralph Cosham, the original and sole reader of the series until his death last year. Simultaneously, she introduces his replacement, British actor Bathurst, who seems every bit as proficient as his predecessor at capturing the moods and mores of former Sûreté Chief Inspector Gamache and the other citizens of the usually cozy, secluded little Canadian village of Three Pines. For this adventure, arguably the series’s best, both hero and hamlet are in a state of unease after a nine-year-old boy, known for his annoying exaggerations, is found dead, and his claim that he found a gun in the woods “as big as a building” proves to be accurate. Along with a plot as mysterious and compelling as any she has concocted, Penny continues to fill in the blanks of her characters’ lives, this time focusing on the village’s prime eccentric, the aging poet Ruth Zardo, who lives with a pet duck. The new reader offers the author a notable assist, segueing out of Gamache’s initially weary mood by quickening his speech after learning of the boy’s death, and finally building to a full-throated involvement in piecing together the history of the huge weapon. But the biggest challenge Bathurst handily meets is in reflecting the emotional changes in Ruth, as long-buried elements of her past are brought to the surface by the unearthing of the weapon of mass destruction. A Minotaur hardcover. (Aug.)