Louise Penny is the author of the #1 New York Times and the Global and Mail bestselling series of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels (Still Life, A Fatal Grace, and The Cruelest Month). Louise Penny’s first novel, Still Life, also got the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards. Her second and third books, A Fatal Grace and The Cruelest Month respectively, both won the Agatha Award for Best Novel. Her next novel, A Rule against Murder, went on to become a New York Times bestseller. Her following work, The Brutal Telling, was the New York Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and National Indie bestseller. Louise lives in a small village south of Montréal.


Glass Houses is the thirteenth book in the Inspector Gamache series. It portrays the tranquil village of Three Pines, which is under siege by something sinister.

A tall figure stands at the village square. It is dressed in a black robe and black mask. This figure has an intimidating presence, as if it were death personified.

The novel also has a philosophical aspect to it. Contrary to what one would expect from a thriller, the focus always remains on why the murder was committed, rather than who committed it.


The best thing about Glass Houses is its intricate story line. Penny has meticulously interwoven a plot of murder, guilt, historic trails, and the lawful pursuit of the lawless. While the plot itself is quite original, it is backed up by various subplots as well. One such subplot is the intrigue generated by Gamache and his son-in-law, Jean-Guy. The two men are engaged in busting a drug racket involving the sale of opioids.

Another positive is the epilogue of the novel, which is not just touching, but also plays a pivotal role in the grand scheme of things. The stories of the cobrador of Spain are about a person dressed in dark clothes. He follows a debtor around, ultimately shaming him into repaying their dues. The fact that this ends up becoming a story of conscience rather than debt is in itself a testimony to the creative genius of Louise Penny. Moreover, this dark figure has a wonderful element of surprise to it.

An excerpt from Glass Houses, by Louise Penny

The sentences are generally fairly short. The paragraphs are not too verbose, either. The characterization is wonderful, too. All in all, Glass Houses comes across more as an epic poem rather than a murder mystery.


Glass Houses begins at the murder trial, with Gamache on the witness stand. It is only halfway through the novel that the readers find out who was actually murdered. Even more frustrating is the fact that it takes even longer to figure out who the accused is.

The novel is overall pretty short on action. The dramatic tension is poorly supported by the events in the plot. More than one chapter ends with Gamache and Beauvoir looking at a new piece of information, but the readers are never really let in on the secret. The book is replete with seemingly unnecessary fillers.

For a book that seems to focus on exposing the drug crisis by busting its nefarious racket, the protagonists seem to be grappling with a drinking problem of their own.


But sometimes that comfort was an illusion. Masquerading as protecting, while actually imprisoning.

Three Pines is a state of mind. When we choose tolerance over hate. Kindness over cruelty. Goodness over bullying. When we choose to be hopeful, not cynical. Then we live in Three Pines.

We see it when bullies are in charge. It becomes part of the culture of an institution, a family, an ethnic group, a country. It becomes not just acceptable, but expected. Applauded even.

It wasn’t really, he knew, about less fear. It was about more courage.


Ameya Rating:

With a score of 3.8 stars out of a possible 5, Glass Houses is a poignant reflection on power, privilege, and responsibility. Penny has continued to exceed all expectations, and the novel will not leave her fans disappointed.

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