‘Glass Houses’ by Louise Penny – Three Pines, Quebec is a State of Mind

‘Glass Houses’ by Louise Penny    (2017)  –   388 pages

“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.” – Louise Penney  

The town of Three Pines is a place where everyone treats and is treated with respect and concern.  Where else are you going to find that today?  It is a shame that this cozy little French Quebec town of Three Pines near the Vermont border has so many murders.  Fortunately they have Armand Gamache, Chief Superintendent of the Surete du Quebec, to nab the criminals.

Louise Penney novels have become my favorite guilty reading pleasure, my literary comfort food.  I realize that these police inspector novels are by no means high literature. Like so many murder mysteries, the plot of ‘Glass Houses’ is necessarily contrived, but this delightful remote little town of Three Pines intrigues me.

 “Readers come to Three Pines for the murders and the quirky villagers – Ruth, the foul-mouthed poet-sage and her duck, Rosa; Myrna, the retired therapist turned bookstore owner – but stay for the celebration of kindness and friendship, the plumbing of the nature of morality, and the musings on the creation of art and its purpose.”  – CS Monitor  

If I were to compare ‘Glass Houses’ to the other Louise Penny novels I have read, I liked it better than ‘The Nature of the Beast’ but not quite as much as ‘How the Light Gets In’ which is still my favorite. ‘Glass Houses’ is the thirteenth in the Gamache series of novels.

In ‘Glass Houses’, Three Pines must deal with the opioid crisis.   Some forms of fentanyl, the opioid that killed Minneapolis musician Prince, are 10,000 times stronger than morphine.  It only takes a relatively small amount of fentanyl to get its effect and even one dose can cause a deadly overdose. Fentanyl has been linked to thousands of overdose deaths in the United States and Canada. Being close to the Vermont border, Three Pines is an ideal place to sneak fentanyl across the border into the United States.

One thing I particularly like about the novels is that they will deal with high-stakes moral quandaries.  If Gamache has discovered a route for fentanyl deliverers into the United States should he arrest small-time operators using it or should he wait for the big shipment?  He compares himself to Winston Churchill who was faced with a similar choice during World War II after British scientists had cracked the German top secret Enigma codes, and the Allies knew ahead of time that the Germans were going to bomb Coventry, England.  Should Churchill warn the people of Coventry thus informing the Germans that the English had their Enigma codes or not?

The bottom line is that ‘Glass Houses’ worked for me as a mystery thriller set in this tiny Quebec village of Three Pines.


Grade :   A


4 responses to this post.

  1. Guilty pleasures! I love it:)

    Liked by 1 person


  2. I loved the two I’ve read. There’s the cozy atmosphere of Three Pines (despite the murders) and the warm relationship between Armand Gamache and his wife.

    Have you tried Craig Johnson’s series with sheriff Walt Longmire? You might like it too if you enjoy Louise Penny.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Emma,
      No, I have not heard or read about Craig Johnson or his series. In fact this is the first time I have encountered his name. I will keep my eyes and ears open in the future. The only other mystery writer I have read is Ruth Rendell. I do read Georges Simenon but so far only his romans durs and not his Maigret novels.
      I am happy to hear that you also are a Louise Penny fan.



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