A Great Reckoning
By Louise Penny
Sphere

Louise Penny’s 12 bestselling crime novels revolve around Inspector Armand Gamache of Canada’s Sûreté du Québec, and spin just as happily between a genial recurring cast and a bleaker portrait of humanity. The former is personified by the people of her beautifully drawn Three Pines. The darkness is dramatised by each central crime, which veer from furious family disputes towards the supernatural.

A Great Reckoning seems preoccupied with that staple of movie matinees: treasure maps. Finding that retire­ment is not entirely to his liking, Gamache has returned to his former employers to train the next generation of cadets.

His first day at the academy is marked with a gift: a map found in the walls of his beloved Three Pines bistro. Gamache turns the mystery into a test for his four officers-in-waiting. That Gamache’s corrupt old adversary, Serge Le Duc, is then murdered is odd enough. That a copy of Gamache’s map is found at the scene is odder still.

The new setting and fresh cast are enjoyable. Could Amelia Choquet, Penny’s version of Lisbeth Salander, whom Gamache takes under his wing, be set for a starring role? But our regulars, who are somewhat elbowed aside, are missed. Still, there is no such thing as a bad Penny.