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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

A World of Curiosities - the newest from Louise Penny

A World of Curiosities #18, by Louise Penny

Genre: Mystery

Published Nov. 2022; 384 pages

I put my name on the library wait list in October and just got the book. Sheesh......But, it was worth the wait.

First Sentence(s): "Oh, merde. Harriet looked in the mirror, her toothbrush hanging out of her mouth. It was the first of June and she'd forgotten to say, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit."


"He held the younger man's eyes, inviting him to set aside for a moment the great brutality that existed and to remember the acts of greater courage. Of integrity and decency. Of self-control. Of forgiveness. Not by moral giants, not performed by superhumans. These were men and women of human size and proportion. Some were cops. Many were not. What blinded us, he told Beauvoir, were the horrific acts. They threatened to overwhelm and obscure the decency. It was so easy to remember the cruelty because those left a wound, a scab that hid the rest. Hid the best. But hose appalling acts, those appalling people, were the exception."

As spring comes to Three Pines, Gamache and Beauvoir see two visitors to the town that they haven't seen for years - they knew them last as children during a horrible murder investigation. This allows the story to revisit and explore in more detail the first meeting and case of Gamache and Beauvoir. Some of it is familiar and has been referred to in earlier books, but this time we get all the case information as well as their initial impressions of each other. That's mystery #1.

Mystery #2 in A World of Curiosities centers around a mysterious painting discovered in a secret, hidden room in Myrna's bookshop attic. The painting is a copy of the famous The Paston Treasure that is often referred to as 'A World of Curiosities' (pictured here). Where did this copy come from? When was it painted and by whom (it's not signed)? How did it get in the bricked up room? Ah the winding path this mystery takes!

As is often the case in Penny's stories, there's a third mystery tucked into the others. The third mystery is, who is the serial killer disguised as? Which of the auxiliary characters is a killer? So many options.


Louise Penny again shows her prodigious research abilities in tying in this famous painting to a mystery about a serial killer on the loose. I continue to love how each new book explores a different industry or emotion or locale - each handled with satisfying detail - and usually sends me to Google to look things up!

Whenever Gamache is training a new member of his team, he has this conversation:

"There are four statements that lead to wisdom. Do with them as you will. 'I'm sorry. I was wrong. I don't know. I need help.'"

It came up in this book as Gamache remembers meeting and working with Beauvoir the first time. I still find it a remarkably profound thing to say and we could all benefit from using these sentences more often. This story brings back a newer character that was the focus of a couple of books ago, Amelia, she of the tattoos and piercings. I like her character a lot - she's super smart, has a rebellious spirit and challenges Gamache in different ways.

I continue to be in love with this series and the writing style of Penny. Readable, informative, insightful, with smart mysteries and complex characters, she's the kind of author I enjoy reading. The books are police procedurals in a lot of ways, but also it should be noted that the murders are never gruesome or lingered over - no blood and guts. It's more about the brain power to solve the murder. This book is a winner.

Challenges tagged:

Cloak & Dagger: 10/36+

Storygraph Mystery/Thriller: 6/26 prompts

Library Love: 12/65

COYER 1st semester: 19 books read

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