Glass Houses

Glass Houses

A Novel

Book - 2017
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sapl3 Apr 09, 2020


The residents of Three Pines have had their share of grief in the past and have recovered. But how will they ever recover after the events that take place in this novel?

It all starts with a mysterious figure, hooded and clothed in black, who takes up a position in the village center of Three Pines. The figure neither gestures nor moves yet conveys a sense of evil that is almost palpable.

Armand is asked to intervene, but what can he do when no crime is being committed? And then someone is murdered – and the flood-gates open!

The novel covers a six-month span between the events of the murder and the trial of the accused. During this time, Armand Gamache struggles with his conscience as he knows that he was the catalyst for many of the events that unfolded during this time.

Penny has woven an intricate plot that supersedes anything that she has written before. Her characters are as real to us as if they lived right next door and we readers are sitting next to them in that courtroom as the trial unfolds.

An amazing mystery from this incredible writer!

Dec 27, 2019

I love Three Pines and all the characters that live there. Although a fictional village, Three Pines is a representation of community that is increasingly lacking in today's society. Louise Penny tackles the opioid probem, as well as deeper things such as conscience, and what a person might do for the greater good.

Nov 07, 2019

Love the story and mystery. I have read several over the last few months and have discovered a thread running through them--the importance of family and friends. After the first noveI, I was a little confused with all the characters--especially those in Three Pines, but by now I've grown to love all of them for the support and loyalty and even the "quirkiness".

Oct 29, 2019


Oct 23, 2019

My first Inspector Gamache story reminded me a great deal of the Georges Simenon’s Maigret series. Very much like Maigret, Gamache has a slow methodical and cerebral process to his investigation. His experience precedes him into this new (and quiet) residence which he and his wife are now living. And even though the local villagers are perplexed up to a breaking point, they don’t panic and act crazy during this “village harassment” situation until one resident is found dead and wearing the harassment-garment. The admirable residents start self-reflecting while others try to help the inspector out only to find out there is a more complex and globally sinister crime being undertaken.

May 22, 2019

My first Louise Penny read. Very enjoyable. Already on to more. I like the timeline flipping from the past to the present.

May 21, 2019

I had difficulty getting "into" the story. I lost interest and abandoned the book in the first quarter.

Mar 12, 2019

Worth your time!
Penny sets the scenes so well you can smell the pines, and feel the cold and snow on your face (or the heat of the courtroom.) The Cobrador gets under your skin early and is a fantastic part of the murder mystery. My first Louise Penny book, and not my last. Enjoyable.

Feb 05, 2019

I found this one better than some of the more recent ones. I thought Penny was clever in how she wove the story together through various timelines… if not done well, it's too contrived and confusing in my opinion but in this case, I found it to be very effective and added to the exciting build up of the mystery. I also liked this one better than some in the past because the quirkiness of the characters wasn't 'over the top' as I've found it to be in previous books.
The story was about drug trafficing plus a 'revenge' killing from years in the past. As usual (essentially in all but her first two books), Penny has the reader focus on a current murder but is also telling or building a 'back story' which is actually more the focus of the story. But, again, I feel she does this really well... and it's very very smart because it keeps everyone reading the whole series. However, ironically, this book could 'stand alone' more easily than others, in my opinion.

Feb 03, 2019

I can't help think of the "Magpie Murders" in that the author becomes fed up with his all knowing main character, much like Gamache has become. Not a great read.

Jan 15, 2019


Aug 29, 2018

The novel could use some editing - I also plodded through it. The folks in Three Pines must all be fat as they spend all of their time eating and drinking at the bistro. How can they afford it, unless most of them get the GIS?

Jun 20, 2018

WOW! I am not your absolute mystery fan, but this book right here was written quite phenomenally! It is intended for an adult (but okay for young adult) audience, with enough seriousness but also excitement for all. I recommended it to three others when I finished it, staying up an hour after my bedtime. The context was a bit hard to grasp at the start - the plot jumps seamlessly between the past and present without indication. After, one would get used to it (hopefully quickly enough)!!. Definitely a full amount of stars!! - @Siri of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Jun 13, 2018

As always, Louise Penny wrote a wonderful compelling story of Chief Inspector Gamache. Makes me want to visit the eastern townships.I like all the characters, the plotting, and growth of the characters.

May 03, 2018

Save this story for long winter night when you can curl up next to the fire with a glass of wine. You'll want to spend some time after each chapter contemplating and digesting.

This is not a summer reading book. As with all Literature (as opposed to books) this takes some work. I found myself (as always with Louise Penny novels) needing to reread paragraphs or whole pages because they are so well written and so moving. Penny takes on the drug epidemic and drug cartels in this novel, and I wish her solution would work. Halfway through the book, I found myself making excuses to put off reading the next page because I know how long it is going to be before I can visit Three Pines in her next novel. I cling to the characters; I long to understand them; I love watching them grow and discover themselves. Much about redemption, love, friendship, misunderstandings, forgiveness, and patience--perhaps even more than previous novels.

If you are new to Louise Penny, you really must start with Still Life and work your way into the hearts and minds of these incredible characters.

I loved this story, The cobrador was a metaphor for the conscience of all the characters. The clever use of the tiny border town as a corridor for crime is a current issue with our American neighbours. I did like the braiding of the past and present, the 'hot scenes' were the present and the events taking place in the cold were reflections of what had gone on in the past. This book is up to Penny's usual excellent standards in crime fiction.

Mar 22, 2018

You can't beat a Louise Penny novel on a cold, winter's night in Minnesota. She's in my top tier of writers along with CJ Box, Carl Hiaasen, Daniel Silva, David House right, and the late, great Vince Flynn who poured me a few Dewars in St Paul years ago. R.I.P Vince....

Mar 20, 2018

At 647 pages (large print) this one was too long-winded for my taste.

Mar 10, 2018

Not one of her best. Confusing at times with all the back and forth stuff. I like her books that go into more 'food' descriptions and involve the village locals. This one consisted mainly of a group of non-villagers.

Feb 24, 2018

I became acquainted with the genius of Louise Penny when I read in 2012 her debut novel, Still Life, published in 2005. Back then, I wrote for myself this response to her writing: Remarkable in that the spirit outranks the letter. Author stands at the portal to organic writing.

The ensuing years have brought forth eleven more novels penned by Penny, and now, with the creation of Glass Houses, her thirteenth novel, she stands in the vestibule of organic writing, which evolves without intellectual prodding. There's plenty of this prodding in the production of this murder mystery, but the organic nature lifts from the pages near the middle of the book. There rapture awaits the reader who is keen in engaging the spirit of the story. The following four sentences from page 184 of the hardcover offer a taste of this rapture:
"[Chief Superintendent] Armand Gamache walked through the late afternoon darkness. The lights from the cottages were made soft by the mist that still hung over the village. Three Pines felt slightly out of focus. Not quite of this world."

Three Pines is on the map if you've been there; otherwise, it does not exist.

Louise Penny builds her mystery with the help of glass houses, a baseball bat, the novel Lord of the Flies, the phrase "burn our ships," Mahatma Gandhi's higher court of the conscience, lesbianism, an old poet demented with insight, and the Spanish cobrador, who collects debts. Penny, in pushing to the beyond, infuses "cobrador" with a higher meaning: "conscience."

How the cobrador as conscience plays out in the story is done well. Penny's cobrador wears a black costume and mask. Three Pines, located near Montreal and the border with the United States, is the center of the story, and it is here that the cobrador appears and stands mute on the village green. This sinister presence causes a stir in the village. A lot of questions are raised, with the most basic of them—what is it doing here?—leading into the intrigue.

Chief Superintendent Gamache was the first to confront the cobrador. The entity did not move, it did not speak. If the narrator would have given Gamache the opportunity to assess the height of the cobrador and detect the scent, if any, of the person hidden by black, the intrigue would have been put at risk. Sherlock Holmes with the help of his narrator would have taken this opportunity and damn the intrigue, but Holmes could have no place in this mystery because he favors the letter in solving a crime whereas Gamache favors the spirit.

Louise Penny creates in Glass Houses an enjoyable read by creating symbols, even of the murder victim and Three Pines itself, and by keeping the reader close to Armand Gamache, whose conscience is on trial.

The murder mystery intersects later with a search for the leader of a drug cartel. Is that culprit the murderer?

By the end of the story, the reader may be thinking that Louise Penny, the conscience for Glass Houses, is her own hero, Chief Superintendent Armand Gamache, the conscience for a world hidden from the world.

Jan 17, 2018

I'm not a fan. Nothing happened in the first 150 pages except to establish, ad nauseam, the existence of a cobrador. Determined to finish despite my lack of enthusium I plodded to the end. I wanted more engagement to the characters, not blind devotion to the author.

Jan 15, 2018

Disappointing, using a "scary thing" as the crux of the story. Slow moving and repetitive with how Gamache "felt." The story was not captivating in any way unlike her first books.

Jan 07, 2018

One of the things I enjoy so much about a Louise Penny book is the way she incorporates her research into her books. An example is Beautiful Mysteries, which is about silent monks who make Gregorian chants a central part of their faith and worship. I became aware of the depth of her immersion into the research when she noted that the monks’ silence awakened them to an awareness of minuscule expressions and the thoughts they conveyed. That is not something she learned from Wikipedia. (This is as opposed to The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about a girl from a hill tribe in China, Akha. When I looked up Akha, I found an entry that included all the beliefs and practices that were related in the book. I got no insights that would have come from someone having actual experienced living those beliefs and practices.)
Anyway, the thing that was so interesting in Glass Houses was the Cobrador. It is derived from the Spanish practice involving El Cobrador del Frac — a debt collector in a top hat who follows the debtor around silently, with the aim of shaming him/her into paying the debt. Penny created something different and more sinister by claiming it to be an ancient practice, and by making its purpose be to collect on moral and ethical debts as well as financial. I was disappointed to learn that she made that part up, and like the book a little less when I learned it was not true. I know; that’s not really fair.

Jan 04, 2018

I really enjoy her books. While reading the 1st one, I thought it was more of a young readers book. Found myself by going back for another. Then another. Fell in love with Armand, Henri, the city of Quebec, and the Eastern townships all over again. Her books may not have you biting you nails while perched on the edge of your seat, but they are very enjoyable reads. Keep writing, my dear Ms Penny. And thank you!

Dec 21, 2017

This is a good addition to the series. Certainly recommended to series readers but probably not to "outsiders". For those who are tired of the citizens of Three Pines it's probably time to stop reading but to those of us who fantasize about living there it's wonderful. This is a drugs story as well as a murder mystery. I thought that aspect was very timely since the opioid epidemic is front and center of the news almost daily.

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