Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec is a thoughtful man. He understands the struggles and changes that people go through over the years certainly, but overnight sometimes.
In Louise Penny's latest book, "A Trick of the Light," the inspector starts off trying to evaluate if a speck of light in a painting changes it from a picture of despair to a picture of hope, and ends up trying to see the changes in people in the normally peaceful town of Three Pines and evaluate their validity.
Penny writes mysteries that cover a lot more than the actual crime, dealing as well with the emotions, thoughts and internal struggles that people go through.
Three Pines resident Clara Marrow has grown accustomed to deferring to her husband Peter's popularity as an artist while she tries a variety of mediums to find her niche. Now she has found it as a portrait painter with a solo show opening at the Musee d'Art Contemporain in Montreal.
Clara's enjoyment of her backyard and coffee the next morning is spoiled, however, when a body is found in one of the flower beds. The woman was Clara's closest childhood friend - and her worst enemy in adulthood.
The dead woman, Lillian Dyson, has a long list of people who hated her. But an Alcoholics Anonymous coin found on the scene indicates that she may have been trying to turn her life around and make amends.
Or that may have only been a pose.
Among the clues Gamache and his able assistant, Jean Guy Beauvoir, search for is why Dyson was in Three Pines on Clara's big day. Was she there to ask for Clara's forgiveness or to try to ruin her triumph?
But for Gamache, a thoughtful man that Penny describes as resembling a quiet academic more than the usual brooding, violent detective of many novels, there are far more questions to be answered than who killed the woman.
There are the residents of the village, as well as a number of visitors who were there for the post-museum show party who might have motives - and certainly have struggles with their private burdens.
Penny's subplots are always as interesting as her main story, and "A Trick of the Light" is no exception.
Characters struggle with alcoholism, fear and forgiveness. Even Clara, at the pinnacle of her career, suddenly struggles with her feelings for her husband and her longtime marriage.
Penny captures readers in many ways, including with her characters and settings.
And of course, a gripping mystery.