I enjoyed this mystery by Louise Penny very much. It is number nine in a series she writes about Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté de police de Québec. He is dealing with internal problems in the Department that are seemingly forcing him to resign, and which apparently have been going on for some time (previous books?). His most trusted investigators have been reassigned. His good friend and second-in-command Jean-Luc Beauvoir has gone to work for the 'bad guys' and no longer speaks to him. What is going on? Who is behind this plot to force him out? And who can he trust? And on top of trying to save his career, a friend has asked him to investigate the murder of a mysterious woman in the picturesque village of Three Pines, just north of the Vermont border, east of Montreal. There's no internet service in Three Pines, but there is a friendly bistro, a cozy bookstore, and a charming inn, as well as a whole cast of colorful characters. As well, it is snowing, and it is Christmas, and Gamache is trying to get to Paris to meet his wife Reine-Marie and their children for the holiday. I read the first in this series, Still Life, awhile ago, and I don't know why I skipped to the 9th book--it must have been on the shelf in the library and I needed a book--but I think I will now go back and read them in order. I think the books stand on their own, but it might be helpful to know all the background, as many of the characters reappear.
The pull of the book is Gamache himself--he is a wonderfully developed character, calm and intelligent, always patient, always kind. He cares greatly about people, the good and the bad. As the author said in an interview, "Gamache understands perfectly well how cruel the world is. He has evidence of it every day. The reason he is kind is because he chooses to be kind. He stands in the light because he knows where the darkness is." The book is worth reading just for getting to know Gamache.
The title of the book comes from Leonard Cohen's song, "Anthem."
"Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There's a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in."
Excellent book and looking forward to reading the rest.