A Great Reckoning is not a novel that you want to pickup if you are new to the series. You could read it and I think enjoy it. But there is a lot of assumed back story. Gamache and his wife are retired in the small village of Three Pines. But Gamache still feels to pull to continue to root out the corruption inside the police force from the previous several books.
I really like this series and this is one of the best books in the series. It is not without its faults. The corruption angle I think has been problematic from the start. It is too big and too small at the same time. There is a timeline issue with one of the big reveals that just doesn’t make sense to me (the age of one of the characters and the secret relationship to Gamache’s history doesn’t really work.) But if you set aside the questionable reality of the police corruption and personal vendetta angles and just read them as a story, it rolls out nicely.
Gamache feels like the only way to solve the problem of the academy is to fire most of the bad teachers, but keep the one he thinks is the ringleader and then bring back the privately disgraced, but not incarcerated, former head of the Surete as one of the staff. He hopes he can use them to root one another’s corruption while keeping them under control.
But someone ends up dead. And there are young cadets that have to be protected and mentored and investigated. Gamache’s plans are both extraordinary in their scope as things are revealed, and inadequate to the situation. Not everything can be controlled, especially when Gamache does not fully understand the depths of the depravity at the Surete Academy.
This is a more controlled book. There are no super weapons or country wide conspiracies. The scales of corruption and historical revelation, while vast, are reasonable. The Three Pines characters are still present, but the murder is at the Academy, and instead of one of the backgrounds of our characters, it is the background of Three Pines itself that is part of the reveal.
This is an enjoyable series. I have no idea where Louise Penny can go from here. But I am looking forward to more books. It is rare that such a late book in the series can hold up so well.
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (Chief Inspector Gamache #12) Purchase Links: Hardcover, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook