Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Surete du Quebec, has found a peace he'd only imagined possible. On warm summer mornings he sits on a bench holding a small book, The Balm in Gilead, in his large hands. "There is a balm in Gilead," his neighbor Clara Morrow reads from the dust jacket, "to make the wounded whole."While Gamache doesn't talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache's help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. "There's power enough in Heaven," he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, "to cure a sin-sick soul." And then he gets up. And joins her.Together with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and Myrna Landers, they journey deeper and deeper into Quebec. And deeper and deeper into the soul of Peter Morrow. A man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist, he would sell that soul. And may have. The journey takes them further and further from Three Pines, to the very mouth of the great St. Lawrence river. To an area so desolate, so damned, the first mariners called it The land God gave to Cain. And there they discover the terrible damage done by a sin-sick soul.
Canadian author, Louise Penny, has been very successful in her career of writing mystery novels. The main character of her novels is francophone Chief InspectorArmand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec. She won several awards for her work, including the Agatha Award for five years, and the Anthony Award five times, as well as publication in 23 languages.
Penny's earlier career was a broadcaster with the Canadian Broadcasting System after her graduation from college. Many times, she had postings booked far from family and friends, so loneliness became a big problem. She turned to alcohol, until age 35 when she admitted her problem to herself and has been sober since.
After accomplishing sobriety, she met her future husband, Michael Whitehead, who was head of hematology at Montreal's Childrens Hospital. They were married for 20 years, and she described him as a man of kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity, and a man of courage and integrity. She lost her beloved husband to dementia in 2016 at age 83. Louise has all of her friends in the village outside of Montreal, along with her golden retrievers to keep her company.