Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Hangman by Louise Penny

First Sentence: Armand Gamache didn’t like what he was looking at, but then, few people would.

A guest at the Inn and Spa in Three Pines is found hanged by a jogger. Inspector Armand Gamache and his deputy Jean-Guy Beauvoir are sent to investigate. The question is whether this is a suicide or murder.

This novella was written for Canada’s Literacy Project at the Grade 3 level for adult readers. The style and plot are very simple and, where characters in the series books, would use French words or phrases, English is used here. Even so, this is a wonderfully written story.

The underlying question is “why?”. Why was the man there? Whether by his own hand or that of another, why did he die? There is another question of “why” but I refuse to give away a major plot point.

This is yet another example of Ms. Penny’s skill and quality of storytelling even for those of us way above Grade 3 level reading. Do not, however, confuse that for meaning the story has been ‘dumbed-down’. Not at all. It has all the elements that define an excellent tale with its strong sense of place, excellent characters, wonderfully done and natural dialogue. Although the structure and language may be fairly simple, the plot twist is not and the motive leaves us thinking.

The Hangman” is complete unto itself and a wonderful read, no matter your age or reading level.

THE HANGMAN (Pol Proc-CI Armand Gamache-Canada-Contemp) – Ex
Penny, Louise – Short Story
Grass Roots Press – 2010

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