First Sentence: Running, running, stumbling, running.
Gamache, retired from being the former head of homicide for the Sûreté
du Québec, and his wife Reine-Marie are now living in Three Pines.
Armand befriends a young boy known to have an overwhelming imagination
telling stories of beasts and monsters to the residents of the town.
When he claims to have found something that others must see, no one
takes him seriously. Until he disappears and it’s found the story was
not fiction, but very real, and very dangerous; changing the lives of
the residents and potentially impacting far more than the tiny village
of Three Pines.
We begin with a situation that is tense and
threatening—or is it. Such is the uncertainty to which we are
introduced. Never was an author more adept at descriptions, painting
verbal pictures that take us from the sublime to the comic. Penny
conveys emotion so well. You feel the support of Reine-Marie, Armand’s
wife, for her husband, yet her concern as well, the closeness and
teasing of the circle of friends and their concern for one another.
has created a cast of characters who become real to us. Even if one
has not read previous books in the series, many seem to be as old
friends, yet we learn more about some of them, and find some are not as
we had previously perceived. Yet, the circle has expanded, as there are
new members as well. As with life, all are imperfect people, some with
very human phobias; they are, some with character weaknesses; some
small, some very large and serious. Some characters accept the
responsibilities and results of their weaknesses, while others have
buried them away within themselves, and others simply refuse to
acknowledge them at all.
The underlying theme of the story and an
excellent discussion to all art in general, is whether we can, or
should, separate art from its creator…”Do you think a work should be
judged by its creator? Or should it stand on its own?” …”Would I want a
painting by Jeffrey Dahmer, or to serve a meal from the Stalin family
cookbook?...” There is a play within the story, and the point at which
Penny anthropomorphizes it, is interesting indeed.
the readers from light, to shadow, and into complete blackness; both
real and conceptually. Her imagery can break your heart, and both the
readers and the characters are thrust into the completely unexpected.
The story is remarkable and frightening in that a central element is
based on an actual person in history.
Yet not all is darkness.
The dialogue is easy and natural. At times it is light and teasing,
re-affirming the relationships between the characters. Mouth-watering
descriptions of meals shared—also helps lighten the mood…”The scallops
were large and succulent and grilled golden brown. They lay on a bed of
grains and fresh herbs and roasted pine nuts and goat cheese next to a
warm grilled apple.” Yet, Penny also understands the relationship of
people to their surroundings…”If the topic of conversation was harsh, at
least the atmosphere could be gentle.”
One cannot help but enjoy
Ms. Penny’s literary and pop-culture references; from Yeats, to “Lord
of the Rings,” to old Andy Hardy movies--such things bring us comfort,
make us feel safe and add an air of normalcy to the darkness one senses
is coming. And yes, darkness is a major theme; the darkness of
absolutely grief, physical darkness and the fear it can inspire, the
darkness of war, the darkness of men’s souls, and the darkness in our
own minds that obscures our perception of what is right and wrong.
book is no cozy, although it does not contain any graphic violence.
Plot twists are used very effectively to cleverly and horribly complete a
circle. This is a true traditional mystery with emotional depth
demonstrating how something which happens locally can have a
“Nature of the Beast” is wonderfully
plotted; intricate and compelling. It makes you think and feel. It
contains all the best elements of racing against time and against true
evil. And finally, it is about having the awareness of having to face
oneself, one’s past and one’s actions, and then having the strength to
THE NATURE OF THE BEAST (Trad/Pol Proc-Armand Gamache-Three Pines, Canada-Contemp) - Ex
Penny, Louise - 11th in series
Minotaur Books – Aug, 2015
I am a reader and reviewer of mysteries; a compulsive hooker--the crochet kind, not the street kind--and one who never leaves home without my camera. I can be reached at:
firstname.lastname@example.org ------------ My reviews are seen by over 14,000 people/review. I am a Top 1% Reviewer with over 1,300 followers on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/250195, as well as in the magazine Mystery Readers Journal, and on numerous online sites. My monthly email of reviews has over 500 subscribers. I started reviewing formally in 2004, spent four years evaluating manuscripts for Poisoned Pen Press, and was a paid reviewer for The Strand Magazine.