Louise Penny's artistic mystery

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First aired on The Next Chapter (12/03/12)

louise-penny-175.jpgMystery writer Louise Penny's latest novel A Trick of the Light finds us once again following Chief Inspector Armand Gamache on a murder investigation in Quebec's Eastern Townships.

But this time, the story is set in the high-stakes world of art, with its passionate personalities, ambitious dealers and gallery owners and famous critics. When a dead body is found in artist Clara Morrow's garden on the night of her gala exhibition in Montreal, Gamache is pressed into action.

Penny delves deeply into the art scene, but it may surprise some to know she herself is not much of an artist or an art buff.

"To be honest, I'm not very sophisticated when it comes to art," she told The Next Chapter's Shelagh Rogers recently.

The author says she grew up on a steady diet of music and literature, but her family members weren't a particularly arty bunch. Living in the Eastern Townships as an adult, however, has rubbed off on her, at least from an inspirational perspective.

"Well, it's been a kind of a theme through the books as you know," she explained. "It started with Still Life, and I live in a very artistic part of the world, where there I think is the largest per capita population of artists in Canada. So I'm surrounded by it."

When writing A Trick of the Light, Penny focused less on describing the art itself, and more on the experience of seeing art. This was in large part inspired by her husband Michael, who definitely enjoys trips to galleries.

"I love watching him look at the art, and for me, that's the masterpiece," she said. "He sees something there I will never see. He sees a depth or he understands a language. It resonates. He just is transported and so I look at him, and that's what I love, and that's what I really describe ... the emotions that the art provokes in others, more than actually the art itself."

a-trick-light-175.jpgA Trick of the Light
by Louise Penny

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From the publisher: 

"Chief Inspector Gamache, the head of homicide at the Sûreté du Québec, is called to the tiny Quebec village and there he finds the art world gathered, and with it a world of shading and nuance, a world of shadow and light.  Where nothing is as it seems.  Behind every smile there lurks a sneer. Inside every sweet relationship there hides a broken heart.  And even when facts are slowly exposed, it is no longer clear to Gamache and his team if what they''ve found is the truth, or simply a trick of the light."

Read more at St. Martin's Press.