Book Review: Louise Penny’s “The Hangman”

Posted November 15, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Louise Penny’s “The Hangman”

The Hangman


Louise Penny

mystery in Paperback edition that was published by Grass Roots Press on September 1, 2010 and has 87 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Still Life, A Fatal Grace, A Rule Against Murder, The Cruelest Month, The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery, How the Light Gets In, The Long Way Home, The Nature of the Beast, A Great Reckoning

I’ve set this short story between 6 and 7 in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series. The focus is, as usual, in Three Pines in Canada.

My Take

It’s a conundrum worthy of Agatha Christie in this short and yet very complete story. You’ll only realize it’s brevity by how little time it takes to read.

You’ll cry. You won’t be able to help it. So many wasted lives. And it is Gamache who pulls together the clues they all unearth.

Few of the core characters appear, and there is one new one, Tom Scott, who is a jerk of a character, and yet I find myself wanting to know more about him. How did he get to be this way? Will he find what he needs?

“People rich in money might belong at the Inn and Spa, but those rich in other ways belonged in the tiny village of Three Pines. Here, kindness was the real currency.”

I love it! I laughed so hard when I read this scene that the person in the same room asked why I was laughing. She cracked up too. How can you not laugh at the irony of a woman coming to a place to relax and then complaining because there’s no shopping or Internet or cellphone service? How awful for her when there’s a beautiful village outside the door, a bookstore across the green, a lovely woods to walk in, a cozy fire to curl up next to, and incredible food to enjoy.

And how very Penny of a story with its warmth and horror, its friendship, caring, and support up against the guilt, anger, and desire for revenge.

The Story

It’s a simple thing. Really. If you’ve ever climbed a tree, you’d know.

And Gamache does know when they find the dead man swinging from a tree.

The Characters

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, with his deep brown, kind eyes, is the head of homicide for the Québec Provincial Police. Reine-Marie is his wife. Inspector Beauvoir is his second-in-command. Dr. Harris is the coroner.

Three Pines

The core Three Pines characters
Gabri is one of the owners of the bistro and the Bed and Breakfast by the village green. Myrna is the bookstore owner.

The Inn and Spa
Tom Scott is the jogger who found the body and one of the Inn’s guests. Dominique Gilbert is one of the owners of the Inn and Spa that opened in The Brutal Telling, 5. Angela and her husband, Mike, help out.Mr. Arthur Ellis is another of their guests.

James Hill worked for the Department of Records. He’d had a wife and child, Debbie. Paul Goulet and Sue Gravel are both guests at the B&B. Cindy Pane and Tim Short are the only two “teens” still alive from that accident twenty years ago.

The Cover and Title

The cover is grim with its boiling grey sky framed by a gradation of black, but the first object you notice is not that sky but the hangman’s noose being held by a very tight hand.

The title is how he sees himself, “The Hangman”, meting out justice.