Book review: In ‘A Fatal Grace,’ electrocution occurs on a lake during a curling match

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Louise Penny’s “A Fatal Grace” is the second book in the “Chief Inspector Gamache” series. Like its predecessor, it is set in Three Pines, Quebec. Many of the characters are the same, but a new person has arrived. CC de Poitiers has bought the old Hadley house, with its questionable reputation, and moved in with her husband and badgered daughter. Quickly disliked, de Poitiers is suddenly electrocuted on a lake during a community curling match. Initial reaction is that it can’t be done, but apparently it has been.

Enter the Provincial Police Force of Quebec. Inspector Gamache’s team, headquartered in the fire station, sets to work. Assignments are given, carried out and reported on. Gamasch does many of the interviews, being familiar with the people from the earlier case. His second in command is usually with him to serve as a sounding board.

It turns out to be electrocuted, de Poitiers must touch charged metal with bare hands (it’s below zero Fahrenheit) and be in contact with a liquid on the ground, but not be insulated by rubber soles. And where is a power source on a lake?

Since de Poitiers was so disliked, the list of suspects is long, but how many of them are capable of such an intricate endeavor? And aren’t there easier ways? That in itself must mean something. And so Gamache and the team begin to piece together the clues. And the reader sees enough of them to draw some conclusions. Are they the same conclusions as those of Chief Inspector Gamache?

Through both books, there are references to Gamache’s questionable relationship with headquarters; it is well into this book that you begin to get the details. Dealing with that problem brings another level of difficulty to the solution of the case; even then no solution is reached.

“A Fatal Grace” is worth reading just to find out if it is really possible to electrocute someone on a lake at a curling match. You might also wonder, with all the problems, some of which I haven’t mentioned, does the crime get solved or is the solution to be continued?

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