There is an eerie, hooded figure dressed in black, lurking in the town square of the quiet little village of Three Pines, Quebec. Perhaps, the people say, it is a prank from the leftover celebration festivities of Halloween. But as time goes on, the ominous, dark shape remains, day into night, never moving, simply staring, and the people begin to whisper and wonder; what evil has permeated their calm, peaceful lives?
The sinister scenario takes a deadly twist when murder takes a life in the dank root cellar of the church basement. Months later, Chief Armand Gamache testifies in court at the trial of the individual arrested for the crime, recalling how his wife found the corpse, dressed in the same cloak as the mysterious form that silently stood watch over their sleepy little town.
As perspiration drips down his face in the oppressively hot courtroom, Gamache tells the prosecutor that in Spain the "dark thing" was said to be a"Conscience", capable of hunting down and shaming perpetrators of dastardly deeds. The courtroom spectators squirm in their seats. If true, which one of their neighbors is hiding a dreadful secret? The trial continues while Gamache carefully weighs his words, fully aware that his decision to commit perjury puts him on a dangerous precipice that could ruin his career and reputation. Only he and a handful of confidantes are aware of a far greater threat to the world than the frightening body in black.
If you are a Louise Penny fan, the Three Pines series will be quite familiar. If not, then by all means, take this opportunity to become a fan of her writing and meet the quirky, memorable cast of characters she has created. ( Don't forget the informative author notes at the conclusion. ) Penny writes a multi-layered plot dealing with a relevant topic. Deliciously unsettling at times, this one is a bewitchingly good mystery.