My continuing enjoyment of Louise Penny's work begins with her excellent prose, filled with heart and insight. The deceptively simple yet surprisingly complex stories explore not only whatever mystery has presented itself, but also the people who surround it. Especially, I have a strong connection to the lovingly crafted characters, to Gamache and his friends and allies, and to his complicated foes.
Although I always like returning to Three Pines, this book isn't the best of the series. It finds Gamache at the head of the Surete academy, in circumstances that are not always quite believable, bent on reaching--or perhaps being propelled toward--the great reckoning of the title. There are interesting revelations and character interactions, and I liked the story for those. But there are also some plot machinations that don't quite work, and others that are either too coincidental or too predictable. The ending, leading to the next book, of course, is both hopeful and vaguely unsettled.
It's much better than average despite its shortcomings, though, and as usual Penny left me looking forward to the next Three Pines novel.