Two tiny Canadian villages surrounded by forest, places of sanctuary, virtually unknown to the outside world, not on any map. Within each village, everyone knows everyone, though not all their secrets. Investigating a crime can mean arresting a friend and neighbor. The lead investigator in Three Pines, in southeastern Quebec, is Louise Penny’s gentle and compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Far to the northwest at Rockton in the Yukon, that job falls to Kelley Armstrong’s guilt-ridden Detective Casey Duncan and brusque Sheriff Eric Dalton. Mystery series authors Penny and Armstrong are both Canadian.
I recently finished the last novel in Armstrong’s Rockton series. (There’s a more recent spin-off, for which I’m on the library wait list.) Despite parallels between Penny’s and Armstrong’s settings, they’re enormously different in tone. Residents of Three Pines settled there because they fell in love with the place. Residents of Rockton came there to hide—from stalkers, from abusers, and increasingly from the law. A distant, uncaring council runs it for profit by charging hefty entry fees. Facilities are basic. Half the residents can’t wait to get out.
I won’t say “If you like Armand Gamache, you’ll love Casey and Eric.” It sounds like a book-jacket blurb, and I don’t know your taste. Suffice it to say, I love them all and their all-but-invisible villages.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.