A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
I love Agatha Christie. I discovered her in high school with And Then There Were None (which is brilliant, by the way), and I was hooked. I typically can't figure out who the murderer is - and there's always a murderer - and I think Mrs. Marple and Hercule Poirot are equally as well-written as Sherlock Holmes. But that isn't the only reason I love her books. Looking back, I've realized what really grabs me and keeps me reading is just how cozy they are.
People are forever drinking tea in front of fireplaces. They're walking down cobbled lanes or country roads while the sun is setting. There are a lot of discussions about doilies and biscuits and lovable dogs curled up by the kitchen tables.
Her books transport me.
I read Louise Penny's first book about Quebec's Inspector Gamache, Still Life, a few years ago, and totally by accident. I think it was a Kindle daily deal or something. But I was delighted to discover her books gave me exactly the same feeling as Agatha Christie's. Coziness. It doesn't matter if it's five zillion degrees outside (and it totally is at the moment I'm writing this), all I want to do is grab a huge cup of fancy espresso-based coffee with a ton of cream, a flaky croissant, and curl up with a fleece blanket on my couch. I'm even tempted to light my fireplace, but I don't because I've never actually used it, and I'm terrified there might be a family of bats or something camped out in my chimney.
Each Gamache book centers on a different citizen of the fictional Quebec town of Three Pines, and this book is about the town's resident eccentric artist, Clara Morrow. Clara has finally landed a huge art show, and everyone is thrilled, until a dead body turns up in her garden the morning after the show. It turns out that Clara knew the murder victim when they were younger, and she becomes the main suspect. Inspector Gamache and his second-in-command, Jean-Guy, set out to prove Clara's innocence.
As with each of her books, while there is a light-heartedness about much of the story, there's also a tinge of melancholy buried inside - much like an actual trick of the light.