Well, I can hardly believe it but I’ve managed to catch up with Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache series. The Nature of the Beast is her latest and it’s set in Three Pines, that seemingly idyllic location which is actually quite dangerous to live in – given the murder count over recent years.
Armand Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie have retired and have chosen to settle in Three Pines. They are well known in the village and in turn they know the villagers well, so when a wee boy known for his wild imagination and tall tales rushes around shouting about a huge gun and a monster in the woodland surrounding Three Pines, nobody is particularly bothered, it’s just what he does.
So everybody ignores him, and that’s something that they live to regret. I really enjoyed this book although it is quite a bit darker and more unsettling in atmosphere than I usually go for.
In fact at one point I did think that the plot was maybe just a wee bit far-fetched, so I was completely flabbergasted to read in the author’s note at the end of the book that it was based on truth, with Gerald Bull being a real person, who was involved in weapons design and was happy to design and build weapons for anyone who would pay him. He designed Project Babylon for Saddam Hussein. I certainly didn’t hear anything about it in the news at the time. But if you’re interested you can read a New York Times article from 1990 about it here.