136cover250Hi Everyone,

Louise Penny’s thoughtful, deeply humane brand of crime fiction has won her a large and devoted following. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is, as his creator describes him, “a serene, content man who, at his core, is happy.” Gamache is also a bit of a philosopher, as can be seen in this excerpt from Penny’s latest novel, The Long Way Home.

Armand Gamache considered himself more an explorer than a hunter. The goal was to discover. And what he discovered could still surprise him.

How often had he questioned a murderer expecting to find curdled emotions, a soul gone sour? And instead found goodness that had gone astray.

He still arrested them, of course. But he’d come to agree with Sister Prejean that no one was as bad as the worst thing they’d done.

Armand Gamache had seen the worst. But he’d also seen the best. Often in the same person.

Penny’s novels have increased tourism in Quebec’s beautiful Eastern Townships, the locale of Gamache’s beloved village of Three Pines. You’ll want to get on the road to Three Pines yourself after reading Oline Cogdill’s chat with the author in this issue.

The lives of mystery writers are as varied as their books. In this issue, Jon L. Breen has put together a wide-ranging survey of memoirs and autobiographies by crime fiction authors as disparate as Agatha Christie, Chester Himes, and Sara Paretsky.

Ed Gorman’s Sam McCain, featured in a series that ranges from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, has been described as a “small-town hero.” He’s more than that, though. Sam is living through—and bearing perceptive witness to—the social upheavals that will transform the United States. Change has its price, though, and as Tom Nolan notes in “Riders of the Storm,” Sam is paying it more and more as the years go by.

The irresistibly corrupt Frank Underwood, played to oily perfection by Kevin Spacey, is the moral vacuum at the center of the political drama House of Cards. Frank and his equally formidable wife Claire (Robin Wright, in an astonishing performance), are the Washington power couple from hell. As Jake Hinkson notes in “High Crimes & Misdemeanors,” it’s not democracy—but it sure is entertaining.

Also in this issue, Joe Goodrich looks at the life of David Goodis, who has belatedly come to be appreciated as a master of noir, and Michael Mallory considers Phoebe Atwood Taylor’s Yankee sleuth, Asey Mayo, also known as the “Codfish Sherlock.” Enjoy!

Kate Stine