The Bistro

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Join us here in The Bistro for a discussion on the entire Gamache series. Feel free to ask or answer any questions about any of the books or the series as a whole.

Discussion on “The Bistro”

I almost went for the Cornish pasties, but Vern doesn’t like them quite as much as a good pork pie – delicious! I have a wonderful pastry recipe, and a newfound interest in pies in general after the raised pie at our Jane Austen do – I think I’ll try my hand at a small one with meat. Vern has that wonderful quality of never remembering something that he’s done or had in the past, so he was pleasantly surprised to find that there was “all meat” in those pies. Our “pot pies” have varying amounts of veggies and broth and a tiny amount of meat in them, so he hadn’t known what to expect. Maybe I should try the pasties on him again, as he didn’t remember ever having a meat pie before…

How much info you gave us in a short space. That amazes me about writers. They are able to tell us so much about the characters without it appearing as LOOK HERE. needed info. Can’t wait to find out more about the victim.
My mouth watered when there was talk of Cornish pasties. I had read about them and heard them spoken of on British TV shows. I remember enjoying one in Bath, England. So good. We bought extras to eat later on the bus before reaching our hotel for the night. We put one in the fridge and went out to the evening activities. It was our midnight snack when the group returned. A quick zap in the microwave and it was ready.
There is a British shop in Aiken, SC less than 25 miles from here. I have brought some wonderful things there. I think I see a ride over to The British Shop in my future. Thanks for the Cornish pie reminder Julie.
Anna, Did I laugh at the thought of Pete at the airport with his sign. What a great sense of humor.

I told Pete about the pasties Peg and he got all excited. “Do you think someone would bring some down to me’ he said. I could meet them at Reagan airport with a sign saying pies and pasties here please! Maybe we will just come up there one day. You will have to tell us where to shop.
Snowbound has passed 10000 words…definitely heading for novella or novel status. Hopefully all your questions will be answered Julie….mine too!

That’s what I meant Peg. Looks like I need to head in your direction for my meat pie! We have a famous pastry shop in our town so we are spoilt for pies and pasties. My husband loves a Cornish pastie. We haven’t found them as commonplace in the States or Canada. They are available in Whistler….maybe because of all the Australians. Or maybe we look in the wrong places. Now I have a craving……

Yum yum yum. We love pies…they don’t seem to be such a big thing in North America. Enjoy dinner Julie.
Louise’s newsletter is out for those who haven’t received it by email!

Anna, by pies I think you mean meat pies, rather than dessert pies? Pot pies and especially Cornish pasties are popular here in southwest Wisconsin due to our lead mining history. Also shepherd’s pie….

Brrrrr – now I’m feeling cold on this hot day, hahaha. I could do with a bacon buttie myself! But I’m in for a treat tonight – I stopped at The British Pantry today on my way home (a store that sells British grocery items) to stock up on pickled onions, which are not available anywhere else around here. They have fresh pastries baked on the premises, and so we will be having pork pie, beef and onion pie and for dessert, apple tarts tonight. I love their meat pies!

Ooops – meant to say something more about the story, but hit the post button too soon! Love it so far – very intriguing – why is Reggie dressed down? Or is he? Maybe the address is an old one… So happy to see Fox and Collie again!

Can’t remember the Secret Seven, Famous Five, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden. Nancy Drew or any of that crowd aging out either…..and summer seemed to last forever. Strangely I can’t suspend reality that much in my books….time still flows albeit a bit slower. I think Louise is the same. I do remember her talking about it once.

I’m saving the story for later, because I’m off in a few minutes – but wanted to jump in here and say wouldn’t it be fun to have a series of books based on Beauvoir and Annie? Maybe if Armand ever really retires… I wonder if Louise plans on aging people much? I know that Poirot didn’t really age – he was already “retired” from the Belgian police when he started working for Agatha Christie – and he went on for many years at about the same age… I’ve got no problem with that, hahaha.

Thanks Cathryne. Writing for you guys gives me a goal. Really glad you like it. It will be fun to find out who did what. I shall edit and write. Maybe that’s what I am meant to do…like Dickens I shall write my stories as serials?
I like your thoughts on Beauvoir! So many exciting possibilities. It would be good to see Annie and how she develops.
I hope your responsibilities aren’t too onerous Cathryne. It was so nice to see you. I do miss you and I know the others do too. Feel free to send an email to me or to Julie. Our emails are on the previous page, or the one before that, if you feel comfortable to do so. I would hate for the Bistro to go dark half way through the story and not be able to tell you how it ended!

Anna, you had me at the title: Snowbound.
I’m already pulled into the story and wishing I could reach in to give Fox some warm gloves!
More, more, more, please.
I must go and attend to responsibilities but I wanted to say hello and thanks for the taster, I’m ready for another course.

Enjoying the character speculation involving Gamache and all. Now that someone has brought up Beauvoir, I feel like he would be an inspired choice for Therese Brunell’s job, but someday well in the future. Think what an advantage Annie would be, too!


Detective Inspector Robbie Fox stomped his feet and wondered, not for the first time, whether it was actually possible to get frostbite in Britain despite wearing his best walking boots. His wife, Caroline, had bought them for Christmas five years ago and up until now they had served him well in most of the weather Abbottsby could muster but they had never met snow before. Seriously, it was hardly the Scottish HIghlands but this morning it may as well of been.
The Inspector cast envious glances at the fur-topped apres boots sported by his DS, the ever practical Toni Collie, who was conversing happily with the local pathologist. She looked ever so warm in her hooded ski jacket and waterproof gloves as she chatted to young Dr Morgan Ngige. Fox shoved his own aching fingers deeper in o the pockets of his Barbour jacket and sniffed loudly. The cold was making his nose drip in a very unattractive manner. He dragged a handkerchief out and wiped the offending nostril quickly before returning his hand, and the hanky, to his pocket.
Toni strode over to his side and looked at her boss with concern.
“What on earth are you doing out in this weather without gloves?”
“I had gloves. They are in the Rover.”
“Is it locked? Give me your keys and I’ll fetch them for you,” Collie offered, holding out a hand snuggly wrapped in ski gloves.
Fox winced. “Thanks but there’s no point. They got wet when I was clearing snow off the windshield. I was too tired to put the car away in the garage last night. No-one told me this was going to happen.”
Collie wasn’t sure if he meant the murder or the snow storm but she suspected both. The DI’s old leather gloves were barely adequate for a normal winter and they were definitely not appropriate in the current conditions. Best they get on with things she decided and get back to somewhere warm.
“Adult male in his mid fifties. Driver’s licence gives his name as Reginald Dunn with an address on Old Crowley Road.”
Fox raised an eyebrow and looked over at the corpse. Collie knew what he was thinking.
“I know. His appearance doesn’t really match the address. The overcoat he is wearing is shiny and worn and his shoes have been resoled.”
“A rich eccentric in well loved clothes he can’t bear to part with?” supposed Fox although he didn’t believe it.
“Even so, what is he doing in the Middens and who would want to stab old Reggie and leave him to bleed to death in the street? If he was a twenty something looking to score drugs or do a dodgy deal then I could understand it. My guess is someone twigged that he was dressing down and we will find this is a robbery gone wrong.”
They both glanced around as if the answer was to be found in the surrounding landscape. The Middens was the local name for the old worker’s cottages that lapped at the edges of the nearby council estate. The area was dank and crumbling and not a place the police entered happily. There were no front yards, just overflowing bins and rusting cars, although the worst was hidden under a clean new blanket of snow so that the street looked almost presentable. There were no working street lamps in the near vicinity but the crime scene manager had organised portable floods so there was just one pool of light illuminating the scene like a stage in a darkened theatre.
“Anything helpful to be found or do we have to wait for the sun to come up and the snow to melt?”
“First on scene say the body was covered in snow and there were no footprints nearby. None. They couldn’t even tell which direction Reggie was coming from. No weapon has been found but we are looking.”
“What time did it start snowing?”
“The patrol officers tell me it began a couple of hours before midnight and it was still falling heavily when the call came in. We are lucky it has eased up. They are trying to get a tent up over the body but the van carrying it slid into a ditch on the way here. In the meantime DC Boddin is overseeing the search and we are waiting on extra bodies for the door to door.”
Police were rarely welcome in The Middens and there would not be a warm hello and a cup of tea for anyone knocking on doors and rousing the citizens before daybreak in this neighbourhood. Fox was not keen to be around when that started. He doubted they would get any useful information, they would be lucky to get a civil word.
“Does Ngige have a time of death?”
“A little tricky with the frosty coating but he thinks it was probably around the same time the snow started falling. In fact he measured the snow depth on the back of the corpse and compared it to what was on the ground nearby and they were consistent. Six hours ago is a rough guess.”
“Not a lot we can do here. What say you and I take a trip to Crowley Road?” ventured Fox, thinking longingly of the heated seats in the Land Rover and the 24 hour cafe on the main road which served surprisingly decent coffee and excellent bacon butties.

Ohboyohboyohboy! I would LOVE to read more of Fox and Collie! We’re here if you need any “early readers” or proof-readers, Anna! (jumping up and down).

If you have unusually cold weather for any length of time, just leave the water on at a trickle – the movement also stops it from freezing until it gets REALLY cold – think rivers – they do freeze, but not at the same temperatures as ponds.

Another thing that Canadians do is not have much of the pipes on outside walls of the house – of course, the water must come INTO the house from outside, but you shouldn’t run them inside on the outer walls, which can get very cold. My parents, living in Fort Erie, where it didn’t get very cold very often, and in an old house, had all their upstairs bathroom plumbing on the outside wall, and very little insulation in their house, so it would freeze often until they started leaving the water on at a trickle almost all the time in winter.

Hi, Peg. I agree. Keep talking, Fox and Collie. Can’t wait to learn what they are up to now.
I haven’t read much in months. Even Rita Mae Brown and her Sneaky Pie mysteries couldn’t interest me. I love them because the cats and dog talk to each other and try to steer her in the right direction to slove a mystery. The first book was Murder She Purred and was made into a movie for TV…Murder She Meowed. I do like mysteries with dogs and cats. Here’s hoping I’m ready to read whenTGR appears. I think I will be.
A huge 4th of July Celebration is bein held at Ft.Gordon tonight. Free to the public. Thunderstorms are forcast but I hope they hold off. I won’t be attending but think it a wonderful event for the military families as well as everyone else.
Julie, I had wondered how pipes were kept from freezing in extreme cold. Interesting solution. We just wrap newspaper around any exposed outdoor pipes and faucets. Not much help I wonldn’t think in very low temps.

Hi, Barbara, I love Rita Mae Brown’s books, both the Mrs. Murphy series and the Sister Jane Arnold foxhunting ones. I have read all of them starting from the first with each. I especially love how Inky the fox and Diana the foxhound like to chat. The latest two Murphy ones that go back and forth between colonial and present Virginia have been great for me. Definite character development.

I just started rereading the Murphys and it is sad for me to realize how some of the interesting early characters are no longer mentioned in the newer ones. Not every mystery reader’s cup of tea but definitely mine.

Wow Barbara…that program does sound intriguing. I love wondering about the world around us. I laughed when you said US history was boring in College. Most people I know find Australian history as taught at school very tedious. It isn’t…there is a lot in there but they tend to focus on the same stuff over and over and it is very dry. Maybe it is similar to the phenomena that is rear to visit local tourist attractions but we rush to do that when we visit somewhere new. Complacency with the familiar perhaps. I too have developed an interest in Canadian history since reading Louise’s books.
My water woes appear to be all solved thanks to Blake the plumber. He was covered in mud after crawling under the house but he was wearing a CSI set of overalls so that helped. Must have been cold though. He asked after my Dad who he remembered from the time he was here before which had to have been 18 mths to two years ago. It was almost worth the drama to have a chat to such a nice person.
It doesn’t normally get so cold anywhere in Australia that would justify heating the pipes but it is a prolonged cold spell. When I say cold -5 at night. That was common when I grew up in the country and I don’t remember our pipes having problems. The puddle would freeze and water in the garden hose. Even so, the plumber indicated they were having a few people with similar issues.
Another day of cold and glorious sunshine. I wrote some more last night. Fox and Collie have been chatty. I don’t think it is a short story…a short novel more like.

Barbara – your thoughts about the gun issue here pretty much hits the nail on the head, I think. Since I come from another country, where guns are banned except for hunting, it seems odd to me to find the average person wanting a hand gun for protection, and a big part of me still says that shouldn’t be, but I am a realist. It really is a fair interpretation of the second amendment that every citizen has a right to protect themselves with firearms. But how that has extrapolated into everyone needing an assault rifle is beyond me. But I think we all know where I stand, hahaha – no point in repeating it.

I love the Creation Story idea, Barbara – I’m sure that was very interesting. And Anna – how interesting that you will have relatives to look up at Arlington. I have just gone to look for “women at Arlington Cemetery ” and found that there are many more than I would have supposed, and that there is a walking tour you can do to see the sites of notable women buried there, plus a museum dedicated to women in the military. If I were there, I’d drag you to that, hahaha.

Like Anna, I do think that Gamache has to be involved in actual detective work, too – so maybe that’s where Jean Guy will be a kind of liaison, in that he will often come to Gamache to help him with cases… Of course, there’s nothing stopping Lacoste from doing that, too. He’s been such a great mentor to them both.

Anna – I hope your water woes are far behind you – that was always an issue for my parents in Canada – I usually lived places much colder than they did, where they had taken measures to be sure water pipes couldn’t freeze, but my parents tried to stay in the warmer climes in Canada, and therefore, the odd freeze would do damage. It always seemed odd to me that, since they knew how to stop water pipes from freezing in 40 degrees below zero, why couldn’t they use the same techniques to stop it in 5 below? I guess cost – the way to do it for the colder places is to wrap it in, basically, an electric blanket that is on at a very low setting all the winter long. Not enough to heat the water, but enough to stop the freezing. There must be an electrical bill associated with that, that they thought they could avoid – but I’d have thought that the small amount of electricity would be offset by the savings of not having to make repairs, never mind the inconvenience.

Julie, You summed up what I was thinking about Gamache. I think The Great Reckoning will be the final cleansing of the Surete. When the young policeman was so rude to Gamache, I thought then…they need you, Gamache.
Like you I wonder what is in Guy’s future. Good things I hope.
There is just something comforting about hold a book and reading. It cloudy here today and a little cool. Just perfect for reading .

And the good news is that the plumber is here and the offending ruptured pipe has been found. With any luck we will have water for dinner. It has been interesting without running water but not really. I turned it on briefly and filled the sink and the kettle and the water in the fridge so we weren’t suffering as long as I could have my tea!
My Uncle, by marriage, just told me his sister, brother in law and he thought his mother, were buried in Arlington cemetery so I have some work to do. I found Grave Finder and there is an app so I can go and look. I think I have found his sister and her husband but not his mum. I will send Peter to take photos as my Uncle is not young and due for surgery in a month. I would like to get photos for him before then.

Gravefinder can be a great help. An unexpected coincidence. A course in American History should prove to be interesting. I have to confess that I found the subject boring in college. All I could focus on then was Greek and Roman history. I have read many books on US history since then but focus mainly on european history. Since beginning the Gamache series, I have been reading Canadian history.
As I have mentioned before, Sam watches programs on TV that deal with Space Aliens visiting Earth, etc. Recently on Aliens there was a very interesting program about the stories of Creation as a part of their oral tradition. It was an excellent presentation and the Elder who told the stories was an impressive speaker. Sam had recorded it for me to watch.

I think you have touched on an interesting thing Barbara. There is a different relationship between people, states and federal government in the US that isn’t the same here. It is fascinating. I do look forward to understanding US history….perhaps I will find a course to do. Not on line, but with real people. I shall look.
I agree that there is a teaching role for Armand but he needs to be investigating too. That could be incidental to his role or part of it. I do love Therese. I love how she came to the Surete!
Dramas here…think a water pipe has broken with the freezing temps. I have called plumber but I can’t find the problem, I can just hear it. I was wandering around the house and the garden at 4 am trying to track it down and eventually shutting off the water. The Stars were amazing as the night was clear and cold which was an unexpected joy! -4 deg C. I had to put the electric blanket on when I got back to bed. Still, a small issue with what is happening in the world.

Anna – books really CAN be comforting, can’t they? Apart from those I re-read over and over, I’m trying very hard not to buy paper and cardboard books – but stick to the Kindle versions, for storage’s sake. But not everything you want is on Kindle, and some MUST be admired for their tactile properties… So I’d never be able to do without bookcases. You’ll have to buy at least one while you’re in the US – you can find affordable ones at IKEA, or you could scour garage and estate sales once you’re here…

I see Gamache as being right back into things with the Surete – but on a different plane – teaching. I’ve always felt that was his best skill – and the one foremost in his mind as he went along. His encounter with the young police recruits who were so ill-trained in Nature of the Beast convinced me that they really need him. Hopefully, with his friend, Thérèse Brune in charge, he has been persuaded to head up the training division. I really don’t know even what to hope for for Beauvoir – I think he’s not going to climb up the ladder now – but I think he is such a good detective, I can’t see him doing anything else. Then again – he was most effective as part of that particular team that Gamache headed – and he loves Gamache so much, maybe he would be good with him… Then again, maybe he can get back on track to advance within the department…

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