Gamache Series Open Discussion

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.

Paul Hochman

Discussion on “Gamache Series Open Discussion

  1. Anna says:


    Millie, I agree absolutely that war is hell and can create a psychological environment that allows humans to do awful things. But, and it’s a big but….”just following orders” is never a defense. It didn’t work for the Nazis at Nuremburg and it doesn’t work in today’s military. Not following a lawful order in wartime can be punishable by death but there is such a thing as an unlawful order and killing innocent civilians would fall into that category. Carrying out an unlawful order is a crime in itself.

    I didn’t feel sorry for Al really. He did a terrible thing and he ran away afterwards. If he truly felt he was doing what he had to do then he should have stood up and faced his accusers and given a defense. But he knew it was wrong. When he said “I was alone……..but I did it anyway I lost all feeling for him. He reminded me of Dleming at that point. And he was cowardly. He was cowardly then and he was cowardly when his son found what he found (I am still trying to be cryptic to avoid obvious spoilers which is really hard!). Why not tell his son that he was right? Why not say he wasn’t lying? If he had spoken up then his son wouldn’t have had to die.

    It is much harder to be good than bad sometimes. Julie said that Gamache was a thoroughly good man and he is. No wonder he is tired and in need of the space of Three Pines. But he is too good to stay there.

  2. Anna says:

    I didn’t realise I was so angry with Al! Sorry.

    • Julie says:

      Hey, you’re very right to be angry with Al. He DID do a horrible, unforgivable thing. I just see him as two completely different people in each of his circumstances. But I can understand being unable to find the good in him, no matter how hard he tried… And you’re very right – if he’d let Laurent know that he was right – if he’d followed him into the woods to “find” the gun, it might have saved a great number of lives. He is directly responsible for Laurent’s death in that case… yet another unforgivable act.

      • Kim B says:

        But at that point in time, nobody was aware that Brian was looking for the WOB and the plans. And Laurent blurted out his “find” to the villagers and only told his parents later. If Al wasn’t aware of the searchers, he wouldn’t have been on guard.
        I don’t know Al’s age when he committed his worst evil. I pictured him as young and impressionable, believing in the intelligence of his commanders. He would have been taught (indoctrinated) that war calls for situational ethics. And he only thought it through after it was too late. What a horrible “too late” for all! Lambs to the slaughter. Laurent, the little lamb. Laurent to the slaughter. You can’t run away from mistakes…they show up again in choices or fate.

  3. SPOILER ALERT……………………………………………………………………………………………………

    Antoinette believed the play was worthy of production. It was not a about praising or excusing evil. Though I have no experience in the theater, I have read of instances were plays have opened in spite of protests. The play was not evil but was written by an evil man. I would not have wanted to see it just as I would not want one of Hitler’s paintings. I would dwell too much on the evil of the man. At the same time, would I refuse medical treatment if a terrible person had developed it ? No, I would be thankful the treatment existed. Judgment of creations that carry the stain of an evil creator becomes very confusing and illogical.

    • Anna says:

      Interesting what you say about medical treatment Barbara. There was a lot of medical knowledge gained by terrible experiments that the Nazis performed. So much debate about whether to use the knowledge. The information became tainted with how it was developed even though it was valuable.

      As for your abilities Barbara….hard to explain them I am sure but accept. They are you and they are important. Actually quantum physics +/- string theory certainly has room to explain such things. Particle entanglement comes to mind. Your husband is just coping in the only way he knows how.

      • Anna, Nazi experiments came to mind as I was writing.
        Being married to me has not been easy for my husband, I know. His life would have been much more ” on course” if he had married someone more like him and his. He knew we were very different but thought it would not matter so much. I really think he thought I would change or mellow. Love can conquer all but it doesn’t always.

  4. Millie, I am reminded of becoming very agitated in class one day and knowing Mother needed me. Her condition had worsened since I had left for school and her Dr. wanted her back in the hospital. My ability came from her. She warned me not to tell others as they would think me crazy. Poor dear, I can imagine how she was ridiculed by those she grew up with. Even after all these years and many proofs my husband refuses to believe that sometimes I just know.

  5. We certainly do stifle creativity in children. Even today, very young children are told that when they color the grass must be green, the sky blue, and the dog can not be orange. None of that is even true. Grass is not always green, the sky is not always blue and an apricot poodle might well be considered orange. Forcing a child to follow the “rules” isn’t even honest. Even though the sky isn’t green and grass isn’t usually red so what. I have colored flowers, etc. unusual colors recently simply because I chose to. Made a picture I found very pleasing.

  6. I’m checking back to the previous page as so much is being written and I don’t want to fail to see everything.
    A lovely picture of LP greeted me as I walked into the Library yesterday. She is on the over of Book Page with an excellent interview. Book, Print Edition has it. She tells of writing first drafts and how she puts everything in it. No ideas are forgotten because the weren’t written down. I have always made the mistake of rewriting until each sentence was perfect. I now see the folly in that. You can’t go forward.

  7. Millie says:

    Kim, I understood what you wrote! Between Spanish and the Latin, that was a requirement, I can get the gist most times. Like ‘livre’ in French is ‘libro’ in Spanish is ‘book’ in English! Thank you for offering to help me practice, but I’m still learning words. Much to my dismay when we moved from the States to Puerto Rico, I found there’s a huge gap between understanding a language perfectly and speaking it. I was stubborn. My parents would speak Spanish at home but I wanted to learn to speak English without an accent. Mission accomplished but little did I know I’d need Spanish in my mid teens to early 20’s. At University I had to tape the lectures, go home and replay them and write it out in English my first year before I could study, especially classes like philosophy! I didn’t have time to tackle another language then.
    Recently, I asked my mom why did I study so hard? Her response made me laugh. “So you could get a job as a bilingual Tour Guide / VIP hostess when we moved back to the States? My favorite ‘job’!

    I think it’s wonderful your minor was French at University. But I know what you mean about not having many opportunities to use the language. I was lucky that mom sent me to a high school in Puerto Rico that was a college prep academy geared towards daughters (all girls school) of American businessmen who needed a crash course in Spanish but the other classes were in English, or girls who knew they would be attending University in the States. I remember the morning I woke up running into the kitchen to tell my mom I had dreamt in Spanish! That was when I felt ‘bilingual’! But after my few years at Disney, and marrying an Anerican, I’ve had few opportunities to practice my Spanish other than the daily calls to mom when I try to speak it with her but I fall back to answering in English a lot. I’m still good at it but not like I used to be. And my parents spoke slowly. When I watch a TV show in Spanish, especially from Spain, they speak so fast my brain gets tired. Lol…

    • Kim B says:

      After grade 12 and again in University, I had 2 immersion summers in Quebec – the first in Quebec City (where I didn’t learn as much) and the second in Chicoutimi (where I became reasonably fluent). But that was a long time ago and I’ve become rusty. If you are looking toward listening to some French, try the news. The reporters tend to speak formally, so you don’t get caught up in regional accents and slang. And, if you follow the news in English, there is some overlap to help in guessing the substance.
      In teaching a second language, we were encouraged to follow the “listen, speak, read, write” approach as the natural progression in learning a first language. That works well with children, but I think most adults’ “ear” for language gradually shuts down, making reading and writing easier than listening and speaking.

  8. Julie says:

    Rosenblatt will be back, I’m sure of it. Whether he’s friend or foe, I don’t know – but he is definitely not just a “harmless professor”, that’s for sure. I kept waiting to find out his involvement – maybe he’s fighting on the side of good… who knows? While the Project Babylon issue was related to the central murder(s), it was one of the villagers who was guilty. Which means, to me, that the central figures we’ve seen so far might still be around in a later work, Rosenblatt chief among them.

    • Anna says:

      I love how Louise leaves some mystery in her characters. I try to have ones that are more lightly drawn so I can get to know them later. I wonder if Louise knows even now what role some of these characters will play as she moves forward. I am sure she has some ideas but what I love is when my characters surprise me.

  9. Rosenblatt, Fraser, and Delorme will all be back I think. We have much to learn about them. Fraser and Delorme ……Don’t know if they are good guys or bad, but I think both would do whatever was necessary to fulfill the mission.
    Rosenblatt is not a simple little retired guy either.

  10. Millie says:

    No offense taken, Anna! That’s the marvel of how well this story is written. It evokes emotions. Lots of different emotions depending on the filter of the reader. I’ve just had a really busy day. And tomorrow doesn’t look good for me to sit and chat. :-( But I will. I hope I don’t get totally lost. If everyone comments independently at the bottom and refers to who and what we are commenting on, rather than replying to someone else’s comment, it’s easier to pick up where we left off. It worked really well before. Just a suggestion…

  11. Julie says:

    Millie, I think that’s the best way to do it, too – I often forget to go back and look for later comments, plus, I often get lost and forget what I’m looking for, haha. My mind is sometimes my weakest link, it seems.

    I’ve been enjoying the discussion of evil acts vs evil creations – lots for me to think about… I’m terrible at starting a new topic, so hope one or more of you will direct the conversation…

  12. Anna says:


    A recurring theme in this book is “What Next?” That makes me happy because it is thinking about a future thus implying we have a long way yet to travel with our Three Pines crew.

    There were lots of clues given for what might be next for Gamache and certainly a role with an element of teaching and mentoring seems suitable but he is also a consummate investigate so that has to be worked in there.

    What about everyone else? Did anyone spot the clues that might be a hint as to a direction for anyone else? Obviously big changes coming for JG I imagine but what about the others?

  13. Kim B says:

    A teaching or an official consultant role would work for Gamache. It would be a way to allow Gamache to introduce new officers so that we could continue to move in and out of Three Pines. I think the head of the Surete may be too obvious – and it would be strange if all of his attention was taken up by homicide. Plus Gamache has always been in a position where he doesn’t have all of the power…. he is a foil for the “just following orders” characters as he puts his position on the line by choosing to follow character and conscience over authority when necessary.

    • Anna says:


      Good thoughts Kim. I wondered if the next mystery might take them beyond just murder into a broader intrigue. Maybe Gamache will take a role that brings organisations other than the Surete into the story as this book did.

      I agree that Gamache can be an omnipotent being, his vulnerability keeps us on the edge of our seats as he doesn’t always have the power to stop bad things happening.

  14. Julie says:


    There was something near the end about an offer from the United Nations, and heading up a force in Haiti, which JG had recognized as being a perfect job for Gamache, and near to his heart. But he didn’t want Gamache so far away. Me either. I want him to have something to do with bringing up new recruits and training them properly, which was a suggestion of Isobel’s. Therese Brunel wants him to be the new Superintendent for major crimes, which would include Homicide, but I also think that would be putting him right back where he was, even though at a higher rank. It feels like a step backward. I love the idea of him teaching, or revising the recruitment criteria, etc., to ensure that fewer guys like the little jerk who was sent to watch the crime scene get in.

    What I think should happen (it would in a world where I was in charge, hahaha) is this time, he and Reine-Marie make a move to a place where she is able to have a dream job… We haven’t seen much of her work, but in several cases, both her research abilities and her high security clearance to get through online archives have helped cases. I’d love to see more for her to do but smile and be supportive. Still, Gamache is the heart and soul of the stories, and he would have to have the right fit, too.

    Louise has left many suggestions out there – I wonder where she’s taking us…

  15. Julie says:

    One of the biggest things for me in this novel, was Ruth and her part in the story. She has been eaten up with guilt for so long… I’m sure it’s the biggest part of what has twisted her sense of being able to trust. Will that change now? I don’t expect she will suddenly become a grandmotherly-type, baking cookies and helping everyone. But I do expect she might begin to relax a little of her constant “on-guardedness”.

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