The Bistro

The Bistro

The Bistro Banner
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”

Oh, so many thoughts running through my head. Yes, when Gamache’s name is revealed to Fleming, I think that’s absolutely a clue that he will be back. I hope that poor little Adam Cohen isn’t caught in the cross-fire. as even though he made a mistake, it was an honest mistake made when he was frightened half to death! I was so worried that the next scene was going to show us Cohen dead by the side of the road, his car and Fleming missing… duh duh duh…

I missed the apple thing, and considering the apple’s place in the whole good and evil landscape, you’d think I’d have noticed. Now I have to read the whole book again, hahaha.

Love it when wonderful things happen Millie and you and your mum deserve a whole lot of wonderful. You have become your mum’s PA and I bet buckets you are being amazing so big pat on the back or BZ, that’s a Bravo Zulu in the Navy and means well done. I know communication between men and women can be tricky but I laughed at your description of the blank look….what is he saying, I could hear you thinking. I do that a lot with my husband and I am not bilingual!


Good point with Gamache’s comment. It is exciting to think of the possibilities in everyone’s lives right now. “What next” might become my new mantra because it embodies the idea that we have done something, achieved something and we are looking with relish to the challenge to come. I don’t always face the future that way, covers over the head comes to mind. But I will endeavor to be stronger. You would be with Gamache by your side.

Why I’ve been too busy to participate: do you all remember my younger son, his wife and I helped my mom self publish a little book of her poems last year? She’s been invited to participate in an International Book Fair at the Institute of Fine Arts in Puerto Rico next month and she wants me to go with her! Just the impetus she needed to help her fill in the ‘What Next’ in her life! So I’ve been doing all the requisite paperwork for registration and publicity and catalogues for her. A more techno phobic person than mom would be hard to find! Lol What a lot of emails- and in Spanish! Funny, I used to be able to mentally switch between the two without skipping a beat. During one instance, I was typing away in Spanish when my hubby said something in English and I just stared at him blankly. I feel I know the coordinators like great friends now. They have been so gracious, kind and patient. This is all uncharted territory for me! No wonder Louise has an assistant! LOL…

Cathryne: So good to see you pop in and say hi. I do hope you are able to get someone to give you a bit of ‘time off’ from caregiver duty. My mom couldn’t because, unlike Louise’s Michael, dad was paranoid of anyone he didn’t know… The emotional demands can be more exhausting than the physical. Rest all you can. Big hug from me to you.
Re: What’s next for Gamache? There were many mentions of his conversing with his ‘friend’ at CSIS in Quebec… But in chapter8, during the section when the new Sûreté agent sent to guard the crime scene is belligerent towards Gamache and finally says he doesn’t have to take orders from him, Gamache says, “We’ll see!” That just jumped out at me as a possible What Next for Gamache. Wish I could write more but unlike Anna (waving to you across land and sea but too tired to write a separate note right now), and much more like Julie, I can only really concentrate on one thing at a time. And I must practice becoming a ‘morning person’ for the book fair. Heaven help me! Lol…


Isn’t it interesting how Rosenblatt tries to run down the intelligence and capabilities of Fraser and Delorme (I didn’t remeber, I looked it up….there is no shame in that 🙂 ). Nobody is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in that crowd!

And don’t you love how Gamache is reading TKAM, a nice nod to Harper Lee I thought. I wonder if Louise read GSAW?


I couldn’t agree more Amy. I felt a bit ill with anxiety when I read that Adam had given away information. Not a good idea at all. Fleming is a fabulous character. We see him ever so briefly but he has had a profound effect. He is more three dimensional to me than Rosenblatt or the agents (whose names I have forgotten momentarily, don’t worry Louise it’s not your writing but my memory, I forget my own characters names at times). Perhaps because he has evil he casts a shadow that gives him more depth.

Once again all you ladies have provided excellent food for fodder! I too feel that we will be seeing some of these characters again, unfortunately I think John Flemming will be one of them; remember when Adam Cohen confesses he made a mistake and Armand acknowledges it? I feel this is somehow a lead in to another encounter between Armand and Flemming. On a lighter note, don’t you love how Louise has infused the book with the bountiful harvest of apples? I need her humor to get me thru the dark episodes!

Cathryne – so glad you are able to take a little time for respite in the Bistro. I second what everyone is saying about making sure you get enough rest, and eating well. I’m so sorry that your mom’s health is requiring so much from you right now, but hopefully, things will get better, and you can come in and comment some on the discussions. Til then, just know we’re here, rooting for you and for her.

Anna – just sent through a long post about one of my experiences in New York, with links to pictures of the Rainbow Room, and it is now “awaiting moderation”, so I guess it might not make it if it turns out those links are to copyrighted pictures or something. So, I’m copying the post and if it doesn’t make it through, I’ll post again without the pics. Hopefully, though, since the pics are already up on the internet, it will be okay.

Anna, it’s very hard to live vicariously through others without their cooperation, isn’t it? Hahaha. For me, when I went there, it was all about experiences. I had grown up watching movies set in New York, and I wanted to see some of the places, and do some of the things I’d seen. One of my biggest thrills was dancing in the Rainbow Room, at the top of 30 Rock. I’d grown up just sure that once I was grown, I’d be going to nightclubs all the time, sitting at little tables with little lamps on them, and watching bands play dance music. Of course, by the time I’d grown up, that was not the way people went out to dance anymore, hahaha. But in the Rainbow Room, time stood still. We had the most lovely time. First, we went to the bar for a drink, and we were seated in a spot that gave us a perfect, front and center view of the Empire State Building. You know in Sleepless in Seattle, when Meg Ryan and Bill Pullman have a drink and look out on the Empire State Building? Well, that was our view – I’m sure we were sitting at THAT table! Then we went in to the Rainbow Room itself. It’s a beautiful, though over-the-top room that at that time had silver and gold lame tablecloths and curtains, drawn up to show that wonderful city view! http://www.longislandwebdesigning.com/images/richard-zampella-rainbow.jpg
We sat at a little table for two on a raised platform, and right in front of the center of the dance floor. There was quite a large band playing ballroom music, and people were dancing! After awhile, a man in big shirt with large frilly sleeves – like this – http://www.bigbandlibrary.com/desiarnazholidayinhavanalobbycard.jpeg – came in and sat down at the piano and took over for the piano-player, who left. Then another came and replaced the guitar player, and another took over for the trumpet player, etc., etc. By the end of the song, which had continued uninterrupted, everyone had been replaced, and the new bandleader came in and they played latin songs for a set, then the same routine as the ballroom band came back. They did this all night, so there was never a time without live music to dance to. It was just as it should be. We had dinner, but you didn’t need to – some people seemed to be regulars who came in just to dance and nurse a drink, and nobody seemed to mind.

I was struck with how everyone seemed to know how to do those kinds of dances, even the young people – Vern says everyone probably still takes cotillion in lots of places around New York. Whatever the reason was, it was so fun to be there and dance, and just experience it all. And I’ve got another million stories, Anna, so you’d better stop me! hahaha

So lovely to hear from you Cathryne!!! Sorry to hear that the demands of caring have increased. Big hugs from me. It can be so draining that there are times when I have no idea how to frame a sentence so kudos to you for dropping us a line and letting us know how you are. Do get rest when you can. My husband says sleep is a weapon. He means it is important. And it is. Eat well when you can and be kind to yourself. Despite what I just said, if you need to collapse on the couch and eat handfuls of chocolate…go ahead.

Remember if you can’t sleep I am usually awake while everyone is asleep so there is usually at least one sympathetic ear monitoring the Bistro. In the meantime, sit a while by the fire with a hot chocolate or a glass of something stronger and just breathe.

I have been enjoying following everyone’s thoughts, fascinating. I appreciate that Louise threw these ideas out for us to contemplate. It will, indeed, be interesting to see where they lead in the next book(s).
Anna, of course, copyright laws. I’m so glad that you are getting a map from Julie. Brilliant!
Millie, thanks for your concern. Yes, caregiving has taken an upturn, my mom’s needs have expanded for the time. Things may be better in a few weeks. I’m a little shut down mentally at the moment, trying to focus and successfully complete what is needed each day. I always check the Bistro and Louise’s post each day. Her story about Michael reaching out to try to button her sweater has given me many smiles.
Anna, I admire your attempts to elicit info from your daughter, but you know it will come. Hard to wait, though. New York! What a thrill for her.
Julie, I love your dress and the fabric. So beautiful and it does look delicious to wear!
Barbara, glad you got the book and liked it so much. I am remembering your reminders to take care of my health and, for one thing, I’m making myself go early to bed. No more late nights in the Bistro for now!

Excellent thoughts Julie and Barbara!
I was thinking about sociopathy whe I read that too Julie. I wonder if sociopaths see themselves as defective. If you have never had strong emotional attachments such things might feel like a waste of energy. Of course there are successful sociopaths, business and politics are often where they make their mark because studies have shown that they react to money and its acquisition.
If we accept that sociopathy per se is not evil But that psychopathy might be then why do some choose to do evil things? Boredom perhaps. A desire to test the limits of their lack of feeling? Actually, they must get something out it because something reinforces the behaviour. What might Fleming seek? He certainly likes to induce fear and discomfort in others.

Barbara, you expressed an important point, evil is a choice. Do you think that is what Gamache meant? No matter whether they born sociopathic or not they weren’t necessarily damaged or hurt to become as they were but they chose it. In that case someone like Myrna would have little to offer in the way of help if they had simply wanted to be what they are and do what they do with a clear ability to reason and a knowledge of society’s mores, then what can you say?

Thank goodness Myrna didn’t go into the SHU. She is so sensitive, it would have had the potential to hurt her beyond repair.

it would seem that being damaged is not a required precursor for being evil. So many of those in Three Pines are damaged but it has let the light in, provided their goodness a chance to grow.

A consultancy job might be just the flexible ticket for Gamache for a while.
I have never been to New York Julie but wouldn’t that be a great venue for a novel. My husband has and my daughter is there right now and seems to be loving it. She isn’t good about providing detail so I sent her a fill in the blanks email with suggested words in brackets….The things I love in NY ( list what you have enjoyed seeing) because (expand on why you those things)……and yet still nothing. I guess she really is having too good a time to tell me about it. Sigh.

SPOILER ALERT………….SPOILER ALERT………………………………………….
Gamache’s remark, “Maybe some can’t be repaired because they were never damaged” leads to more than one line of thought.
I find it very hard to accept that some people are born monsters. As if, they were born dammed with no hope of redemption. That doesn’t seem just. Much in this life is not just though…birth defects, physical and mental, children born into horrible situations, some people who have wretched lives through no fault of their own, etc. I know that even some forms of Christianity now teach that people should not say “Christ Died for All” because salvation is not available to all – only those chosen. Don’t mean to get ‘preachy’, but such thoughts are very weighty.
It does seem though, that some people are just evil.
It seems to me, some people choose to be evil, not because they are unable to not be evil, not because they were damaged but because they just wanted to. I know the next question is “Why do they want to ?” I wish I could be more logical but I can’t.
I want to discuss Gamache’s and Reine-Marie’s future but I need an iced coffee, now.

Okay- I need more coffee – I had to start three times and all I got out was spoiler alert!

Anna, I think that there are some (a few) who you could say are not damaged, though certainly not the whole population of a place like the SHU… John Fleming is a pure sociopath, and I firmly believe that those are the ones born and not made. Those with absolutely no empathy. Just like there are birth defects you can see, there are some you can’t see. But your general, run-of-the-mill criminal, including most murderers (at least those that Gamache has been dealing with the last years) were not born that way – something or someone damaged them. But sometimes, the damage can be so great that there is nothing to be done. Myrna, I think, is one who felt her patients’ pain so deeply that finally, she couldn’t continue. She needed, not just to rest, but to help the world in a different way now. She does that by bringing books to the people of Three Pines, by being a wonderful friend and by helping Gamache. In the last few books (not this one so much), she has helped Gamache quite a bit in his cases.

Like you, Anna, I agree that Gamache needs to do something that allows him to be involved in cases, but I really don’t want to see him still involved in all homicide cases. I hadn’t thought of a one-off kind of thing for Haiti – that could be very cool. In fact, maybe he could stay in Three Pines and be a consultant for the UN, and every once in awhile, he could be called to a place for help. Sometimes, Jean-Guy and Isobel could assist. Three Pines isn’t THAT far from New York, where the UN is headquartered. I’d love to see something set there, too. New York is my favorite real place (Three Pines being my favorite imaginary place).

Now people! I have a need. I need creative discussion flowing here in the Bistro as it inspires me greatly. I have picking at the edges of my second book and it only took off this week when I finally got around to hearing Louise’s interview on the book tour. I set myself a lofty target of words per day and I almost made it five days straight. I am a few hundred short tonight so I need your help to keep going!

Anyone have any questions about TNOTB? Insights? Rages? It’s a great book. I know I should have made more notes when I read it. I did highlight a couple of things, handy Kindle function as I couldn’t do that to the real book.
When Gamache is talking to Myrna about the Soecial Handling Unit he asks why she didn’t do any counseling there. She responds that the prisoners in the SHU are too damaged and she felt her failing was that she couldn’t help them.
Gamache comments “Maybe some can’t be repaired because they were never damaged.”

In light of previous discussions on the nature of evil, the beast as it were, does Gamache’s statement imply that evil is born not made? What else do you take from it?


Yes teaching and mentoring are fortes for Gamache but he has to keep his hand in active investigating too. Teaching integrated with work is actually different to teaching in a college type environment. While I think he could do either I wonder if he wouldn’t prefer the former.

I don’t want Gamache to go too far but Louise does love Island time so maybe he could do a short trip away with work. That would be a book like Beautiful Mystery, a more isolated environment.

Like Julie, I would like to see something for Reine-Marie. She adapts so well to any situation but she is an intelligent woman capable of so much. She deserves an opportunity to doc that and her skills are so valuable for investigations. Mmmm….what job might she do that could give her access to information Gamache might need?

I thought Ruth was softer in this novel, well fewer sharp edges. I can’t see her changing too much more. The villagers wouldn’t cope. They need Ruth as a foil for their jokes!

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”.


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…

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.


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.

Leave a Reply to Kim B Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Skip to content