Category Archives: Audiobooks

Glass Houses and Readalikes for Louise Penny

cover image of Glass Houses audiobookGlass Houses by Louise Penny is #13 in the Armand Gamache series, and the books have become enormously popular. I’d like to think I was an early adopter, but #1 came out in 2006, and I can’t say for sure I’ve been pushing these books for 11 years!

If you haven’t heard of Louise Penny, you must not avoid anything that even remotely resembles crime fiction. She was even on CBS Morning America last month:

https://www.cbsnews.com/videos/louise-penny-on-her-new-inspector-gamache-novel-glass-houses/

Glass Houses might be a hard one to jump into the series with, because the series is so far along, but I think the book succeeds both as a stand-alone title and in moving the characters forward in the series. The author does very well bringing in enough backstory for new readers (or to remind regular readers of the series) to grasp the personalities and motivations of the main characters and the essential peacefulness of the village of Three Pines, which manages to remain undisturbed despite the disturbing number of violent murders that happen there!

In an interview recorded with the audiobooks’ new narrator, Robert Bathurst, at the end of Glass Houses, Louise Penny says her books aren’t crime fiction. With the main character the Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, the police department for the whole of the province, and with a murder mystery at the center of just about every book, it seems like plain old genre prejudice to claim the books aren’t “crime fiction”.  But they definitely do fall at the literary end of the crime fiction spectrum, with themes for each book and thematic explorations of ethics and morality running throughout the series.

With characters who grow and change over the course of the series; the author’s fondness for word play and her often poetic language; and the rigorous intellectual, philosophical, moral, and cultured scaffolding every story is mounted on, these books will probably not appeal to readers looking for a straightforward murder mystery.

I’ve tried before on this blog to come up with a list of authors to try if you like Louise Penny, and I still think Jane Langton’s Homer and Mary Kelly mysteries are the closest match for style. But here is a list of other books that might hit the spot while fans of Louise Penny-style literary crime fiction (Shhh, don’t tell the author I said crime fiction!) wait for next year’s Armand Gamache book.

(I’ve listened to all of the Armand Gamache books on audio, as I do most of my crime fiction, so all of the books on this list are also recommended as audiobooks.)

Jasper Fforde
Thursday Next series
Less serious and with fantasy elements, the word play and humor of these books might appeal to readers who find the banter of the residents of Three Pines one of the best parts of this series.

Jane Langton
Homer and Mary Kelly series
The author imbues her mysteries with history and culture with deftness and humor. The marriage of Homer and Mary Kelly is reminiscent of the Armand and Rene Marie Gamache partnership.

G.M. Malliet
Max Tudor series
Classic village mysteries with a handsome, unmarried vicar in the lead role, these stories have the wit and ironic self-regard seen in the lighter books in the Armand Gamache series.

Inger Ash Wolfe
Hazel Micallef series
Darker in tone than even the darkest of the Armand Gamache books, the Hazel Micallef books may appeal to readers looking for literary crime fiction with realistic characters set in Canada.

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-11-17 #IMWAYR

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It’s September 11th and the news has been full of hurricane and earthquake and bombs, so I’m selfishly looking for books and audiobooks this week that will calm anxiety, not add to it. I’m reading Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon for book club on Wednesday. I also plan to finish Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore and start The People We Hate at the Wedding this week.

I spent much of the weekend listening to Glass Houses by Louise Penny, narrated by Robert Bathurst, partly because I love the Armand Gamache series and partly because the library audiobook loan was going to expire today and I didn’t want to have to get back in line and wait to find out the ending.

Thirteenth in the series, Glass Houses doesn’t disappoint! While suspenseful, there is definitely something soothing about these books about the village of Three Pines in Quebec – “A place that no one finds unless they are lost,” the author says in  a recorded conversation with the actor who took over the narration of the series (after the death of Ralph Cosham) at the end of the Recorded Books audio.

My audiobook listening this week will be finishing the urban fantasy I set aside to listen to Glass Houses


Moon Over Soho
is the second in the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch about a young mixed-race constable in London who becomes part of a top-secret, special police unit after seeing and interviewing a ghost who witnessed the murder currently under investigation. British urban fantasy…it can be gory, and the humor is mostly dark, but ghosts, river gods, vampires, etc. are not real, so it’s non-stressful! (Right?) Also, the audiobooks are narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who’s a pleasure to listen to.

Hope everyone who is struggling today and this week will get through it and come out safely on the other side!


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are, and about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2-20-17 #IMWAYR

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It’s a beautiful, sunny day here in Massachusetts. It’s also Presidents’ Day, which is a holiday for me, so I’m looking forward to spending the day at home except for morning yoga class (my new exercise obsession) and a quick run to the supermarket this afternoon.

cover imageI’m currently reading Crosstalk by Connie Willis, and This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel (which I started when I couldn’t find my copy of Crosstalk.)

cover imageThey are favorite authors of mine, and I own both of these books. So I can read without worrying about the books expiring, which happened with the downloaded library audiobook I was listening to last week (The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close.)

audiobook cover image

While I wait to come to the top of the list to get The Hopefuls again to listen to the second half of it, two more audiobook holds came through from the library, including The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly, which I’ve been waiting a long time for and hope to get to listen to before it expires!

I audiobook cover imagestarted The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson, narrated by Cassandra Campbell first, to see what it was like; I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this debut novel set in a private high school in an upscale suburb of San Francisco.

At first I thought I might not listen to it all the way through because the school bullying described in detail from an eighth-grade girl’s perspective, at the start of the book, made me so sad and angry. When the perspective switched to a new high school teacher’s three years later, I decided I’d give it a few more chapters to see if I could stomach the subject matter. By the time the perspective switched back to a student’s again –about a third of the way in – I was hooked.

Game of Thrones character "Brace Yourself, the President memes are coming.

Happy Presidents’ Day! What are you reading this week?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! So welcome in, everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.