MURDER STONE was a
risk. I knew that
going in, but I also
knew it was necessary. It’s
book in the Gamache series, and the last of the seasonal cycle. Each of the first four has
been set in a
different season, beginning with STILL LIFE in the autumn. I wanted a reader to
experience a full year
in Quebec. To feel the seasons pass.
To taste the
seasonal food, and watch the characters as they adjusted to the weather.
mysteries, mine are about duality.
public face and the inner thoughts, so often at odds.
About what we say and what we mean.
About believing we know what someone is
thinking and feeling.
that terrible mistake.
Seasons in Quebec,
I know, have their own duality. Each
filled with such
beauty I feel weak at the knees. And
other times, often within moments, the weather will turn on you, kill
on a clear winter’s day.
A forest fire racing
through the stunning autumn woods.
melting and clogging rivers, sweeping cars off roads and burying houses
are allegories and characters themselves, as is the setting.
Each of the
first three books is set in the village
Pines. It was and
is my perfect fictional
idyllic. There is a
quality of magical realism about
Three Pines. It is
described as not being
on any official maps. A
brushes against as it rushes somewhere else.
A place only ever found by people lost.
Three Pines. I
created it because I
would want to live there. It
has a used
bookstore, a bakery, a bistro with antiques and roaring fires,
café au laits
and steak frites. It
has a general
store. People read. Books and The
struggle with their own lives, and maintain at times prickly
with Ruth, the demented poet whose
latest slim volume is called I’m F.I.N.E.
It becomes clear, eventually, that FINE stands for
‘Fucked up, Insecure,
Neurotic and Egotistical.’
Ruth is indeed
three books also form a sort of trilogy.
While each murder is self-standing there is another story
that arcs over
the first three and has to do with Gamache and internal
Sûreté du Québec
politics. This story is resolved by THE CRUELLEST MONTH, the third book.
fear with this series was, and still is, falling into a rut. Essentially writing the
same book over and
also one of the most
competitive people I know. Not
others, but with myself. I
book to be better than the last. And
different. And I
wanted to get better
and better as a writer.
I knew that
meant taking risks.
between us? All I
ever really wanted from myself was to
write one book. I
had NO idea anyone
would want or expect more. After
completing STILL LIFE and finding the magnificent Teresa Chris as my
relaxed and figured my deal with myself was completed.
I could go back into the garden and try to
control that Bishop’s Weed.
sold the book to Headline.’
fact, I’ve sold three books.’
‘Yippee! Mine and who
books, all from you.’
I said, a little lower.
‘Yes. And more good news. They want one a year. Yippee!’
‘Louise? You okay?’
You have no idea how terrifying it is
to have taken
forty-five years to write the first book then be given twelve months to
the next. And one
wrote the books. I’d
already spent the
advance and was loathe to give it back.
Besides, Teresa terrified me.
So the next
two books were written, fueled by pastries, gummi bears and prayers. No matter what anyone
tells you, there are no
atheists facing laptops and deadlines.
But, by Book
4, THE MURDER STONE, most of my terror had disappeared.
Replaced, I think, by a healthy certainty
that the book I was writing was crap.
Then that it was brilliant.
it was crap. Then
brilliant. As you
can see, I’m still FINE.
with THE MURDER STONE to take a risk.
But a necessary one, for the series and for me as a writer. For my creativity and for
the longevity of
the series. A
series I adore.
needed a break. Among
other things it needed
to repopulate. And
I needed to step back
and prove to myself that I could write books just as engaging set
question on my mind was whether Three Pines was the big draw, or Armand
people follow the Chief
Inspector? Or would
they long for the
by then, given the mail I was receiving, that while people loved Three
much as I do, they would be happy to explore another part of Quebec
created the Manoir Bellechasse. It’s
old hunting lodge on the shores of an isolated Quebec
lake that’s been turned into an über-luxurious Inn. Gamache and his beloved
wife, Reine-Marie, have
gone there every year for thirty years, to celebrate their anniversary. And this summer is no
different, except the
rest of the Inn, indeed all the
best rooms, are taken up
by one family. On a
STONE is as much a ‘how-done-it’ as a
I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to
create new characters – the Finney family, the employees at
To explore more deeply Gamache’s past, and
the dark secret there. To
relationships between fathers and sons.
are never about murder, or about blood.
They’re about what happens in the marrow. The things we hide, even
STONE is also about nature, human and otherwise.
And what a wilderness really is.
than anything, THE MURDER STONE, like all the Gamache novels, is about
belonging and hope. And
finding kindness buried. In
the wilderness. In
is also a deliberate homage to the Golden Age mystery writers, the men
women who’ve inspired me.
Who kept me
company when times were darkest. The
only writers my mother and I had in common and whose books acted as a
when our relationship had no other meeting ground.
Sayers, Agatha Christie, Michael Innes, Georges Simenon, Josephine Tey. Writers it might not be
fashionable to honour
today, but to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude, not least of all for
inspiring my own approach.
books could not be second-rate Christies, or warmed-over
needed to stand on their own, and belong
to their own time.
And so I
wrote THE MURDER STONE, as a thank you.
A neo-classical mystery set in a remote country house. A deliberate nod to the
Golden Age, without
being imprisoned. Informed,
yes, but not
I wanted to
see if I could do what they did so brilliantly – the hermetic
murder. The finite
I’ll leave it up to you to decide if I succeeded. All I know is that it was
a joy to write. Some
difficult times, some times I just
wanted to chuck it all, kill my agent, and relax in prison.
But not a
day went by that I wasn’t aware of how lucky I was. To write what I would
choose to read. Even
if I’m the only one.
As it turns
out the book has gone into multiple printings internationally. It made the New
York Times bestseller list and has earned glowing reviews. And I hardly had to sleep
critics. A few
booksellers, yes. And
the maitre d’ at the OXO restaurant.
And that bus driver who said his brother was
a film producer. But
I think that’s
about it. Do
Publishers have kindly donated fantastic prizes to promote Louise
book – The Murder Stone
- a signed copy of The Murder Stone
plus the complete backlist (unsigned)
2nd - 4th
Prizes - signed copies of The Murder Stone
you need to do is answer this simple question:
Name the wife of Chief Inspector Gamache featured in the series?
your answer here
date for entries is 31.05.2009
- The 1st
prize consists of 1 signed
hardback edition of The Murder Stone plus the unsigned backlist.
to 4th Prize consists of a signed
hardback edition of The Murder Stone
correct entries will be entered into a prize draw and the first correct
answer picked at random on 31.05.09 will be declared the winner of the
- The winner
will be notified by email within 14 days of the promotion closing date
and is required to accept their prize by email or phone call within 14
days of notification. In the event of non-acceptance within the
specified period, the promoter reserves the right to reallocate the
prize to the next randomly drawn correct and valid entry.
winners will be notified within 28 days of the closing date
Responsibility can be accepted for lost or misplaced entries
- The prize
are non-transferable and there is no cash alternative
- Only one
entry per person
or illegible answers or entries received after the entry date will not
be entered into the prize draw
decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
HEADLINE’s WEBSITE. CLICK ON BELOW.