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Three Pines–A Forest of Clues

Beloved Chief Inspector Armand Gamache (played perfectly by Alfred Molina), the star of the Louise Penny series of mysteries, investigates murders in Three Pines, outside Montreal.  In this eight-episode first season which debuted in December on Amazon Prime, five homicides occur. As in the novels, Gamache has a unique mindset for looking where others do not.  Three Pines relishes in the whodunit tradition:  it is not what you have seen but what you think you have seen.  And Gamache sees it all:  the light behind the darkness, the secrets and ghosts in a labyrinth shifting from moment to moment. 

His team stands by at the ready:  Sargent Isabelle Lacoste (a single mother deeply troubled by how her indigenous people have been treated), Sargent Jean-Buy Beauvoir, the good-looking woman-magnet who can’t keep his marriage together, and the klutzy local rookie, Agent Yvette Nichol, who provides comic relief throughout the series. 

The deeper Gamache descends into the rabbit hole of the residents’ secret lies, the more flashbacks into his own past reveal truths he previously misunderstood. Beautifully structured, Three Pines bookends the core mystery of missing indigenous girls and women victimized by a provincial governmental and institutional system of justice that offers them none.  While weaving the four other homicides into the plot line, we observe deflection, denial, confession, and motive at the heart of the dark underbelly of the Sûreté du Québec province. 

The cinematic device of a blue feather which floats between the murder cases both offers focus and distracts.  The viewer knows the feather is symbolic:  of Gamache’s past and of the secrets of some of the residents.  But the pace can be slow with a saggy middle often presenting its boring detours.  Slow in gaining momentum–like Agatha Christie or Columbo–stay with the series and you will find entertainment among the red herrings!  A forest of clues!

Availability:  Amazon Prime

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