Louise Penny

Denial

"St. Peter's Denial" by Rembrandt, oil on canvas, 1660. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

“St. Peter’s Denial” by Rembrandt, oil on canvas, 1660. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Armand Gamache had always held unfashionable beliefs. He believed that light would banish the shadows. That kindness was more powerful than cruelty, and that goodness existed, even in the most desperate places. He believed that evil had its limits. But looking at the young men and women staring at him now, who’d seen something terrible about to happen and had done nothing, Chief Inspector Gamache wondered if he could have been wrong all this time.

Maybe the darkness sometimes won. Maybe evil had no limits.

–Louise Penny, How the Light Gets In (Minotaur Books, 2013), p. 271

Perhaps evil knows no limit. Who hasn’t come to that conclusion from time to time? Perhaps it feeds on kindness rather than succumbs to it. Perhaps the light of conscience flickers and eventually dies in the darkest recess of our collective psyche. Perhaps our fears and insecurities ultimately prevail over the impulse to goodness and compassion. (more…)

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Methodology

Illustration by Sidney Paget of the Sherlock Holmes adventure

Illustration by Sidney Paget of the Sherlock Holmes adventure “The Greek Interpreter,” which appeared in The Strand Magazine in September, 1893. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

“I thought you’d like to hear what we’ve found so far about Constance.”

“I take it that doesn’t include whoever killed her,” said Myrna.

“Unfortunately not,” he said as he put on his reading glasses and glanced at his notebook. “I spent much of the day researching the Quints—“

“Then you think that had something to do with her death? The fact she was a Ouellet Quintuplet?”

“I don’t really know, but it’s extraordinary, and when someone is murdered we look for the extraordinary, though, to be honest, we often find the killer hiding in the banal.” (more…)

Waging Peace

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 18 March 1966. (Credit: Yoichi Okamoto)

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 18 March 1966. (Credit: Yoichi Okamoto)

Inspector “Beauvoir knew that the root of all evil wasn’t money. No, what created and drove evil was fear. Fear of not having enough money, enough food, enough land, enough power, enough security, enough love. Fear of not getting what you want, or losing what you have.” Louise Penny, The Beautiful Mystery (New York: Minotaur Books, 2012), p. 159.

Fear of losing what we want or have is the root of evil that leads to murder, at least in Louise Penny’s novel. Likewise, we are driven to war, Paul Chappell believes, by our insecurities.

“War propaganda tells people they are fighting for a noble cause in defense of their family, country, or an ideal.” It plays on our insecurities. “The war system is a master of deception,” Chappell maintains, “and one of its biggest illusions is that war is needed to make us safe.” Far from making us safe, the war on terror has created more problems than it has solved. “Our greatest enemy is war itself” [The Art of Waging Peace (Westport, CT: Prospecta Press, 2013), pp. 170, 250, 113].

Waging peace makes more sense than waging war. It is a more effective way to combat terrorism and, unlike the hypocrisy of the war state, it does not violate the nation’s noble ideals of freedom, democracy, justice, and opportunity. (more…)