Of all Penny’s marvelous books, this is the most harrowing, as it weaves a multitude of mesmerizing tales into one heart-clutching narrative of death and loss. I love it when an author pulls no punches and nice people get hurt. That’s life; Penny knows it and it permeates her books. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is recuperating in winter-frozen Quebec City. Around him swirls the raucous Winter Carneval. Inside, he’s still gripped by the horror of his most recent, personally disastrous, case. A new body intrudes; he cannot bring himself to assist investigations. He reviews a recently-concluded case, decides he may have been wrong. He knows he was wrong in another, haunting, case. And still the new murder pulls him in. I cannot remember reading a more compelling narrative than this one. It’s a 5+.