by Cathryn Conroy (Gaithersburg, Maryland): And Louise Penny does it again! This is the fourth in the (now) 18-book series of murder mysteries featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and the delightful Canadian town of Three Pines. And just like the three before it, this is a compelling, intelligent story that is also fun to read.

There is something else these books have in common: They are literary murder mysteries. From Greek mythology to classic poetry, you never know what Penny will throw into the mix of blood, gore, and detectives. Oh, and the food. Penny’s descriptions of food—all gourmet and extraordinary—will have you rooting in your fridge. If you’re not careful, you could gain weight just reading this book.

This novel veers from the first three in that it takes us to a new setting away from Three Pines. Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie, are celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in a remote, forested area of Quebec. They are staying at the Manoir Bellechasse located on the scenic Lac Massawippi and ideal for forgetting the worries of the world. Also staying in the inn are multiple members of the Finnley family, who are having a family reunion—and a contentious one at that. This fabulously wealthy family despise one another, but they have gathered to erect a statue of their late father and patriarch. But then the unthinkable happens: one of them is murdered. (Well, it’s unthinkable for a family reunion but totally expected for a Louise Penny book.) Gamache swings into action, his anniversary getaway forgotten. Not a word more on the plot! No spoilers here.

Every Louise Penny book is a delight to read. The plots are complex enough that most readers won’t figure it out too early, the pacing is perfect, and her words of wisdom about living a good life are sagacious and spot-on. Witty, wise, and wonderful! That’s a winning formula that extends to all 18 (and counting) books.

Treat yourself, but you must read them in order, beginning with “Still Life,” because subsequent books contain little—but important—spoilers about the previous books.