A Trick of the Light, Louise Penny
If you’re a mystery fan, hopefully you are already aware that there’s scarcely anyone who can touch Louise Penny in the art of modern mystery-writing. Jacqueline Winspear and P.D. James both write well-crafted, occasionally brilliant novels, but in her emotional astuteness, playful style, and superb plot-building, Penny is the only mystery novelist alive today who I find to be a worthy successor (at her best) to Agatha Christie. In particular, I think that Ms. Christie would have been pleased to read a writer who could not only craft chilling, dark plotlines that unflinchingly trace the lines of human evil, greed, and envy, but who also – as Christie almost invariably did – returns to a place of distinct hope at the end of each novel. Human beings are fallen creatures in Penny’s work, but they are also creatures of light, capable of forgiveness and of loving persistently in the face of a dark world. Penny always returns to characters at the end of the novel their humanity, no matter how dragged into the dirt they have necessarily been over the course of it, and for that, I love her.